The list of potential U.S. Senate candidates for the seat being vacated by Roy Blunt now includes Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, who told The Independent he was “definitely considering” the race in an interview Wednesday.
Schatz, a Franklin County Republican, said he is concerned about the possibility that disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens will be the GOP nominee in 2022.
“I can tell you I believe I, along with many others, will probably have some reservations about him being in the United States Senate,” Schatz said.
Schatz, 58, is vice president of a family-owned company that installs underground communication lines. He won his first election in 2010, taking a seat in the Missouri House, and won election to the state Senate in 2014. Because of term limits, he is barred from seeking another term in the state Senate next year.
Schatz is in his second two-year term as president pro tem. He said he is discussing whether to run with his family but knows that he is not as well known as some other candidates, including Greitens, already in the race. That means he must decide soon, Schatz said.
“I do not have the name recognition that some of the candidates have out there, so every day that goes by before that occurs is a day that is a missed opportunity to work on that,” Schatz said.
Greitens and Attorney General Eric Schmitt were the first prominent Republicans to enter the race. Secretary of State Jay Aschcroft and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe are bypassing the race, as is Gov. Mike Parson, who cannot seek a new term in 2024 because he served more than two years as governor after Greitens resigned amid criminal charges and an impeachment inquiry.
Kehoe said he intends to run for governor and Ashcroft, son of former governor, U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, is also considered a likely candidate for the state’s top job.
Some commentators have said a Greitens nomination would give Democrats their best chance for capturing the seat Blunt won in 2010 and which has been in Republican hands since 1986.
Others reported to be considering the race include four of the six Republicans who represent Missouri in Congress – U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner of St. Louis County, U.S. Rep. Billy Long of Springfield, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Harrisonville and U.S. Rep. Jason Smith of Cape Girardeau.
For some in recent decades, the office of president pro tem has been a stepping stone to statewide nomination, if not victory in the general election. Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau was pro tem before his election as lieutenant governor in 2004 and Mike Gibbons held the post before he was nominated for attorney general in 2008.
Schatz said he had no set political plans for 2022 before Blunt announced he would not run. He sees the race as an opportunity to test his chances.
“We believe with the field of candidates out there right now, we may be an alternative that I believe Missourians would like to see,” Schatz said. “It is obviously a serious consideration that requires some thought.”