After weeks of speculation, Congresswoman Ann Wagner made her decision to forego a run for US Senate and seek re-election to Congress. The very deep bench of ambitious Missouri Republicans spent their 4th of July holiday calculating their moves around the changed 2018 political landscape.
U.S. Senate Prospects
Governor Eric Greitens – He has perhaps a more clear opening than ever before to run for the Senate. From his multiple trips there the Governor clearly feels comfortable in Washington, and an U.S. Senate seat where he can bring his military expertise to bear might be more enjoyable than a legislature full of “3rd graders” and a budget that he will be forced to cut for the foreseeable future. If he wants it, he starts off as the front-runner.
Attorney General Josh Hawley – All signs pointed to a staged “reluctant” run for higher office months after beginning his job as AG. However, unlike some other politicians by all accounts, Hawley has put his head down and really impressed people by the job he has done early on. For the most part, he has forgone public preening and been running his office in an independent way. He has even had the fortitude in specific areas to show independence from his party. You have to assume that now he is the candidate, but even to the most skeptical his reservations about leaving the job he just won may actually be genuine.
State Treasurer Eric Schmitt – The person who really has to be taking another look at this race his Eric Schmitt. He has proven he can win statewide, but Congresswoman Wagner shared a geographic and potentially fundraising base that made it unlikely for him to run. Now, he would be the Republican with a high name ID in St. Louis, and long track record to run on, and he is the leading economic conservative voice in Missouri politics. You would assume he started this weekend with no plans to run, and by the end of the holiday has to at least taking the numerous calls being made to him to consider it.
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer – There have long been calls for the Congressman to consider running statewide again, but he has every cycle ran for re-election. This could be time he makes the move. There is a longing for the type of consistent Midwestern Republican to support from longtime Republicans, Congressman Luetkemeyer would have the first crack at that crowd.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft – Secretary Ashcroft could have ran last week or this week. The only thing keeping him from being a front-runner is him wanting to do it. This changes very little for him.
Businessman David Wassinger – There was some that thought he might opt to run for Congress as opposed to running for US Senate. Now that seems unlikely a person who could self-fund with no voting record and an ear for Trump supporters could be the man to take up the Greitens mantle of battling all and winning primaries.
Congressman Billy Long – He happens to represent the most primary votes in the state, and has the pitch-perfect message for the age of Trump. If Congressman Long decided to explore the race he will be the most popular man in any room throughout rural Missouri and scare the hell out of anyone that would be running against him.
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler – She has long been rumored at considering a statewide run. The Congresswoman would make a for a formidable challenge from the right and has a federal war chest that she could convert. Also, the Hartzler family recently sold their implement business and could likely afford to be a sizable contributor to her own campaign.
Senator Ryan Silvey – Wagner had a natural appeal to thinking Rrepublicans who want solutions, which is a market Silvey would appeal to. Silvey clearly has the guts to say whatever is on his mind and in the age of Trump, it’s clear that genuine quality appeals to Republicans. Plus, how fun would an U.S. Senate campaign be to cover with Ryan Silvey in it?
Senator Mike Kehoe – Could Missouri’s leading statesman really end his career after next session? If you want to see the difference he has made in the Senate, look at the two days he was flooded- in down at his farm. Senator Kehoe would be a serious contender and has a close friend that might be of some help in such an endeavor, Senator Roy Blunt.
House Speaker Todd Richardson – He had been asked to consider the race early on and seemed to have moved away from it. He has all the talent and a track record coming from the most successful session in history for House Republicans. He has no enemies and near universal respect. Its seems like state auditor is his likely race, but he will have to kick the tires again.
Former House Minority Leader David Steelman – There is likely no one in the state with a better finger on the pulse of Missourians than David Steelman. He is being credited for starting the path back to prominence at Mizzou and with name id from not only his runs but his wife former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman’s races he would be a threat. He is someone who could choose to partially self fund a race, and he and his wife were the first major republicans with statewide prominence to back Greitens in the primary. It would be very telling to everyone watching if the Governor chose not to return the favor.
Former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway – She would have been the front-runner, but it was telling when the announcement of her role with Husch Blackwell was made public last week.
Next Move: She could still be the favorite in 2020 or 2022, until then likely be a very successful attorney.
Rep. David Gregory & Senator Bill Eigel – They are both rising stars who many were asking to consider running for the open seat, after all they don’t come around often.
Next Move: Keep impressing people with their performance in the General Assembly.
Rep. Paul Curtman – He seems have all the tools to be a standout federal candidate. Rep. Curtman is a conservative, a veteran, and has shown that he can raise money in small amounts. He would have been an outstanding congressional candidate.
Next Move: He will likely have to consider a State Auditor primary against the Speaker.
Rep. Shamed Dogan – Rep. Dogan was making the rounds and working to raise his profile to run for Congress. He would have had a unique appeal and been someone taken seriously for the race.
Next Move: He seemed on a dual track to run of St. Louis County Executive as well.
Senator Bob Onder – Senator Onder would be well fitted to be a federal candidate as well, but would have had to move into the district to run which always seemed unlikely.
Next Move: Continue his run for Senate leadership.
Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton, Mo; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.