Washington (CNN) - It's only December 2010, but a possible 2012 GOP Senate primary battle in Missouri is already heating up.
Thursday the Club for Growth, a fiscally conservative organization that endorses and contributes to Republican candidates, welcomed former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman's entry into the race for her state's Republican Senate nomination. Steelman formally announced her bid Wednesday in a new campaign website, saying "I want to do my part in fighting for America's future. That's why I have decided to run for the United States Senate."
Missouri's incumbent freshman Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill has indicated that she will run for re-election.
"Sarah Steelman's entry into the Missouri Senate race is a welcome sign for pro-growth conservatives," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, a former congressman, in a statement. "Sarah Steelman is the kind of candidate who can provide a clear contrast to pro-bailout, pro-Obama Care Sen. McCaskill. We welcome her to the race and look forward to learning more about her candidacy in the coming months."
Also considering a run for the GOP nomination is former Sen. Jim Talent, who lost to McCaskill by three percentage points in 2006. Chocola doesn't appear to be a big supporter of Talent.
"With a record of support for government expansion and outrageous earmark spending, it would be more difficult for Jim Talent to successfully contrast his record with Claire McCaskill's," adds Chocola. "If the 2010 election showed us anything, it is that voters are in no mood to elect Republicans who are only half-hearted at best in their efforts to boost our economy and stop Washington's out-of-control spending."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee says it's not taking sides in any possible future primary battle and adds that Missouri's GOP nominee will be chosen by Republican voters in the state.
"From the NRSC's perspective there are several potential candidates, including Jim Talent and Sarah Steelman, who could mount a winning campaign against Claire McCaskill," NRSC Communications Director Brian Walsh tells CNN.
President Barack Obama narrowly lost the state to Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, but Republican Rep. Roy Blunt defeated Democratic nominee and Missouri's secretary of state Robin Carnahan by 13 points earlier this month in the battle for the state's open Senate seat.
Steelman, a favorite with many Tea Party activists, considered a run against Blunt for this year's Senate nomination, but dropped out of the hunt early in this past cycle.
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