Updated 12:11 p.m. with statement from Neal Ethridge, Springfield businessman and former chairman of the 7th District Congressional Republican Committee
A Springfield-area defense attorney who was the treasurer of Tom Schweich's successful run for auditor in 2010 has filed documents with the Internal Revenue Service to form a committee supporting Schweich for Senate.
Joseph Passanise created the 527 committee on Tuesday. He is listed as the treasurer of the new committee, which has as its purpose "to support candidate for office - U.S. Senate."
Schweich has not filed with the Missouri Secretary of State's office for the seat, and his office directed calls to Republican strategist James Harris. Passanise also directed calls to Harris, who ran Peter Kinder's 2008 campaign for lieutenant governor.
If Schweich decides to enter the primary race, he would be the fourth major Republican candidate to do so. U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, businessman John Brunner and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman have already filed to run, as have two other lesser-known candidates.
Campaign finance records show that Schweich has raised about $72,000 since opening a new state campaign committee in August 2011.
St. Louis Public Radio has received a statement via Harris from Neal Ethridge, Springfield businessman and former chairman of the 7th District Congressional Republican Committee:
“Tom Schweich has been receiving daily phone calls from Republicans around Missouri, as well as being approached by people at Lincoln Day events across our state, asking him to consider entering the U.S. Senate race. They have voiced a variety of concerns regarding the current field of candidates and believe Tom’s credentials are what we need. I agree with their assertions that the stakes are very high for our country in this election cycle, and the Missouri Senate is a vital component to getting America back on track. I personally hope Tom will consider running for the U.S. Senate. However, he has made no decision to run at this point and is focused today on serving the people of Missouri as their State Auditor. However, unlike some candidates, Tom thought it prudent to have the required paperwork filed while he considers a potential candidacy.” – Neal Ethridge, Springfield businessman and former chairman of the 7th District Congressional Republican Committee.