Former state senator touts Schmitt as best candidate
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – As speculation over who will run against incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill continues, groups of Republicans have been coalescing around names like Attorney General Josh Hawley and Representative Paul Curtman. Still, others have been mentioning names such as Ed Martin, Rep. Marsha Haefner, and John Brunner, as well as Austin Petersen.
However, one candidate that many are mentioning as the best positioned for a general election against an incumbent Democrat is State Treasurer Eric Schmitt.
His campaign spokesman, Rich Chrismer, told the Missouri Times that he’s considering the idea, having received much support for Missourians and Republicans to run.
One of the leading conservatives encouraging him to run is former state senator Jason Crowell.
“I believe that Eric Schmitt would be an excellent U.S. Senator if he so chooses to run. Eric’s pro-life conservative record is exceptional,” Crowell said. “He is the author of Missouri’s largest tax cut and has consistently fought for our fellow Missourians with developmental challenges. Eric has a great record of selfless service to take to the voters and his success shows he is a winner.”
A few weeks ago, Schmitt spent two days in Washington D.C. meeting with the leaders of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and other conservative groups to discuss a potential run in 2018.
And Schmitt’s record is one that could be quite attractive to conservative voters seeking to unseat McCaskill. Schmitt’s resume includes an eight-year stint as a state senator, where he authored two of the largest tax cuts in Missouri state history, as well as establishing a record working on behalf of the disabled.
However, most frequently cited among Republicans is his general election appeal. He would start the race as the only candidate on the Republican side with a geographic base in St. Louis, by far the largest media market in the state.
Further, the race made history as Schmitt raised more money for the 2016 State Treasurer’s race than any State Treasurer’s race in American history winning with a 17% margin. (His campaign collected more than $4 million from roughly 1,300 donors.)
Speculation surrounding a Schmitt candidacy began increasing after Congresswoman Ann Wagner, who represents Schmitt in Congress, chose not to run. The two shared not only a geographic base, but many supporters throughout the state.
In the three weeks since her decision, his decisive moves toward considering the race are a stark contrast to the other leading candidates considering a run.
It remains to be seen who is best able to capture the support that President Trump accumulated in receiving more votes than any other presidential candidate in Missouri history. However, Schmitt may uniquely make a case to blue-collar Missourians.
His personal story includes being inspired to run for office to serve as a voice for those people who can’t always speak for themselves. His work on behalf of the disabled includes his plan to help provide financial aid for the families of those living with disabilities. It’s an issue of great importance to Schmitt, whose son was born with a rare genetic condition causing tumors on his organs.
His father worked at the family butcher shop and went to night school to get his diploma, and Schmitt watched his father work seven days a week on the midnight shift to provide for his family.
His first run for state office in 2008, a challenging year for Missouri Republicans, was in swing state Senate district in suburban St. Louis, in which he raised nearly $1 million. Schmitt won despite both President Barack Obama and Sen. Claire McCaskill winning that very same district.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.