With Attorney General Josh Hawley heading to the U.S. Senate, the river continues to flow past the Capitol here in Jefferson City and the questions turn to who will fill Hawley’s role as Missouri’s Attorney General.
Let’s take a look at the likely contenders who could fill his seat.
State Treasurer Eric Schmitt – He leads the list for several reasons. He has a lengthy track record in state government and serving alongside Governor Parson before they both won statewide office in 2016. The comfort and trust in that relationship combined with the fact that Schmitt is a proven vote-getter who would be a heavy favorite to keep the office probably put him at the top of most lists. It also doesn’t hurt that the Governor could pick someone to fill the State Treasurer’s office.
Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft – His family knows a little about being attorneys general. Ashcroft is an attorney who has spent two years in state government. He was put in some challenging circumstances over the large amount of ballot races and stood his ground on some tough decisions earning him fast respect. He also would provide an opportunity to appoint a Secretary of State to replace him.
Former-State Senator Kurt Schaefer – He leads the list of attorneys not currently in a statewide office. He is widely regarded as a brilliant attorney and he finished just behind Hawley in the 2016 primary election for attorney general. It appears as though his relationship with the U.S. Senator-elect is in good shape — he attended a fundraiser for Hawley at the home of former-Senator Kit Bond earlier this fall.
Former Republican House minority leader David Steelman – He would provide quotes for days and is one of the leading Republican attorneys in the state. He even ran for the office in 1992. With his wife serving as Commissioner of Administration and himself serving as chairman of the University of Missouri Board of Curators, he is almost certainly uninterested, but if he was, it would be a very well run office and an office providing the best copy in the state to the reporting class.
Bill Corrigan – A name familiar to those in St. Louis. He is a leading attorney with Armstrong Teasdale and previously ran for St. Louis County Executive. One of the most impressive individuals on the list.
Former United States Attorney Todd Graves – Graves proved himself to be committed to a cause more than a personality this fall. He was a big reason the Republicans had field game Tuesday. He is one who is unlikely to be interested in the position, but would be a natural fit.
Judge Jack Goodman – He is a former state senator from southwest Missouri and someone with the rare qualities of being liked and respected by everyone. Hard to leave a judgeship, but Judge Goodman is a natural politician who would be a respected choice.
Judge Doug Gaston – In a very similar mold as Judge Goodman, but a former House member. He also served in the State Treasurer’s Office. Judge Gaston would be a widely acclaimed choice, but it would be tough to tempt him from the bench.
Those in state government:
General Counsel to the Governor Chris Limbaugh – You know the last name, and it’s only a matter of time before most of the state is familiar with the first name. He took his current position in June and has impressed. He was formerly the prosecuting attorney in Cape County. He may still be considered young for the position, but it seems very likely there will be a day.
Representative David Gregory – A rising star in the Republican Party, he won a convincing re-election in a district where his pro-right-to-work vote did him no favors. As with Limbaugh, it may be early, but he is someone who will be in the mix in the future.
House Speaker Elijah Haahr – Coming off a huge night leading his caucus to holding their impressive numbers in the supermajority, he would be a natural fit, but holding that Speaker’s gavel is a once in a lifetime experience.
Rep. Jay Barnes – He won statewide respect and acclaim earlier this year, and has the intellectual gravitas to fill the office. However, some speculate he may be more interested in being in the judiciary than elective office as his next challenge.
In the long shots category look for someone that Governor Parson has known for a long time, but is off the political radar today.
Former House Speaker Catherine Hannaway – Think a snowball cascading across hell. It would be a hard fit to parlay being the state’s leading advocate for dark money into a job in the highly reputable Parson administration.
Scott Rosenblum – If you looking into the long shots he would probably get the recommendation of every prosecutor in St. Louis just to get him out of the criminal defense business. Can you imagine?
Briefs from the Midterms
No Democrat had a better night than Sean Nicholson. Regardless of your view of the policy, Clean Missouri was outstanding politics.
No Republicans had a better night than HRCC. They just win…a lot.
Looks like Senator-elect Lincoln Hough was right to keep some of his war chest in his bank account.
If the national Democratic Party continues trending more socialist in nature, look for the future of the Missouri Democratic Party to be in ballot initiatives.
Very intelligent statewide decisions by Republicans to put their money into independent expenditures in St. Joseph and Jefferson County. HRCC’s mail was the difference for Rep.-elect Faulkner and Rep.-elect Mary Elizabeth Coleman is as impressive as anyone who has entered the House in some time. Can anyone remember a time when there were no Democrats representing Jefferson or Buchanan Counties?
If you’re a Republican who was as excited that Claire McCaskill was defeated as you were a Republican picked up the seat, it’s really a testament to her effectiveness. She served this state with honor for decades. You can disagree with her politics, but even the most partisan person has to tip their hat to someone who dedicated their life to Missouri. Regardless of your party, she is a role model for anyone entering politics.
Catch This Week in Missouri Politics Sunday. We will have David Barklage on the show, and don’t miss Show Me Missourah this week in DeKalb County.
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.