Richardson foregoes Auditor’s race, intends to focus on role as Speaker

  

After weeks of Missouri politicos expecting an announcement from Speaker Todd Richardson on his 2018 plans, presumably an announcement of a campaign kick off for auditor, the Speaker finally made an announcement last Thursday.

“I have received tremendous encouragement to consider running for state auditor in 2018,” Richardson said. “However, after careful consideration and many discussions with my family, I have decided to forgo the campaign for Auditor and, instead, focus on my service as Speaker of the House. I first ran for office to pursue a conservative agenda to move our state forward and I’m proud of our many accomplishments. However, we still have unfinished business and I will focus on passing a number of important conservative legislative priorities next session.”

The Speaker, deemed by many – including past Speakers – as possibly the best Republican Speaker to serve the Missouri House of Representatives, was a starter in what has become an incredibly deep bench for the Missouri Republican Party to call from for upcoming elections. In 2018, both U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and Auditor Nicole Galloway are up for re-election. There are no open congressional seats, though they are also up for re-election. Even numbered state senate seats and all state house seats are also on the 2018 ballot.

Despite being the presumptive next speaker, Richardson became speaker almost overnight after the sudden departure of former Speaker John Diehl in May 2014. He will serve two years as the leader of the lower chamber. Richardson, an attorney from Poplar Bluff, was elected in 2010. His talent, possibly influenced by his father, former Minority Leader Mark Richardson, was quickly realized by his peers. He served as the majority floor leader under Diehl.

Richardson, an attorney from Poplar Bluff, was elected in 2010. His talent, possibly influenced by his father, former Minority Leader Mark Richardson, was quickly realized by his peers. He served as the majority floor leader under Diehl.

As speaker, he brought stability to a growing supermajority after a series of controversies, but also oversaw the passage of the largest tax cut passed in Missouri’s history, as well as the full funding of the foundation formula, REAL ID compliance, right-to-work, constitutional carry, transportation networking reform, and tort reform, among others.

“Missouri will have one of the most aggressive, competitive economic climates anywhere in the country,” Richardson said in May at the end of session press conference.

Republican leaders in the Capitol were quick to praise Richardson’s leadership, but also express disappointment in him not running. Here are some of their reactions:

Lt. Gov. Mike Parson
“Todd has done a tremendous job during his time in the Missouri legislature and has shown a strong commitment to conservative ideals. He has been a great Speaker, and I look forward to working with him next session. I know he has a bright future ahead of him.”

Treasurer Eric Schmitt
“Todd Richardson is one of the most thoughtful public servants I know. He’s been a great speaker and more importantly is even a better person.”

Sen. Caleb Rowden
“Todd will be remembered as one of the most successful and well-respected Speakers in our state’s history. His political allies and opponents alike admire him, which is an increasingly rare reality these days. I wish him all the best in whatever his future holds.”

Sen. Ryan Silvey
“Todd is a very talented legislator and a good Speaker. It takes a lot of guts to walk away from what was shaping up to be an easy nomination for statewide office. When people look at these races, they too often take the humanity of the candidates out of the equation and assume we are all chess pieces to be moved around the board. I commend Speaker Richardson for having the courage to assess his personal situation and make the decision he concluded was best for him and his family and not just playing the hand the political class expected him to play.”

Majority Floor Leader Mike Cierpiot
“I respect Todd for knowing his priorities and doing what’s best for the Richardson family. I’m glad he’ll be working for Missouri for one more year.”

Rep. Kathie Conway
“I’ve known Todd since I first came to Jefferson City. His calm demeanor, intelligence, and dedication to public service make him an asset to anything he chooses to do. I appreciate that he wants to concentrate on the job at hand. I look forward to supporting him in whatever will be next.”

Rep. Kevin Corlew
“Todd is an exceptionally talented, thoughtful and dedicated public servant whom I’ve always found to be one who makes choices for the right reasons after careful consideration. This surely is no different. He will lead the House skillfully this next year, as he always has done. In the future, fate and circumstances may once again call on Todd to lead our great state in some capacity, and I’m sure he will be more than able to respond.”

Rep. Robert Cornejo
“Speaker Richardson has been the exact Speaker the House of Representatives needed at the exact time he took over. He has done a tremendous job taking over at a difficult time and immediately got the House back to business and passing bold reforms that the voters elected us to do. He is always thoughtful before taking action and I am sure this decision was no different. I have no doubt he is making the right decision for him and his family at this time. I do not know what the future holds, but I hope he considers staying involved with politics past 2018 and helping move Missouri forward.”

Rep. Paul Curtman
“Speaker Richardson is a true statesman. Although he would make an exceptional state auditor, his reasons for not running only further demonstrate his character as well as his commitment to serve the members of the state legislature and the people of Missouri.”

Rep. Bruce DeGroot
“I am shocked to learn the Speaker will not run for auditor in 2018. In my opinion, he is the most, effective legislator in the building. I look forward to supporting him in whatever public office seeks.”

Rep. Kevin Engler
“I think it’s a shame when you get a good public servant like Todd Richardson and he decides not to further his political career toward auditor – a shame. I understand it. He has a young family, but I just wish we had more people like Todd willing to serve.”

Rep. Jean Evans
“It’s a loss for Missouri, but hopefully he’ll come around and run for another office. Missouri needs him.”

Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr
“Todd Richardson is one of the best and brightest people in state government. When, or if, he chooses to be a candidate for office again, the state of Missouri will be lucky to have him.”

Rep. Hannah Kelly
“Speaker Richardson is an incredible statesman who I hold the deepest respect for. I am beyond grateful for the chance to serve under his leadership in the House and call him a friend. Whatever step is next for him after his service is completed in the House I have no doubt will continue to be successful. We do still have an Auditor’s race to win in the next election, and I look forward to supporting the Republican nominee at that point in time and helping ensure a successful victory.”

Majority Caucus Chair Glen Kolkmeyer
“I have always supported Speaker Richardson. I think he will continue to be a great leader for the Mo House and politics in general.

Rep. Joe Don McGaugh
“Todd is one of the leading conservatives in Missouri. No matter what he decides to do after his successful term as Speaker of the House I will support him wholeheartedly.”

Rep. Nick Schroer
“I am deeply disheartened to hear our Speaker not running for State Auditor. While I understand he wants to focus on upcoming issues this next session, he has proven to be an effective leader who has worked with both parties to improve the State of Missouri. I look forward to working with him next year, and hopefully, many years to come!”

Rep. Kathy Swan
“I greatly respect the thoughtful decision made by Speaker Richardson and his family. His experience as Speaker of the Missouri House will certainly prepare him well for any future pursuit, whether professional or political.”

Rep. John Wiemann
“Todd Richardson is a genuine and thoughtful person who has been an effective Speaker. I respect his decision to focus on his service as Speaker and the important work we want to accomplish on behalf of Missouri families in the upcoming legislative session. I know that whatever Todd chooses to do in the future that he will be successful and a great asset to Missouri.”

Rachael Herndon is the editor at The Missouri Times, but also produces This Week in Missouri Politics and publishes Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.

Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.

To contact Rachael, email rachael@themissouritimes.com, or via Twitter @TheRachDunn.