Sen. Kit Bonds (R-Mo.) retirement announcement Thursday morning set off rampant speculation about which Missouri Republicans may be looking to run statewide in 2010 to succeed the four-term Senator. This seat has been open two times in the last 76 years, said Jeff Roe, a Republican operative in Missouri. You could ask anyone to defer for four years, its very hard to ask someone to defer for 40 years. Reps. Roy Blunt, Sam Graves and Jo Ann Emerson as well as Lt. Gov. Pete Kinder, state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and former Sen. Jim Talent are the Republicans immediately mentioned as potential candidates for Senate. A source with knowledge of the issue said Blunt is seriously considering running for Bonds seat, but given his well-known name and established political operation in the state, the Congressman can afford to wait awhile to make his plans known. Blunts son, Matt, just finished a four-year term as the Show Me States governor. I dont think that an announcement has to necessarily be immediately pending, the source said. A spokesman for Emerson, Jeffrey Connor, said the Congresswoman would make an announcement Friday about the issue. It looks likes everybody in Missouri is interested in running today, said Jason Klindt, a spokesman for Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) who declined to discuss whether his boss is interested in running for the seat. A spokesman for Kinder would not comment on the matter and a spokeswoman for Steelman did not return a request for comment. According to a knowledgeable Missouri GOP operative, Talent is also looking at running for the seat. The former Senator and House Member narrowly lost re-election to the Senate in 2006 to now-Sen. Claire McCaskill (D). Sen. Talent is considering his options and seriously considering making a race of it, said the operative. Former Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R) could also potentially run as well, though it could be difficult for the ex-lawmaker who is coming off a failed bid for governor in 2008 that he lost by a landslide. A reliable GOP operative in the state said, however, that the race will likely shake out to three big names: Blunt, Steelman and Talent. Others may make some noise for a couple days, but those are the real serious contenders, said the operative. Yet a split primary field could prove to be problematic for Republicans, who have watched Democrats make inroads in the state in recent cycles with McCaskills win in 2006 and Attorney General Jay Nixons (D) blowout win over Hulshof in the 2008 race for governor. Democrats could also benefit from unifying behind one strong candidate who has already won statewide: Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D). A source close to Carnahan said she is almost certain to get in to the race. She is the daughter of former Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.) and the late Gov. Mel Carnahan (D), as well as the sister of Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.).