Schweich swipes at Schaefer for “premature” 2016 announcement

image– Republican State Auditor Tom Schweich told supporters Saturday that party leaders and potential statewide candidates need to refocus “on the task at hand” in 2014: His reelection and defending the GOP’s veto-proof majorities in the General Assembly.

Without explicitly mentioning his name, Schweich swiped at state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, who announced his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination for attorney general earlier in the week.

“This is not good for the party– or the candidates who make these premature announcements,” Schweich wrote in a fundraising email to supporters. “Declaring a candidacy more than three years before the 2016 elections undermines our 2014 effort, and it opens the 2016 candidates up to three years of media scrutiny– indeed some damaging negative press has already appeared relative to those candidates who have been jumping the gun.”

Schweich said with the new leadership of the Democratic Party and Attorney General Chris Koster’s pledge to fight to gain back seats in the General Assembly, people like Schaefer and others should focus on winning elections in 2014.

While Schaefer is the only Republican who has explicitly declared his candidacy for 2016, he is not the only Republican who is making his interest known. House Speaker Tim Jones, for instance, has said he will likely seek the Republican nomination for the same office, but has stopped short of declaring his candidacy.

In a statement Saturday afternoon, Schaefer scoffed at the notion that he should play coy about his interest in the seat.

“I see no reason why I shouldn’t be honest with voters about my intention to run for Attorney General,” Schaefer said. “Engaging in a nondescript and general statewide campaign, when you know full well what office you will ultimately seek, certainly seems less than genuine to me.”

Aside from Schaefer and Jones, a handful of Republicans have been working the political scene already seeking support for 2016 candidacies. Former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, now a lawyer in St. Louis, has been quietly working the political circuit throughout the year. And even Schweich has made his interest known in a possible 2016 statewide candidacy, assuming his reelection campaign is successful.