We’re running a regular series here at Show Me Progress highlighting Republican officeholders who don’t yet have a likely Democratic challenger. In this edition of Who the Hell’s Going to Run Against…, we’ll be looking at Roy Blunt in Missouri’s 7th Congressional District (the Fightin’ 7th!). It’s important to field good candidates everywhere, because as we’ve seen in districts around the country (such as in CA-11, OH-18, TX-22), when a scandal hits a politician or their political allies, a decent challenger can take advantage. And as we’ll see, Roy Blunt is likely as anyone to get hit with a scandal. Unfortunately, we’re still wondering who’s going to face him next November.
More below the flip.
Roy Blunt was first elected to Congress in 1996. He ascended quickly in the Republican House leadership quickly, becoming Chief Deputy Whip after a single term and rising to Majority Whip in 2003. After the Republicans lost the House in 2006, Blunt easily won election as Minority Whip (he had lost a bid to succeed Tom Delay as Majority Leader in early 2006.) His positions on all the major issues are ultraconservative – he has a lifetime 94% rating by the American Conservative Union and a 92% rating by the Christian Coalition. Just like his son Matt, Roy Blunt has a knack for working a little too closely with lobbyists and corporations, earning him a post on CREW’s “20 Most Corrupt Congressmen”. After divorcing his wife of 35 years, Blunt later married his tobacco lobbyist girlfriend, and infamously slipped a provision directly meant to benefit her client, Philip Morris, into a 475-page Homeland Security bill hours before a final vote. To be fair, it’s not clear whether it was the influence of Blunt’s then girlfriend, his son Andy (also a lobbyist for Phillip Morris), or the sizable campaign contributions from the tobacco company (at over $200,000, his largest contributor) that led him to take such an unusual measure.
And then there’s Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay. Blunt and Abramoff were so tight that Blunt had “Friend of Owner” free meal status at Abramoff’s swank DC restaurant, Signatures. Delay and Blunt shared staff members and swapped PAC contributions; Blunt even gave $20,000 to Delay’s legal defense fund to aid him against money laundering charges. Investigations of Delay and Abramoff are still ongoing, so it’s possible that we’ll see even more dirt on Blunt in the next couple of years.
So, who’s going to face Roy Blunt in the race for MO-7? Despite all of the stink surrounding Blunt, Democratic challenger Jack Truman (great-nephew of President Harry Truman) only managed 30% against Blunt in 2006. He underperformed McCaskill by 5-10 points in every single county that comprises the 7th District. Will Truman run again and hope to improve his numbers dramatically in 2008? Or will someone else step forward to challenge Blunt? It’s worth noting that there is currently only one Democrat from Southwest Missouri serving in the Missouri Legislature – Sara Lampe.