As Missouri Republicans gather in Springfield, 2024 primary fights begin piling up
The Missouri GOP’s annual Lincoln Days brings out party faithful and likely candidates
Several potential candidates are expected to make their 2024 intentions known at the largest annual gathering of Missouri Republicans this weekend (Getty Images).
With nearly every statewide office up for grabs next year, Missouri Republicans are jockeying for position in what promises to be crowded primary campaigns.
Gov. Mike Parson will leave office because of term limits. Two Republicans have already jumped into the race to replace him, with a third waiting in the wings and expected to join at any time.
Attorney General Andrew Bailey and State Treasurer Vivek Malek are technically incumbents, but neither has ever run for public office before. They both were appointed to their jobs when their predecessors were elected to other offices.
Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft are both eyeing the GOP gubernatorial primary.
With the GOP dominating Missouri politics for the last two decades, the party is brimming with ambitious candidates looking for a promotion. And this weekend, they’ll all gather in Springfield for Lincoln Days, the Missouri GOP’s largest annual event.
“The people who go to statewide Lincoln Days, all of them are going to vote next year,” said Elijah Haahr, a former Missouri House speaker. “These are dedicated voters who will help spread the word about candidates they like. This is the chance for candidates to reach an audience that really provides a bang for your buck.”
Several candidates are revealing their intentions to the party faithful this weekend.
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Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller is expected to announce a run for secretary of state. Ashcroft hasn’t officially announced whether he’s running for governor, but he has said he won’t seek a third term in his current office.
Schoeller, who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2012, is scheduled to make an announcement Friday evening.
Another potential Ashcroft successor is state Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, who teased a statewide run on Twitter this week but didn’t specify which office. As an accountant, he’s also considered a possible candidate to take on Malek for state treasurer.
“I look forward to continuing my conservative fighting spirit statewide,” Hoskins tweeted.
Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, is also rumored to be considering the secretary of state race. Last year he flirted with a run for Congress before ultimately staying out of the race.
House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, has publicly confirmed he’s gearing up to run for lieutenant governor.
Another name bandied about as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor or state treasurer is state Sen. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston. She was considered for the treasurer job before the governor decided to appoint Malek.
Kehoe and state Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, are already in the race for governor. Ashcroft is widely expected to join the race as well.
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Meanwhile, Bailey is facing a primary challenge from Will Scharf, a former U.S. attorney who worked as policy director in Gov. Eric Greitens’ brief administration. Other candidates — state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer of Parkville and former U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison — are also considering a run for attorney general.
Friday night, the party will celebrate the fact that it holds every statewide office in Missouri for the first time since the Civil War. U.S. Sens. Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt will speak, along with Kehoe, Ashcroft and Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick. Haahr will moderate the discussion.
The next night will feature a keynote speech from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Congressman Byron Donalds of Florida.
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