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Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) announced he will not run for Senate again in 2010 — a move that helps clears the primary field for Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) or former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R) to enter the race.

In a statement, Talent said that he was still interested in running for elected office in Missouri but that his priority is electing a Republican to succeed retiring Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) in 2010.

“I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for the Senate in 2010, for several reasons,” Talent said. “First, there are other qualified Republicans who are seriously investigating the race, and it is vital to prevent the kind of dissension that hurt my Party’s ticket so greatly in 2008. In addition, I have family and public obligations which this unexpected race would disrupt.”

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) announced her candidacy last week. She is expected to be the only serious Democrat to enter the race, which is expected to be among the most competitive of the election cycle.

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