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(Jefferson City) – Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said Friday that he won’t challenge freshman U.S. Rep. Jason Smith for a southeast Missouri congressional seat next year, relieving Republicans of a potentially costly primary.

Kinder issued a written statement announcing his decision about a month after he first publicly said he was considering a bid for the 8th Congressional District. He said Friday that he had wanted to explore the opportunity to serve in Congress, but he also noted that he already has been through three grueling statewide campaigns.

“A statewide race is exhausting physically, mentally, emotionally. An all-out run for Congress over the next year just isn’t in the cards,” Kinder said.

Kinder, of Cape Girardeau, won election last year to a third term as lieutenant governor. He said Friday that he plans to serve the remainder of that term, which runs until January 2017.

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