Candidates prepare for 2016 statewide elections

Dec 3, 2013

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While statewide elections are still three years away, with the exception of auditor whose term ends in 2014, many candidates have already announced their intention to run.Republican State Senator Kurt Schaefer, whose 19th district includes Boone and Cooper counties, announced in September that he plans to run for attorney general in 2016.

MU Professor of Political Science Peverill Squire said while it is unusual to announce a candidacy so early, it is not surprising for a potential candidate to begin introducing themselves to political insiders.

“Generally they're sounding out people whose support they would like to get," Squire said. "So they're talking to leaders in the party, people who are active around the state, people who have access to money to fund campaigns.” 

According to the October 2013 quarterly financial report Citizens to Elect Kurt Schaefer filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Schaefer’s organization has close to $650,000 in money on hand. The same report shows, however, that the group is also a little more than $540,000 in debt. Squire said Schaefer will need to take care of that debt before 2016. 

“Politically it becomes a little tenuous to still have debts from a previous campaign when you’re running for another office, so my guess is he’ll probably raise money to pay off that debt relatively quickly,” Squire said.

Schaefer’s likely rival for the attorney general position, fellow Republican and Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, hasn’t officially announced his candidacy for attorney general, but he has told some news outlets he intends to run. The October commission report shows Jones has nearly $750,000 in cash on hand.

On the other side of the aisle, current Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders is a potential Democratic candidate for attorney general. He has almost three-hundred and ninety thousand dollars in cash on hand.

Missouri Ethics Commission Executive Director James Klahr said cash on hand can be kept by political committees even if the candidate runs for a different office than originally planned. There is also no time limit on how long these funds can be carried over.

“The only thing that’s really changed is they’re now declaring for a different office," Klahr said. "But the cash they have on hand would essentially be carried over to the new committee.”     

The potential candidates are looking to fill the attorney general position that will likely be left open by current Attorney General Chris Koster. Koster, a Democrat and likely 2016 gubernatorial hopeful, has almost $1.2 million on hand according the Missourians for Koster filing report from October.

Koster is expected to seek the governor’s office as current Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has reached his term limit.

Koster’s Republican competition for office could come from current Auditor Tom Schweich. Squire said Schweich is running next year for re-election, but the two-year term of auditor would give him the opportunity to run for governor.

“It’s assumed he’s going to be a Republican candidate for the gubernatorial nomination in 2016," Squire said. "We’ll wait and see if that’s the case.” 

Former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, a Republican, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she is exploring her options for a run for the governor’s office as well.