ST. LOUIS (AP) — The federal government shutdown is blocking Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder from filing his exploratory committee for a possible congressional campaign.
Kinder completed the paperwork, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday he has been unable to file it with the Federal Election Commission. The exploratory committee is for a possible run in the 8th Congressional District that covers southeastern Missouri and currently is held by Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Smith.
Kinder, also a Republican, criticized President Barack Obama, saying it is incredible the president will speak to "just about any enemy of this country, but he will not talk to the elected leaders of a co-equal branch of government."
Formation of an exploratory committee allows Kinder to begin raising money for a possible congressional campaign. Differences between state and federal laws means funds from a state campaign account cannot be transferred to a potential run for a federal office. Kinder won a third four-year term as lieutenant governor in 2012 and said he will make a decision in weeks whether to run for Congress.
"The incumbent is a nice guy. He's a friend of mine," Kinder said. "But people on my side of the political divide in America today believe that the hour is very late for the survival of our freedom. We have to put our best team on the field."
Smith has represented the 8th Congressional District since replacing Jo Ann Emerson, who resigned from Congress to become the president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Smith earlier this year bested Kinder and others when an 84-person committee of local Republican leaders selected the Republican nominee for a June special election. The congressional office next appears on the 2014 ballot.
Smith, who had been the state House speaker pro tem, said he could not imagine Kinder challenging any Republican incumbent. He said if Kinder leaves the lieutenant governor's office partway through his term, then Gov. Jay Nixon could appoint a fellow Democrat as lieutenant governor.
"Friends just don't run against friends," Smith said.