The undertow of dissatisfaction that haunts the GOP presidential field appears to extend to the Republican lineup for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat.
This week, one of the patron saints of the state GOP, former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth, was one of the lead signatories on a letter urging state Auditor Tom Schweich to run for the office now held by Democrat Claire McCaskill.
“There is no doubt that you are the candidate best qualified to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate,” the letter said of Schweich.
Besides Danforth, 17 others signed the letter, including Sam Fox, one of the most prolific fund-raisers in the state; Bert Walker, the first cousin of the first President Bush; former Missouri GOP chair Tom Fowler; major GOP donor David Humphreys, and Annie Presley of Kansas City, former deputy finance chair of Bush for President.
Schweich, who was just elected auditor in 2010 and pledged to serve a full term, said Friday that he is “quite serious” about running, but wants to weigh things before making a decision prior to the March 27 deadline. He said he’s calling dozens of key Republicans, but won’t run unless he can see a path to victory.
He’s a man who’s had long titles in his career and now seeks shorter ones. Here’s one of the longer ones: “principal deputy assistant secretary of state and acting assistant secretary of state at the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in the State Department.”
He served as chief of staff to three United Nations ambassadors, including Danforth. Schweich said he had “nothing negative” to say about any of the current candidates. Neither did Danforth.
“It’s nothing against anybody else,” Danforth said. “I do know Tom Schweich very well, and I know his ability to make the case, and that’s what I think he needs to do.”
Danforth can say what he wants. But the letter’s message is clear: The current field is weak.
But can Schweich, who is not all that well-known despite his election as auditor, win the GOP primary? He would be the third St. Louis-area male in the race. A lot of insiders think his entry would boost Steelman’s chances.
Besides being a woman and a former state-wide official, she’s the lone out-state candidate.
And there’s this: If Schweich jumps in, raising the candidate total to four, what would keep others — namely members of Congress — from entering and turning the race into a pitched regional battle and creating unholy party turmoil?
Like so much involving the GOP these days, a golden opportunity appears to be getting gummed up.
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