ST. LOUIS — The contention in the Senate District 2 race continues as rumors start circulating about who has been hired to work for each campaign.
During the last few days, questions have been raised about Tom Smith, current Chief of Staff to House Speaker Tim Jones, running Bob Onder’s campaign — a rumor that appears to be false.
“I am running my campaign,” Onder told The Missouri Times. “Tom is likely to be a vendor for certain things like data and design of push pieces, but that’s about it.”
Onder said Smith is one of a mix of different vendors he intends to use for several general purposes, adding that he has yet to choose members of his campaign staff though he is interviewing several people.
Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger said he also had heard the initial rumor, and immediately went to Speaker Jones to ask what was going on.
“I spoke with Tim Jones and said it doesn’t look good having him being the campaign manager, doing things against a sitting House member, and I asked if I had done something wrong,” Gatschenberger said. “[Jones] said no, and said that everyone has a right to make a living.”
Prior to working with Onder for the coming election, Smith worked for Gatschenberger for five years.
“There wasn’t a fall out or anything,” Gatschenberger said. “Something just changed and he went to work with Onder.”
Smith seconded that there was no fall out with him and Gatschenberger, and said that it simply came down to Onder being a close family friend.
“I ran all of Chuck’s successful runs for the state House in the past,” Smith said. “When he ran against Onder the last time in the House when Onder won, I was working for Bob. I have nothing against Chuck, but when a family friend calls and asks for help, I help.”
Smith said he still considers Gatschenberger to be a good friend, though “more on a political level and not on a personal level.”
In the past, Smith also helped Vicki Schneider, the third Republican candidate who has been vocal about intending to run, who he said is another friend of his.
“It’s tough when three people who I all consider friends decide they’re running against each other,” Smith said. “But, I had to make a decision and I picked Bob.”
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.