News Briefs

Missouri governor headlining fundraiser for Dave Schatz Senate campaign

By: - March 10, 2022 8:34 am

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz speaks on the Senate floor on Feb. 22, 2022 (photo by Madeline Carter).

Gov. Mike Parson waved off questions last week about the crowded GOP primary for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, saying he had to “be real careful” about saying whether he’s supporting a candidate.

But it seems the governor may be getting closer to weighing in.

Parson is scheduled to headline a fundraiser on March 31 for Dave Schatz, the Missouri Senate’s president pro tem who jumped into the primary in November. The event will be held at Helen Fitzgerald’s Irish Grill & Pub in St. Louis.

On Thursday, Schatz downplayed the significance of the governor’s attendance at his fundraiser, saying: “I wouldn’t say it’s an endorsement.”

“Obviously, he’s agreed to come,” Schatz said. “I think anybody who would ask him to help in that way, I think he’s not opposed to that.”

While he’s not claiming a formal endorsement from the governor, Schatz said he hopes to win Parson’s support.

“I’ve worked very close with the governor in my time here,” he said, “and obviously we’ve worked well together.”

Publicly available polling of the primary has consistently shown Schatz in single digits, trailing the campaign’s perceived frontrunners — former Gov. Eric Greitens, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

But Schatz, who serves as vice president of a family-owned company that installs underground communication lines, is widely expected to be able to self fund his Senate campaign, raising his hopes of potentially making a splash and breaking through in the crowded field.

He has thus far loaned his campaign $1 million.

The governor getting involved in Missouri’s U.S. Senate primary would be the second major shake up in the race in recent weeks. Last month, U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley formally endorsed Hartzler.

The biggest domino yet to fall, and the one that could ultimately decide the race, remains the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

Each of the party’s major candidates has publicly sought Trump’s endorsement, visiting the former president at his Florida home and in some cases shaping their public message to woo him into the race.

Schmitt, for example, is reportedly holding a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago this week.

But Greitens, who resigned in disgrace in 2018 to avoid impeachment and settle felony charges, has arguably gone the furthest in seeking Trump’s favor.

He has stated publicly that if Republicans recapture the U.S. Senate he would oppose Mitch McConnell as majority leader, a position that has allegedly won him favor with the former president. Greitens has also adopted Trump’s other pet cause as the centerpiece of his Senate campaign — the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

“One hundred percent, we need to investigate the 2020 election,” Greitens said shortly after speaking at last month’s Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference. He later added: “We saw all the fraud in the 2020 election, and we’re gonna fight them on it.”

There is no evidence of widespread fraud impacting the outcome of the 2020 election.

Schatz appears to be trying to forge a different path in the primary than his rivals.

In announcing his campaign in November, he panned “fake politicians and their fake solutions” while touting his record in the Missouri legislature. He has boasted endorsements from mainstays of the state’s business community, including Warren Erdman, executive vice president of the Kansas City Southern railroad

Schatz won his first election in 2010, taking a seat in the Missouri House. He won election to the state Senate in 2014. Because of term limits, he is barred from seeking another term in the state Senate.

This story has been updated. 

The Independent’s Rudi Keller contributed to this story. 

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.