Missouri's Republican gubernatorial candidate Secretary of State
Matt Blunt, politics seems to be the family business. His father,
Roy Blunt, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since
1996 and currently as the House majority whip, and his grandfather,
Leroy Blunt, served as a state representative. Now Matt Blunt,
considered by many a rising star in Missouri politics, is aiming
to succeed where his father failed and capture the governor's office.
Blunt is a
sixth generation Missourian, whose family hails from southwestern
Missouri, a region with conservative Republican roots reaching
all the way back to the Civil War. Blunt and his wife Melanie,
who he married in 1997, live in Springfield, the largest city
in the southwest. They are expecting their first baby in March
admit to following in his father's footsteps, but he loathes to
be accused of riding his father's coattails. In fact, to dismiss
any speculation, Blunt's campaign released a statement saying
that Roy Blunt "is not an important part of the campaign,
although he gives advice from time to time, and we appreciate
Blunt apparently benefited from his father's national fund-raising
connections during his 2000 run for secretary of State when a
local group linked to Roy Blunt's campaign committee donated $40,000
to his campaign. His father also helped raise money for his son's
Born in 1970,
Matt Blunt grew up in Strafford, a small farming town located
in the southwestern corner of the state and attended Missouri
After he graduated
high school, Blunt studied at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he
received a bachelor's degree in history in 1993. The Annapolis
graduate served on active duty for five years, first as an engineering
officer, then a navigator and administrative officer. He also
participated in missions in Haiti, Cuba and drug interdictions
off the coast of South America. For his service, Blunt was awarded
four Navy and Marine Corps achievement medals and the Humanitarian
the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Secretary of State was
called up as a Naval Reservist and served six months in the United
Kingdom, becoming the first statewide official to be called into
active military service. He is still in the Reserves.
experience is showcased in his campaign as evidence of his leadership,
commitment to public service and devotion to his country.
In 1998 Blunt,
at the age of 27, was elected to the state House representing
the 139th Legislative District. As state representative, Blunt
racked up a conservative record, voting against all the major
budget bills, including those for education, to keep the state
from spilling too much red ink.
In 2000, Blunt
became secretary of State, stepping into the same office his father
held at the age of 34. In the post, Blunt has worked to reform
the state's election system through the use of new technology,
such as electronic voting.
In fact, Missouri
in August 2004 became the first state to enable troops serving
overseas to vote via e-mail by sending their ballots to a Pentagon
contractor, which would then fax the votes to election officials
in Missouri. But, some technology experts have cautioned that
Blunt's voting initiative lacks necessary security, privacy and
anti-fraud protections. Blunt, however, said the program was the
best response to requests from service members for more accessible
ways to vote.
He has also
championed the use of technology to reduce bureaucratic red tape
and government waste, as well as improve state historical archive
preservation and access to state information and educational resources.
In early 2003,
at 32, Blunt became the front-runner GOP candidate to challenge
incumbent Democrat Gov. Bob Holden, whose popularity was sagging.
Blunt handily defeated five candidates on Aug. 3 to win the GOP
nomination, unlike his father, who lost a bid for the Republican
nomination for Missouri governor in a bloody 1992 primary fight.
On the campaign
trail, Blunt has vowed to create a smaller, more efficient state
government. At the same time, Blunt -- who slates education as
his top priority -- has pledged to spend more money on the state's
troubled public school system without raising taxes.
campaigned with the consistent message to bring effective leadership
and better accountability to the governor's office. Blunt also
asserts that his values better reflect those of Missourians --
unlike what he says are the liberal ideals of his Democratic competitor,
state auditor Claire McCaskill.
backing from prominent national leaders, including President Bush,
Vice President Dick Cheney, and benefits from a campaign flush
with more than $5 million in funds as of early September.
for the Online NewsHour by Liz