- Senator Mike Kehoe
The new floor leader has several challenges ahead of him in 2016 from the way in which the 2016 session ended. The senate seems to be trending toward a more House-style leadership driven body, but Senator Kehoe is a statesman and a historian who will struggle with continuing such a trend.
However, he has Minority Leader Senator Joe Keavney, who is respected and known as a senator that looks for compromise. Also, several big issues Kehoe has worked on during his time in the senate seem to be prime for compromise legislation to be passed. However, then there is right-to-work. They don’t call Senate Majority Leader the toughest job in state government for nothing.
- Secretary of State Jason Kander
While Kander is a headliner to Missouri pols, he was seen as a top recruit by national Democrats to take on Senator Roy Blunt. It seems like an uphill task, but is likely a brilliant move. If he runs close, which it seems by all indications he will, he will be the top recruit in 2018 should Senator McCaskill choose not to run. If she does, he is still a top shelf contender for any future statewide office he sought.
The important decision may be the track he takes in 2016. He spent the last months of 2015 on inside baseball tactics focused on Blunt’s son, which isn’t likely to be too helpful to other Democratic candidates. However, if the man at the top of the statewide ticket hits 2016 engaging on broader issues, it will be no surprise if the DSCC leaves Kentucky alone and targets Missouri, which would likely not only help Kander, but Democrats all across the ticket.
- Congresswoman Ann Wagner is the person Republicans are looking to come back in 2018 and unite the party to take back the senate seat held by John Danforth and John Ashcroft. Will she tip her hand on her intentions early this year by being a big presence on the trail outstate in 2016? She has endorsed her close friend, Catherine Hanaway, for governor, but does she choose to take a bigger leadership role in the fall building up her operation for 2018?
Rep. Elijah Haahr seems to have played his cards right to have an inside track to enter leadership in 2017 and be the front runner to become the next speaker of the house. 2016 will be key as he works to take on larger roles in caucus communications and HRCC to cement his positioning.
- Senator Scott Sifton will be the person all eyes are on in the senate. He is the senator in the minority who will be key to tying up the body if he chooses to do so. Look no further than the flurry of procedural moves he invoked at the end of last session to see his talent. Sifton is brilliant, young enough to talk all night, and is truly passionate about a host of issues at odds with leadership. If PQs start being moved all eyes will be on Sifton.