One of the longest guessing games in recent Missouri political history is over.
Former state treasurer and state senator Sarah Steelman said late Thursday she won't run for office next year.
The reason: "unfinished work" at home, which she said was raising her 14-year-old son, Michael.
"I want to raise him here in Missouri –in the heart of this country, not in Washington D.C.," Steelman said in a statement.
The announcement ends months of speculation around one of the GOP's most viable big-name contenders. Insiders said she had a strong shot at the 7th District congressional seat in southwest Missouri being vacated by long-time incumbent Roy Blunt.
And she would have posed problems for Blunt in his bid to win the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate next year.
But there's always another election. And in 2012, two high-profile Democrats will presumably be seeking re-election in Missouri: Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Jay Nixon.
The Steelman statement:
"For months I have considered running for the U. S. Senate and I have been honored and gratified by people throughout the state and country who have encouraged me to run.
"I loved serving the people of Missouri as State Treasurer and a State Senator, and I struggled with my decision because I know there is much work that needs to be done, or undone, in Washington.
"But, I have unfinished work here. Sam and Joe, our two oldest are in college. However, our youngest, Michael, is 14 and I want to raise him here in Missouri –in the heart of this country, not in Washington D.C.
"`To everything there is a season.' This is my time to work hard as a private citizen, along with the growing number of like-minded citizens, to restore the conservative principles of freedom that made this the greatest country in the world."