Former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R) officially launched her 2012 challenge to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) on Wednesday, hoping to get an early jump on what could be a contested primary with former Sen. Jim Talent (R).
"I want to do my part in fighting for America's future," Steelman wrote. "That's why I have decided to run for the United States Senate. We need to create an economic climate of growth where families keep their own hard earned income."
Steelman -- who has considerable Tea Party support in Missouri -- strongly considered running for the Senate in 2010, eventually giving way to now Sen.-elect Roy Blunt (R), the preferred candidate of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. As we reported on Tuesday, however, the NRSC has already told Steelman it will stay neutral in a race between her and Talent.
Jeff Layman, a spokesman for Steelman, told Hotline On Call Wednesday that Steelman will count on broad grassroots support to take on McCaskill, hinting at Steelman's Tea Party support.
"Sarah will have enthusiastic support from an energized grassroots and throughout our party," Layman said. "She is ready and able to stand toe-to-toe with a tough incumbent and win."
Talent has said he is strongly considering the race and will make a decision around the end of the year. Steelman's announcement will put pressure on Talent, as Steelman has a strong base of conservative support in the past. In 2008, she lost the GOP primary for governor but did serious damage to Republican Kenny Hulshof's chances in the general election. Hulshof went on to lose to Democrat Jay Nixon.