A group of GOP lawmakers on Thursday morning will call for Missouri state Republican chairman John Hancock to resign, two key party leaders told The Buzz on Wednesday.
The call is linked to Hancock’s alleged role in referring to former state Auditor Tom Schweich as a Jew in telephone calls he made around the state last summer and fall.
Schweich, who killed himself last month, was not Jewish. But the so-called whispering campaign is said to have infuriated him in his final days.
Hancock has said he has no recollection of ever discussing Schweich’s religion with anyone. He pointed out Wednesday that no one has come forward with any evidence of a whispering campaign.
“There was no whispering campaign,” he said.
Also Wednesday, Schweich’s former chief of staff, Trish Vincent, said in a radio interview that Hancock admitted to her in December that he had talked about Schweich’s faith, but had stopped.
“I was, but I’m not anymore,” is what Vincent said Hancock told her about mentioning Schweich’s faith.
Hancock disputed Vincent’s account, calling it “untrue.”
Thursday’s news conference is to be at 9 a.m. in Jefferson City. The announcement that a news conference was to take place was to be made early Thursday morning.
Exactly how many GOP lawmakers will take part was unknown Wednesday night. But multiple legislators from both the House and Senate were said to be ready to participate.
Lawmakers themselves can’t remove Hancock as chair. That job is the state Republican committee’s, which recently elected Hancock to the party’s highest post at a party gathering in Kansas City.
But a sizable contingent of lawmakers expressing their dissatisfaction with Hancock could sway the committee.
One key question is whether Hancock has retained his ability to raise money for Republicans. How effective he remains at that task was also unclear Wednesday night.
Either way, the party is heading towards the 2016 elections where a slew of statewide offices will be on the ballot, including governor, as well as the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Roy Blunt.
Republicans are eager to capitalize on their success in the General Assembly where they now hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers. The party has struggled to translate that success to statewide offices.