JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Rep. Kevin Austin has changed the race for a state senate seat, but not because he’s running for it. The Springfield Republican said this week that he has decided against running for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Bob Dixon.
Austin was re-elected to his seat in the House back in November but says he will not seek another term, even though he isn’t term-limited.
“I’ve been thinking about this for some time,” he told the Missouri Times on Tuesday.
Instead, the Republican lawmaker and current House assistant majority floor leader says he intends to leave the legislature and focus on his private law practice. He is currently a partner for Keck & Austin, LLC, but says that the opportunity has come along to buy out his partner’s share of the firm.
“Frankly, I can’t do justice to both, being a state representative and lawyer,” he said.
But he also said that it will give him the chance to be a little selfish, to watch his son’s baseball games or take family trips. He also says he wants to get back in private practice as his two kids begin their college education.
He won’t say for certain that he won’t consider returning to politics at a later time.
“Lightning doesn’t strike twice, and people forget about you as soon as you walk out the door,” he said with a chuckle. “But I never completely close the door on anything. I kind of doubt it as it stands right now. I’ll be more of a spectator than a player.”
“It looks like six years in the House might be my elected career.”
Austin says he’s not too worried about leaving the office behind, saying it’s just another opportunity for another person to make a difference.
“My party did just fine without me running for many years, and they’ll be in good shape. There’s a lot of good candidates and potential candidates out there, and the cream will rise to the top.”
Now, with Austin stepping aside, it opens the door for his would-be primary opponent, Caleb Arthur, to secure the nomination for the Republicans in that district. Arthur is a local businessman in the solar industry, and his campaign already boasts $200,000 in its coffers from his own money, per Missouri Ethics Commission records.
Before becoming a businessman, Arthur had served five years as a police officer before leaving the force with due to an injury in 2010.
If Arthur does secure the GOP bid in the race for Senate District 30, he’ll face Democrat and former state Rep. Charlie Norr.
Norr is a retired Captain for the Baltimore County Fire Department in Baltimore, Maryland. He served for 20 years as a firefighter and paramedic. Rep. Norr also served in the United States Navy from 1961-1965 and spent two years in the Navy Reserve.
According to the July Quarterly reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Norr currently has about $15,000 on hand.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.