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Politics

Graves Would Seek Tea Party Mantle

January 20, 2011

If Missouri Republican Rep. Sam Graves ends up running for the Senate, he'll actively seek out the support of Tea Party activists in the Show Me State, he said Thursday.

The remarks foreshadow a potential show down with former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R), who is already in the race and plans to appeal to the Tea Party segment of the Missouri GOP.

Graves told Hotline On Call that is "absolutely" considering a run against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and, if he does pull the trigger, he believes his credentials will appeal to Tea Partiers.

"I'm one of the very few members of Congress who has voted against every one of these bailout packages and stimulus packages, whether it was Pres. Bush, whether it was Pres. Obama, and I disagree with them, and that's exactly one of the things that the tea party movement stands for," he said.

Graves only recently came on the radar screen as a potential Senate contender and has caught some in the Republican Party by surprise. His consideration of the race appears to have developed as former Sen. Jim Talent (R), who lost to McCaskill in 2006, has delayed his decision on whether he is going to run. Another Republican, 2010 congressional contender Ed Martin is also taking a close look at the race.

Asked about Steelman courting Tea Party activists in Missouri, Graves said it doesn't concern him.

"My record stands on its own and the Tea Party movement is very important, it's part of the process, and it's kept America moving in the right direction," he said. "We've got to turn spending around in this country, and that's the bottom line.

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