Barbara Shelly

Claire McCaskill’s intriguing plans for 2016, which don’t include a run for Missouri governor

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill revealed on Monday that she won’t be running for governor of Missouri in 2016, but likely will go for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2018.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill revealed on Monday that she won’t be running for governor of Missouri in 2016, but likely will go for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2018. The Associated Press

Missouri’s 2016 election just got a little less interesting.

But only a little.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill announced on KCUR radio’s Up to Date news show that she will not enter the Democratic primary for governor. She likes serving in the Senate, McCaskill said, and she thinks she has an important role to play as a moderate. And, oh yeah, she thinks she’ll probably run for a third term in 2018.

That leaves an open field for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster as the likely Democratic nominee to challenge former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, who has announced, and maybe state Auditor Tom Schweich, who is thinking about running.

A Koster-Hanaway race, the most likely matchup for now, would be a barn burner. Koster is ruthlessly ambitious and calculating, and Hanaway was tough as nails when she presided over the House.

And McCaskill threw a little more fuel on the fire when she said she was interested in spearheading an initiative petition in 2016 to, as she put it, “clean up the embarrassment that we have in Missouri when it comes to ethics.”

She is talking about Missouri’s wide-open laws that allow politicians to accept unlimited campaign contributions from individual donors, and gifts of any size from lobbyists. McCaskill was especially critical of retired St. Louis investment banker Rex Sinquefield, who already has given Hanaway in the neighborhood of $1 million.

“Catherine Hanaway can’t salt her meat without asking Rex Sinquefield if it’s OK,” McCaskill said. There’s a line that may show in in a campaign advertisement down the road.

(It should be noted, even if McCaskill didn’t, that Koster has had his own issues with ethics and campaign contributions, including some from Sinquefield.)

I’ve always thought McCaskill would be a good governor, so I’m a little disappointed she isn’t running.

But, hey, a knock-down governor’s race between two candidates who live for big donations running concurrently with a lively citizens’ effort, championed by a U.S. senator, to limit contributions and return some ethics to Jefferson City? That sounds like a pretty good election year.

To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to bshelly@kcstar.com. On Twitter @bshelly.

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