Mike Sanders is on the clock.
With the dawn of 2015, the three-term Jackson County executive and former county prosecutor is considering a run for statewide office — most probably attorney general.
But Tuesday’s announcement that Jake Zimmerman, the St. Louis County assessor, is running for the post is significant. Zimmerman joins fellow St. Louis County Democrat, and state senator, Scott Sifton in the race, turning the AG contest into a 2016 Democratic primary.
Will Sanders joins them?
The dynamics of the race present him with an immediate advantage. With two St. Louis Democrats splitting the vote in the east, Sanders could have a clear shot as the western Missouri candidate.
But does he want it? Does he have the fire in the belly?
That’s a question that has long dogged Sanders, who’s the father of two young boys. Up to now, the 47 year old has done everything to set the table for an eventual statewide candidacy.
But he’s passed on past opportunities, and now some are wondering if he’ll pass again.
This may be Sanders’ last and best shot, at least for a statewide race. The AG contest is for an open seat given incumbent Chris Koster’s decision to run for governor.
Sanders no longer has the luxury of time. With Zimmerman and Sifton organizing and raising money, every day Sanders waits is a plus for his potential rivals.
Still, there is a second option — the 5th District congressional seat that has long appealed to the county executive. But Emanuel Cleaver is showing no signs of stepping down. With his massive car wash debt, he may have no choice but to keep running.
And other Democrats — former state Sen. Jolie Justus, among them — have long been interested in the 5th. The primary will almost certainly be crowded and contentious.
All this presents Sanders with a mighty quandary.
What’s he thinking? Hard to say. These days, he’s gone silent. We’re waiting for signs of smoke to emerge from the chimney at the Sanders household.