By DAVID A. LIEB
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Rural prosecutor Adam Warren on Thursday became the second Republican to enter the attorney general's race in Missouri and pledged to fight against the federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama.
Warren, 32, was elected as Livingston County prosecutor in 2010 but is making his first foray into statewide politics. He joins St. Louis attorney Ed Martin in a Republican primary for the right to challenge Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster in this year's elections.
Martin, who had been campaigning for Congress, switched to the attorney general's race in January and - because he was the only Republican challenging Koster - was given a banquet speaking role during the GOP's statewide Lincoln Days conference last weekend in Kansas City. Martin has emphasized his opposition to the federal health care law and has sought to link Koster to Obama.
Though united in their opposition to the federal health care law, Warren said he decided to run against Martin because he brings a different background to the race. Martin served as chief of staff to former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, where he generated some controversy because of his outspoken tendencies and his firing of a staff attorney. He previously worked for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and as an attorney for anti-abortion and school-choice groups.
Before being elected prosecutor, Warren said he served as the Chillicothe city attorney and in the judge advocate general's corps of the Missouri Army National Guard. He said his tenure in the guard ended last April.
"I've got a prosecutor's background, I care about law enforcement," Warren said. He later added: "I have a clean kind of small town record going for me. When you get involved in state politics, you might come with a little baggage."
Martin had no immediate comment about Warren's entry into the race. Neither did a Koster campaign spokeswoman.
Koster has taken a middle-of-the road approach on the 2010 federal health care law. Although he did not join attorneys general from other states in filing suit against the law, he has filed court briefs suggesting Congress overstepped its constitutional powers in mandating that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty beginning in 2014. Koster's court filings have suggested the individual insurance mandate could be struck down without invalidating the rest of the law. For example, he said the mandate for certain businesses to provide insurance to their employees could be allowed under the Constitution's power for Congress to regulate commerce.
Martin has called Koster's position on the health care law "an embarrassment for Missouri" and "a halfhearted attempt to cover his political career."
Warren also was critical of Koster's approach.
"We deserve better, plain and simple," Warren said. "Not only did Koster's office skimp on the protection from the individual mandate, the A.G. actually promoted the remainder of the law, ignoring glaring encroachments into Missouri's state sovereignty and our individual religious freedoms."