Saint Louis, Mo. — Catherine Hanaway, formerly Missouri’s first woman to serve as Speaker of the House, is wasting no time in lining up support for her 2016 gubernatorial bid.
Hanaway made big waves a few months ago when records showed a massive $750,000 donation from conservative mega-donor, Rex Sinquefield, was the majority of Hanaway’s campaign funds. Sinquefield has poured nearly $1 million into Hanaway’s campaign two years before the general election.
But now Hanaway’s focus appears to be on lining up surrogates and endorsements from as many of her fellow lawmakers as possible. As a former Speaker of the House, Hanaway still has a few colleagues around the Capitol. Sources close to Hanaway’s camp said a string of public endorsements from elected lawmakers would trickle out of Jefferson City over the coming months.
“Endorsements, while not everything on a campaign, are especially important in the early stages of building this team,” said Nick Maddux, a Hanaway spokesperson. “These endorsements show we are assembling a broad coalition of support from across the political spectrum, and they speak directly to the strength and caliber of candidate we have in Catherine Hanaway.”
Perhaps most notable of Hanaway’s recent endorsements is the broad range of ideology represented by her supporters. Sen. Ed Emery, who served with Hanaway briefly in the House, warmly embraced her as the answer for Missouri voters in 2016.
“I don’t know that I agree with her on every issue, but there are many that we do agree on, and I would trust her to reason things through and do the best thing for the entire state,” Emery said.
Emery, one of the most conservative members of the Republican senate, has blasted Common Core, promised to reject any expansion of Medicaid, and supported both sweeping de-regulation of guns and extended waiting periods for abortions.
Hanaway — who has a reputation as a ferocious back-room negotiator — may not fall as far on the right of the ideological spectrum as many of her supporters, like Emery. Hanaway shocked at least some around the state when she announced she had the full support of former Missouri U.S. Senator, Kit Bond.
Bond’s support is especially surprising given that Missouri’s Chamber of Commerce tapped Bond and his consulting firm to push for Medicaid expansion in the hallways of the Missouri Capitol.
While Bond — along with a small number of moderate Republicans like Rep. Noel Torpey and Sen. Ryan Silvey — is one of the few Republicans in Missouri to publicly support expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, something Hanaway has said she does not believe is the answer to Missouri’s healthcare woes.
But despite Hanaway’s strong words against expansion doesn’t mean she isn’t willing to work with the legislature. Hanaway said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio that something had to be done to help hospitals losing federal money for treating the uninsured. At least one person close to Hanaway, who asked not to be named, said she would likely be “open” to working with the legislature expanding Medicaid under the right circumstances.
Bond’s endorsement of Hanaway doesn’t automatically signal her willingness to engage Missouri Democrats on perhaps their single biggest legislative goal since 2012. But his support is surprising, as the Missouri political icon rarely endorses candidates in contested primaries, and Hanaway is widely expected to have at least one opponent – Republican State Auditor Tom Schweich.
Bond will be one of the special guests at a fundraiser in Kansas City for Hanaway later today. U.S. Attorney for the Western District, Todd Graves, along with State Senator Will Kraus will also be attending. Ann Dickinson, a former national committeewoman in the Republican Party is hosting the fundraiser, and her support of Hanaway will carry plenty of weight in some Republican circles.
Schweich has not officially announced, but is all-but-certain to be declaring his intentions to run for Governor sometime in the next few months.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.