JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – From his background working in statewide campaigns, family connections, his work for the federal government, his extended law school career and now as a state Representative, Caleb Jones may be the most well-connected man in the General Assembly.
“I have just been very fortunate to have met and befriended many people in my life who I have remained in contact with and our paths have crossed again,” Jones, a Republican from California, Mo., told The Missouri Times.
After being named Missouri’s “Star Farmer,” Jones went to the University of Missouri, earning a degree in Agriculture Economics. Then, during spring break of his senior year, he drove to Washington D.C., to interview for a job with then-U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Columbia.
“I drove out with a buddy of mine and slept in my car and was fortunate enough to get hired and two days after I graduated I headed to D.C. where I was fortunate to make several lifelong friends,” Jones said.
Jones returned home to go to law school, before its first interruption: he took the job as Missouri political director for President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign.
“I met so many people from around the state and country. In fact, I got a call from six friends of mine who were together for the opening of the Bush Library who just called from the event wanting to catch up,” Jones said.
After the campaign, he received a presidential appointment to work in the Department of Agriculture, where his career crossed with people like Chris Gober, legal counsel for the Republican National Senatorial Committee, Luke McCallpin from Mississippi, who is returning to work for Homeland Security, and David Rad, political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee from South Carolina.
After two years in the administration, Jones got homesick for Missouri and went back to Mizzou law in January of 2006.
“I first met Caleb in law school before he was elected official,” Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-O’Fallon, told The Missouroi Times. “So I’ve been able to see him develop over the years and he is someone I absolutely trust. I also think the new child will give him a new perspective on things.”
After graduating law school in December 2007 he worked for the [Rudy] Giuliani for President campaign and then ran Mike Gibbons’s campaign for Missouri Attorney General in 2008.
“For a young guy, Caleb added a great deal to the race. He brought a tremendous amount of skill and energy to the campaign and certainly gave us the best chance to win,” Gibbons, now a lobbyist with Stinson, Morrison and Hecker, said.
After the campaign, he opened up a law practice in 2009. It has only added to the list of connections and friends he has around the state, he said.
“Aside from his political connections, he also seems to be making connections in the legal community across the state,” executive director of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, Sara Schutte, said. “He recently won a case in the Kirksville area and also handles dealing with complex products litigation. He is making a name for himself in the legal community as well as the political community.”
Politics is in his blood, so after his father — a long-time Sheriff — left his state House seat to challenge Mike Kehoe in the Senate primary, he stepped into his seat and was re-elected in 2012.
He has excelled in Jefferson City, not only helping lead HRCC to its first ever veto proof majority but becoming chairman of the General Laws committee in his second term.
“Caleb Jones is successful in politics because he’s a practical man and is great with people,” Jaff Mazur, executive director of AFSCME Council 72, said. “He’s not an ideologue. He’s not a fire-breather. My politics are very different from his, but I count him as a good friend and ally. Anyone who has ever spent ten minutes talking to Caleb already knows what I’m talking about. He is an impossible guy to dislike.”
As his success in Jefferson City has grown, speculation has begun as to not if, but which statewide office he is looking to run for in 2016. Some suggest with his large network of connections he would be a perfect candidate to see the open state treasurer’s office, which is currently only five doors down from the office he currently holds.
“I cannot wait for Caleb’s political career to evolve and will certainly be one of his biggest supporters,” Cornejo said.
Lobbyist James Harris said he thinks Jones has a bright future.
“I have known him for nearly 10 years, and I know that the sky’s the limit as to what his future holds,” Harris said in an email.
When asked about all of the attention paid to his future plans, Jones said “sure people talk about it all the time, but we don’t have any future plans. I am focused on being a dad right now.”
To contact Scott Faughn, email email@example.com, or via Twitter at @scottfaughn.
Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.