JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – When John Hancock was elected chairman of the Missouri Republican Party last month, he did so with a strong margin of support by a 68 member committee in his campaign against two others from southern Missouri.
That support was reiterated last week, when more than a dozen members of the Missouri Republican State Committee responded to a PoliticMo inquiry with their belief that Hancock should remain chairman, even after two weeks of questions surrounding an alleged whisper campaign in the lead up to the suicide of State Auditor Tom Schweich and subsequent calls for his resignation from Republican leaders.
But on Friday, Gail Cox – who represents Carter County, Missouri, on the state committee – broke from the pack. In a letter to the other committee members, Cox said she did not see a way for the party’s leadership to remain viable with Hancock holding the reins.
“I can only feel that we will always be seen by the Schweich family and friends as a party to the situation that drove Tom to such a desperate end. This concept is a sad commentary for us,” she wrote. “It is with a heavy heart that I believe we must consider asking John to step aside as committee chair for the overall effectiveness our cause.”
Hancock, a St. Louis-based Republican operative, had denounced allegations by those close to Schweich that he had spread a rumor that the Republican gubernatorial candidate was Jewish in an effort to lure away potential supporters.
Read the letter:
“As the tragic events surrounding the death of Tom Schweich continue to affect the MRP committee, I see public perception of our efforts being greatly compromised. When we met on February 21, many committee members were filled with optimism for the future of conservatism in Missouri. Now optimism seems the last among the descriptors for our mission.
The words and feelings that continue to pour from many sources publically air what should never have been. I continue trying to understand what the mention of anyone’s religious preferences has to do with a campaign other than “play politics”.
Politics is not a game and should not leave the door open to “anything goes” behaviors.
Departure from this pipe dream continues to leave a trail of questions and skepticism about our new chairman. I appreciate John’s remorse and statements of apology. However, we as a committee appear as supporters of recent events and the related innuendos as long as we stand in his support.
For weeks I have agonized over the situation and can find no personal peace. August marks the 25th anniversary of our son’s suicide. Even passage of a quarter of a century does not yield peace to such a tragedy. I can only feel that we will always be seen by the Schweich family and friends as a party to the situation that drove Tom to such a desperate end. This concept is a sad commentary for us.
Receiving the Eli Yokley email on Tuesday gave me a perspective that we are publically seen as parties who bear some responsibility to what has happened. I find this reprehensible concept humiliating.
So what do we do! Live with the yoke that is all over our faces? Moving forward for the Republican cause in Missouri looks like an insurmountable endeavor. Now that dirty laundry has been aired, fact or fiction, we must find a way to regain our dignity and pull together strength that will enable us to promote the platform and people we support.
In the past I have supported John Hancock. Today I believe we must reexamine what is best for MRP, reevaluate how we can best proceed forward for our state and our grandchildren. It is with a heavy heart that I believe we must consider asking John to step aside as committee chair for the overall effectiveness our cause.”
I submit this after much prayer, personal introspection and with sorrow.