Former Sen. Jim Talent (R) has decided against challenging Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillVA opposes bill aimed at helping vets in mustard gas experiments Blame game begins on Zika funding Overnight Tech: Obama heads back to Silicon Valley | FCC meeting preview | Yahoo bans terror content | Zuckerberg on sit-in live streams MORE (D-Mo.) and will make his decision public soon, a leading Missouri GOP operative confirmed to The Ballot Box.
For months, observers and party officials believed Talent was contemplating a rematch with McCaskill, who defeated him by fewer than 50,000 votes in 2006. But he's now poised to sit out the 2012 Senate race, sources said.
Rep. Sam GravesSam Graves19 pledged Missouri delegates go to Trump House GOPer eyes McCaskill challenge 5B highway bill limits teen truckers MORE (R-Mo.) recently told The Ballot Box that he's contemplating a Senate run and that Talent's plans would influence his decision.
"Jim's a friend of mine; Sarah's a friend of mine. That absolutely factors into it," he said.
Talent, who has worked as a lobbyist, is a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He hadn't been in touch with Missouri GOP activists in months, another Missouri Republican operative said, which seemed to indicate his lack of interest.
Other potential candidates include Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and Ann Wagner, the former state party chairwoman who recently ran for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.
The challenge for Missouri Republicans is to avoid a bruising Senate primary and channel their candidates into the right races. Almost all the state's top constitutional offices — governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer — are up in 2012.