Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Icet and Schweich Battle for GOP Backing

State representative Allen Icet (R-Wildwood) and Thomas Schweich have both declared their candidacy for Missouri state auditor and will face off in the Republican primary election in August of 2010. Presumably the winner of this primary will go on to face incumbent Democrat Susan Montee. The auditor is one of only two statewide offices up for election in Missouri in 2010 (the other being a U.S. Senate seat) and Icet and Schweich are both credible candidates for the race.

2008 saw a bitter Republican primary in the race for Governor between U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof and state Treasurer Sarah Steelman. In that race it was the establishment candidate vs. the outsider, with Rep. Hulshof having the backing of most of the state's GOP leadership. The auditor race will not be a repeat of that, as the two candidates have both been successful so far in lining up establishment support for the nomination. To date, Icet has the endorsement of 80 state representatives and 4 state senators. Today Schweich announced that he was endorsed by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, the only Republican holding statewide office in Missouri at this time.

Both Icet and Schweich have resumes that give them credibility in their quest for the job of auditor. This is the first race that former ambassador and professor Schweich has run, while Icet is serving his 4th term in the Missouri House and was the budget chairman. Schweich has just entered the race, so he did not have to file an Missouri Ethics Committee report for last quarter, but it appears that he will have the funding to mount a well funded campaign. Since campaign donation limits were repealed in Missouri, the influence of a handful of donors could be a major wild card in this race.

The timing of Icet has been interesting so far. Just after Schweich announced that he would not be seeking the U.S. Senate seat up for election and word leaked that he was thinking about the auditor's race Icet jumped in. This gave Icet the ability to echo the call for Republican unity from a major GOP fundraiser and rode the news cycle on the auditor. Then on the day that Schweich announces he is running Icet announces that he has the endorsement of 80 state Representatives and 4 state Senators.

I fully agree with Steve Walsh: "No matter what ... this has the makings of a very interesting race."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Illinois Senate Race Clarified This Week

The 2010 U.S. Senate race in Illinois had a number of important developments this past week. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) announced that she would not run for the U.S. Senate, nor for Governor, but would run for reelection. Also on the Democratic side, Sen. Roland Burris, who currently holds the seat after being appointed by former IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich, announced that he will not run for the seat in 2010. Both of these are good news for IL Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) who has been raising money for a run at the seat. Word is that Rep. Mark Kirk (R) will run for the seat (see CQ Politics). Rep. Kirk represents a Democratic leaning district in the Chicago area. He is viewed as a strong candidate for the seat, as he is a moderate in a Democratic leaning state. He will be viewed by some in the Republican party as the best chance at picking up the seat, while being attacked by other elements of the party for his moderate stances on a number of issues. There are other Democrats and Republicans eyeing the race as well.

Not a secret strategy, but perhaps not a bad idea

I ran across a blog post that got me thinking. "The Secret Republican Strategy for 2012?" highlights four possible GOP presidential candidates (Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, and Chuck Hagel) who are all out of office (or will be by 2012 in the case of Gov. Pawlenty). Mitt Romney could also be added to that list.

With my wet finger in the wind, I predict that the next Republican presidential candidate will be someone not then currently serving in a government position.

The secret strategy of the Republican Party is to proffer experienced candidates with no recent political history to be used against them. Hope and change will wear a new red suit in 2012.

While I do not think it is a secret strategy coordinated among possible rivals in 2012, there is something to the idea. Right now people in elected office, be it Governors or members of Congress (and state legislatures) are faced with difficult and unpopular choices, particularly when it comes to budgets. Being out of office means not having to make tough decisions on actions and votes that can be used against a candidate for office. Certainly all of these individuals are staying involved in the political world and are still relevant so a run in 2012 would be an option.

Additionally, a few possible 2012 contenders for the Republicans have likely been removed from the running recently. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's presidential ambitions likely died last month. Also, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was tapped by the Obama administration to be their ambassador to China, so he is out of the running as well (look for him in 2016).