The auditor’s race is full of folks who have floated their names, but only one has made their 2022 intentions clear, the incumbent State Auditor Nicole Galloway who has said she isn’t seeking office in 2022.
There are three Republicans who put their names out. Of those, the state representative from the St. Louis area David Gregory has been the most aggressive, state treasurer from southwest Missouri Scott Fitzpatrick has told several people he is running for the seat, and House Speaker Rob Vescovo also from the St. Louis area has floated his name for the seat.
Rep. David Gregory
Rep. Gregory has been on a fundraising tear but has yet to formally announce — though many are looking for his official entrance into the race soon. He is one of the most talented politicians in the entire Republican Party and seems completely in. When he announces, expect support to come from police and fire groups as well as look for him to continue to keep tapping his very impressive Rolodex of supporters. I literally never believe anyone’s fundraising speculation, but between his PAC and his campaign account, I would expect Rep. Gregory to hit $1 million by the end of next session. He will need all of it for the primary, but now that there won’t be a general election, he won’t need any after anyway.
Rep. David Gregory
Contributions this cycle: $28,050.00
Cash on hand: $106,904.94
Show Me Growth PAC
Cash on hand: $247,313.19
State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick
The state treasurer is in the middle of his term and has a free shot at a job where there is a bigger portfolio and has told several people he is taking it. He has the natural advantage of having already been in statewide office for several years, and many county activists will just assume by default that people like the governor and lieutenant governor are behind him and he inherits their support. It will be interesting to see if the governor makes a formal endorsement.
While he starts off the race as the front-runner, it’s mostly because of that county infrastructure support as the name ID for any state treasurer competes aggressively with the margin of error. With Nicole Galloway out of the race, there won’t be much of a push among Republicans to have any concern about the general election so it’s a question as to whether they get involved in a primary for a race that the Republicans will now win in a walk.
In light of Rep. Gregory’s impressive numbers, fundraising will be a question for Fitzpatrick. He left the House Budget Committee chairmanship with around $200,000 on hand. He raised around $400,000 for his candidate committee and a quarter million in his PAC, and left a race he won handily with $100,000 on hand.
It would look like he will need to upgrade his 2020 performance of $650,000 to win this primary if it’s only Rep. Gregory. If the speaker gets in, that number goes up. However, looking at the lawsuit he filed this week against Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, it seems likely he will have a very formidable and proven fundraiser giving him some pointers going forward.
Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick
Contributions this cycle: $3,000.00
Cash on hand: $100,934.93
Missourians for a Responsible Budget PAC
Cash on hand: $10,350.00
House Speaker Rob Vescovo
There were a few eyebrows raised when after floating his name for state auditor, then leaking out that his team was designing maps where he could run for Congress, that the speaker didn’t raise any money in the second quarter. However, it makes sense when you remember that any state money he raises can’t be transferred to a congressional race or vice versa.
How would you like to get the call from Congresswoman Ann Wagner if you had opened a federal committee before she announced her intentions?
The speaker’s suburban St. Louis address presents him with several options in 2022. He would obviously be a top-tier candidate should he enter the auditor’s race, but he would most certainly be vulnerable to attacks on his own history of financial problems. A run for Congress is possible if Congresswoman Wagner were to run for U.S. Senate, and he might be best suited for that role coming off his success in becoming speaker in the statehouse. However, in a congressional race that includes the St. Louis media market, he would be vulnerable to attacks for his leading role in keeping Kim Gardnerprosecuting, or in the most recent case not prosecuting, St. Louis murder cases. “Kim Gardner’s favorite Republican” would be a tough label to own in a St. Louis suburban congressional race.
It’s also possible that as speaker he could strong-arm a district that loops southeast Missouri into a Jefferson County district if Congressman Jason Smith runs for U.S. Senate, but candidly, both congressional options seem unlikely at this point.
There is also the fallback of state Senate with Sen. Paul Wieland term-limited in 2022. It’s likely that even with the meager salary the General Assembly pays, he needs the job and the campaign account to spend, and with any statewide race being a crapshoot, and currently there not being an open congressional seat, that state Senate seat looks like his best chance to stay on the government payroll and the most likely one he takes making this race a one on one. One thing is for sure, this “small government conservative” won’t go off the state dole voluntarily in 2022.
Rep. Rob Vescovo
Contributions this cycle: $0
Cash on hand: $157,103.79
Mighty Missouri PAC
Cash on hand: $381,283.84
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.