Thursday, January 8, 2009

Senator Kit Bond to Retire

Missouri Senator Kit Bond announced his retirement today according to

“As a sixth-generation Missourian, I have always loved our state. Through 40 years in public life I have met many wonderful people. The people I have met along the way are the reason I ran for public office and the reason I am still here,” said Bond, 69, according to his prepared remarks. “I thank the voters of Missouri who elected me to represent them. There is no greater honor. I am truly blessed to have been entrusted by them with the responsibility of public office.”

Missouri has emerged as a battleground state, after Claire McCaskill (D) defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent in 2006 and Barack Obama lost the state by less than 5,000 votes to John McCain in the 2008 elections. And Missouri voters just elected Jay Nixon, a Democrat, as their next governor, signaling that Bond could face a tough challenge if he ran for a fifth term.

Republicans have a deep bench in Missouri, and many prominent members are expected to consider running to succeed Bond in the Senate. The list includes former House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, former Sen. Jim Talent and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson. On the Democratic side, Rep. Russ Carnahan, son of the late governor Mel Carnahan, is a possible contender.

“In 1972, I became Missouri’s youngest governor,” Bond said. “Good friends: I have no aspiration of becoming Missouri’s oldest senator.”

In his speech, Bond called for bipartisanship in light of the worsening economy and threats abroad, and recited his legislative record on issues ranging from health care to energy policy.

“We all need President Obama and Governor Nixon to succeed,” he said. “As Ben Franklin said during another grave time in American history, ‘We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.’ We may not be threatened with literal hanging, but are in perilous times.”

Bond is one of the most senior Republicans still serving in the Senate, and holds powerful positions on the Appropriations Committee, Commerce Committee and Intelligence Committee. He has angered some on the right for his penchant for funneling hundreds of millions of dollars in pet projects to Missouri, but he won praise from his colleagues for pushing through President Bush’s electronic surveillance legislation over strong Democratic objections in the heat of the 2008 campaign season.

His style can be brash, though, and his colleagues rejected three of his bids to become chairman of the Senate Republican conference. And he has rankled feathers among some Senate Democrats for his blunt style and bomb-throwing nature.

But in his speech, Bond struck a conciliatory note.

“I thank my political adversaries for keeping me nimble, and the media for keeping me humble,” he said.
Josh Kraushaar contributed to this story

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