— Republican officials emerged from the first fiscal quarter last week with some of the largest campaign war chests.
House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, ended the quarter with just more than $733,000 in the bank, followed closely by state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, who ended the quarter with more than $294,800, according to Missouri Ethics Commission April quarterly reports which were due last Monday.
While neither are on the ballot for 2014, both are mulling potential statewide candidacies during 2016. Speaking with reporters last week, Jones said he was considering a potential 2016 run for attorney general or secretary of state.
“2016, it’s no secret, will present a lot of opportunities for my party. We need to do a better job running for executive level offices,” he said, referring to the ability to connect with grassroots activists, to successfully manage a message, and to raise adequate campaign funds. “I think I have all of those components.”
Jones, who has already begun to travel the state with multiple visits to the conservative stronghold of southwest Missouri, will likely face opposition. Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has also been considering a statewide run, and has launched his own statewide tour to capitalize off the GOP’s outrage over the Missouri Department of Revenue’s document scanning practices.
Still, nearly four years out, Schaefer’s campaign account — drained by a seemingly competitive Senate campaign last year — is just over $19,000. During the first quarter, Schaefer raised $32,600.
Jones and Schmitt were followed by Gov. Jay Nixon, who ended the quarter with more than $427,500 on hand.
Nixon’s operation, renamed “A Better Missouri With Jay Nixon” after what was likely his finally campaign as a state candidate, is expected to soon transition to ballot initiative mode. Nixon said during his State of the State Address earlier in the year that if lawmakers did not act to implement campaign finance limits, he would take the issue to the people. Team Nixon is expected to move near the end of legislative session on filing the initiative petition so the signature process can move, Democratic sources say.
Attorney General Chris Koster, who announced that he would likely run for governor during 2016, raised more than $350,000 last quarter — ending with a fund of nearly $420,000.
“We are making the necessary preparations and building consensus around the state toward that end,” he told reporters earlier this month about his future campaign plans.
The lead quarter of the first year after an election is typically one of the lightest. Many lobbyists will refrain from direct contributions (opting instead for gifts to lawmakers), and 50 members of the General Assembly raised nothing during the quarter — including some that made pledges to not raise any funds during session.
House Majority Leader John Diehl, R-St. Louis, who announced his campaign for Speaker of the House during 2014 last week, was one of those who did not raise anything last quarter. Still, he ended the quarter with the second largest campaign fund in the House — topping out at just less than $273,100.
State Auditor Tom Schwiech, the Republican tasked with leading the party’s message during 2014, spent the spring Lincoln Day circuit touring the state touting a message of party unity, but did not raise a significant amount of campaign cash during the first quarter. According to MEC reports, Schweich has just less than $71,000 on hand. For now, however, Schweich is safe as no Democrat has filed against him yet.
State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, who announced he would not run for governor for 2016, ended the quarter with under $8,000 on hand.
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