Former Cass County prosecutor Teresa Hensley announced Thursday that she is entering next year’s race for Missouri attorney general.
Hensley, a Democrat, had returned to her family’s Raymore law office earlier this year after losing a re-election bid in November. Her announcement came the same day that Sen. Scott Sifton, a St. Louis County Democrat, said he was dropping out of the race.
Another Democrat, St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman, and two Republicans also are running for the office.
Hensley grew up in Raymore and had been the Cass County prosecutor since 2005. Last year, she ran her re-election campaign on her record of overseeing 21 murder convictions. She lost to Ben Butler, a criminal defense attorney who was seeking public office for the first time.
In 2012, Hensley challenged Republican U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri’s 4th District and was defeated. Before being appointed Cass County prosecutor by Democratic Gov. Bob Holden in 2005, she ran an unsuccessful race for state representative in 2002.
In her announcement Thursday, Hensley touted her experience in Cass County.
“As a former prosecutor, I saw the pain and the devastation families experience when they’re the victims of violent crime. I saw parents who lost children to drunk drivers, and children who lost their innocence to abuse. But I also saw the power of justice in action. I saw people begin to put their lives back together after justice was served in a court of law,” Hensley wrote in a statement.
Hensley claimed the endorsement of Sifton, who said he would instead seek re-election to the Senate.
The Missouri attorney general’s office will be open next year because Democratic incumbent Chris Koster has said he plans to run for governor.
Zimmerman had nearly twice as much to spend on a campaign as Sifton as of June 30, with about $921,000 compared to Sifton’s roughly $488,000.
Republican Sen. Kurt Schaefer of Columbia appears likely to face off with Republican attorney and University of Missouri School of Law associate professor Josh Hawley in a GOP primary for the seat.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.