Lt. Gov. Kinder discusses 2012 governor run

He ran for the republican nomination in 2008 but conceded.

Missouri's lieutenant governor said Saturday there is a good chance he will run for the state's top seat in two years.

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder talked about whether he will challenge Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon in the 2012 gubernatorial race at Lincoln Days, an annual gathering of Republicans from around the state.

"There is a better than 50-50 chance that I will announce at some later date that I am in that race," Kinder said during an ice cream social he hosted at the convention Saturday in St. Charles.

Kinder disputed earlier reports that he had officially announced his candidacy last weekend during a luncheon with a group of College Republicans. The reports said he had confirmed his gubernatorial bid at the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington.

"I would never go to Washington, D.C. to make a formal announcement," he said. "When I do that, it'll be in Missouri."

MU College Republicans former state Chairman Jonathan Ratliff said his group was more focused on helping Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., defeat Secretary of State Robin Carnahan in the November senatorial election.

"When the (gubernatorial) campaign starts, we'll comment on that," said Ratliff, a junior. "But right now we've got a senate seat to win."

Blunt and Carnahan are running to succeed retiring Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.

Kinder previously ran for the Republican nomination in 2008 gubernatorial race after Republican incumbent Matt Blunt announced he would not seek re-election. But he dropped out and supported Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., for the party's nomination and instead ran for lieutenant governor. Hulshof lost to Nixon in the general election by 19 percentage points.

Making an announcement this early does not help or hurt Kinder's potential chances, said George Connor, a political science professor at Missouri State University. Connor said Kinder is the presumptive GOP candidate and would face little serious competition in the primary.

"The sooner that you make it formal, the sooner you can scare off competition in a GOP primary, but I think that's minimal," he said.

Kinder gave the Republican response to Nixon's State of the State address this year. He criticized the governor for accepting money from the federal stimulus package and for dismissing concerns about rising federal debt, quoting Nixon from a C-SPAN interview in February.

"If there's debt, Missouri kids and grandkids will pay that debt off," Nixon said during the interview.

When he spoke at the town hall, Kinder slammed Nixon for failing to stem the loss of private sector jobs in the state during the Great Recession. He criticized the governor for borrowing from the state's reserve fund and delaying state tax refunds to balance the state's budget.

He also called for the party to recruit younger and minority voters. He said Republicans needed to act "like the party of Lincoln," alluding to President Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, to encourage them to embrace different voter demographics.

"We here celebrating Lincoln Days need to be party of Lincoln and reach out to everybody," he said. "We need to compete for every vote in this state."

The lieutenant governor later hosted an ice cream social, dishing out scoops of vanilla ice cream with several other key Republican figures, including Roy Blunt and Sen. Kurt Schaeffer, R-Columbia, all wearing aprons monogrammed with "teamkinder.com," the URL of his campaign site for lieutenant governor.

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