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Part One: 5 of the Most Important People of 2016

   
  • House Speaker Todd Richardson      
Richardson
Richardson

The new speaker inherited a whole host of problems he had to sort through starting with the way he came to the job a year early and continued with a right-to-work vote that presented him with tons of bad options.

However, since veto session, he has been able to focus on moving forward and things are looking up for the man who is being called the next big thing in Missouri politics. Look for an unusually productive year for the last year of a two-term governor, and Richardson to be a formidable representative of the House in the annual battles with the Governor and more importantly the Senate.

 

  • Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal   
Chappelle-Nadal
Chappelle-Nadal

The Senator from St. Louis County is one of the most outspoken legislators in recent history and wants to take that outspokenness to Washington, D.C. However, she will have to take on one of the most entrenched and talented campaign operations in the country to do it against Congressman Lacy Clay.

She will be the huge underdog, but she does have a following. However, raising federal dollars is very hard and may have to rely on the good will of a super PAC to aid her efforts. However, her running would turn on the Clay machine, which as former Congressman Carnahan learned in 2012, is one of the most powerful in the nation. Clay running a full throttled campaign will likely do as it did in 2012 and change the entire electoral turnout model of the primary in St. Louis County.

 

  • Candidate for governor John Brunner               
Brunner
Brunner

Brunner is the true wild card of the primary season. He has ran a top of the ticket campaign in 2012, has a core following of supporters that he can tap and perhaps most importantly, he has the ability to mostly self-fund his campaign, which he has done before. Kinder likely doesn’t need the most money to win, Hanaway has the state’s largest donor committed to her effort, and Greitens has proven that he can raise money, but name ID and some dogged attacks from the right could dampen his efforts.

He is currently in a colorful battle with Eric Greitens for the outsider mantle in the primary. It’s seen as conventional wisdom that he will have to cut a check to his campaign to win, and each week he doesn’t, he loses some buzz, and likely some supporters, to Greitens. If Brunner comes out of the gate in 2016 with a serious investment in his campaign, look for him to rocket up the depth chart of GOP nomination contenders, and set the tone for an epic election season.

 

HONORABLE MENTION:

  • Rep. Caleb Rowden is not only engaged with Rep. Stephen Webber in the hottest senate race in the state, but is also carrying the lobbying reform legislation that is likely to pass the legislature in 2016. Look for a finished product that includes a 1-year ban on legislators entering lobbying, a gift ban, and likely other measures short of campaign contribution limits. 2016 will be a busy year for Rowden.