Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chattering classes start chattering about Steelman

Will Missouri Republicans keep former Missouri Treasury Secretary and legislator, Sarah Steelman, from exploding into the national arena?

Over at the Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru thinks outgoing House whip Rep. Roy Blunt has a better shot in a primary matchup against Steelman for the state's open seat in '10.

Sarah Steelman might be able to do well enough in that region [the South] in a general election—but how does she get through the primary if Blunt runs?

She's got a shot at getting through the primary, because Roy Blunt's son, Governor Matt Blunt, is not a popular fellow in Missouri these days (how weird is that? the father's Senate chances are hurt by his unpopular gubernatorial son.) And Roy himself has 40/43 unfavorables.

After his son's rocky single term as governor was capped off by an abrupt decision not to seek reelection, the Blunt name is suffering a bit. The association among the GOP base of Rep. Blunt with congressional Republican failures over the past decade will also hurt the former majority whip in his efforts to build a campaign.

Human Events thinks this may open the door for Steelman:

Steelman, fresh off a loss to Hulshof in the gubernatorial primary, looks eager to take another crack at a revolution within the state party. In contrast to the standard laudatory press releases issued by other Missouri politicians upon Bond's retirement announcement, Steelman attacked Bond as "represent[ing] the old ways of Washington."

This is part of Steelman's appeal, and her weakness. She could be called the Sarah Palin of Missouri: a conservative outsider with a reform message. She gets called a lot worse things by most elected Republicans in the state, however, and she would have little to no institutional support in a primary and begrudging support in the general election.

KY3 political notebook unveils its Radar Rankings, showing what promises to be a rough primary battle. Blunt's got the bad positive/negatives; Talent would like to run but may opt out if the primary promises to be bruising, and Steelman is hampered by relatively poor name rec.

Of the three problems -- unpopularity, questionable drive, and low name rec -- Steelman's is the easiest to overcome. But shouldn't her name rec be higher after losing a gubernatorial primary in early 2008?