- The Washington Times - Friday, January 9, 2009

Longtime Missouri Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond, a dominant force in his state’s politics for more than three decades, announced Thursday he will not seek a fifth term, dealing his party another setback in a bid to cut into the Democratic majority in the chamber.

Mr. Bond, 69, made the announcement in Jefferson City as the state legislature opened its 2009 session, surprising many local observers who thought he was preparing for another Senate race.

“In 1973, I became Missouri’s youngest governor. I do not aspire to become Missouri’s oldest senator,” he said.

A moderate conservative, Mr. Bond was high on the Democratic target list for the 2010 race, when 19 Senate seats now held by Republicans and 14 Democratic seats will be contested. Democrats now hold a 57-41 majority, with two seats still being contested.

Mr. Bond was facing a potential challenge from popular Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. She is a member of the state’s most famous Democratic dynasty, which includes her late father, Gov. Mel Carnahan; her mother, former Sen. Jean Carnahan; and her brother Rep. Russ Carnahan, now serving his third term in the House of Representatives. Early polls gave Mr. Bond only a slight lead over Robin Carnahan in the 2010 race.

President-elect Barack Obama narrowly lost Missouri to Republican rival Sen. John McCain, and Republicans control both houses of the state legislature.

But Democrats have been making inroads in recent times, with Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon cruising to victory in the governor’s race in November over Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshof.

Mr. Hulshof, former House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, and former Sen. Jim Talent, who lost his Senate seat in 2006, have been mentioned as possible Republican candidates in 2010.

Mr. Bond was 33 when he won his first term as governor, the youngest chief executive in Missouri history. He first entered the Senate in 1986 after the retirement of Democratic Sen. Thomas Eagleton, who was briefly Sen. George McGovern’s running mate in the 1972 presidential election.

He turned back strong Democratic challenges in his previous two races, defeating state Treasurer Nancy Farmer in 2004 with 56 percent of the vote.

He is vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and also has a seat on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.