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Koster switches parties ahead of AG run

State Sen. Chris Koster
State Sen. Chris Koster


St. Louis, MO – A Republican state senator said today (Wednesday) he's switching parties so he can run for Missouri Attorney General as a Democrat.

Chris Koster has resigned as majority caucus chairman in the Senate, and he's been referring questions to a former campaign staffer for Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.

Koster says he's more aligned with Democrats than Republicans on several issues -- stem cell research, workers' rights, minimum wage and leaving intact Missouri's current judiciary system.

"Today, Republican moderates are all but extinct," he said.

Koster stopped short of declaring his intent to run for attorney general, but he has formed a campaign committee for an unspecified statewide office in 2008.

He said he does not intend to seek re-election in the Senate.

The Missouri Republican Party said Koster switched because he thinks it will be easier to win the Democratic primary in the attorney general's race.

Koster, a former Cass County prosecutor, has angered some in the Republican Party for his ardent support of stem cell research. Some anti-abortion organizations believe a certain form of stem cell research destroys life at its earliest stages.

Koster's passionate speech two years ago helped stall a bill that would have banned a certain kind of embryonic stem cell research. His campaign finance reports seeking an unspecified statewide office next year show he has raised $713,262 toward that contest.

Among his major contributions is $125,000 in January from James Stowers founder of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City. Stowers financed most of the $30 million campaign for last year's narrowly approved constitutional amendment protecting the ability to conduct stem cell research.