This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 11, 2011 - House Speaker Steve Tilley announced he will not run for lieutenant governor next year, a move that could have dramatic implications for next year's election cycle.
In a statement, Tilley, R-Perryville, cited family concerns and the pressures of a statewide race for his decision.
"I am thankful and honored to have received the support of people across the state for my run for lieutenant governor," Tilley said in the statement. "I believe those same people will support my decision to spend more time with my family and focus on providing strong leadership in my final term as speaker of the Missouri House."
Tilley, who recently announced he was getting a divorce, added: "I want to spend more time with my daughters Kourtney and Korrin who are growing up fast. Being a part-time legislator turned into a full-time job when I became speaker of the Missouri House. As speaker, I have given up weekends and traveled night after night meeting around the state fulfilling my duties. Running statewide would require me to spend even a greater amount of time apart from my daughters, something I am just not willing to do."
Tilley had built up a sizable financial advantage for a statewide run. His last fundraising report showed him with around $1.54 million in the bank. He had even raised more money in the latest fund-raising quarter than the man he's seeking to replace -- Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
Kinder has said he's not running for re-election and is mulling a run for governor against Gov. Jay Nixon.
Tilley's decision leaves Republicans without a contender for the office, but soon after Tilley's announcement, state Sen. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, said he's giving "a serious look" at running for lieutenant governor.
Lager suspects he's not alone. "I think there are a lot of people looking at lieutenant governor," he said in an interview with the Beacon. "Just like everyone else, I will evaluate it."
Lager said he plans to discuss a possible candidacy with his wife "and then will make a decision based on what's best for our family and what's best for the state."
Lager, a member of a state Senate health-care panel, said he received 23 voice mail messages during today's hearing in St. Charles. He had yet to listen to them but suspected at least some dealt with a potential candidacy.
The panel's chairman -- state Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville -- said Tilley's decision won't sway him from his decision to run for secretary of state. Rupp is among three announced GOP candidates running for secretary of state.
Tilley's decision leaves Rupp and his rivals as the only announced Republican candidates for a statewide office. The GOP has no announced candidates now for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and state treasurer.
In the lieutenant governor's contest, Missouri Democratic Party chair Susan Montee, a former state auditor, and Missouri Conservation Commissioner Becky Plattner have announced runs as Democrats.
Former state Rep. Cynthia Davis, a former Republican from O'Fallon, is seeking the lieutenant governor post as a new member of the conservative Constitution Party. Davis said late Thursday that Tilley's withdrawal could help her candidacy, since she has emphasized her record as a social conservative.
St. Louis lawyer Ed Martin, a Republican now running for the 2nd District congressional seat, tweeted Thursday afternoon that he also is getting encouragement to run for lieutenant governor.
Tilley said he will remain on as House speaker. He will be termed out of the Missouri House in 2013.
"With the current economy and budget shortfalls, this is a critical crossroads in Missouri that demands leadership," Tilley said. "Not being distracted in a campaign will allow me to better serve the Missouri House and the people of this state by being fully committed to crafting practical solutions to the issues facing our state, during the rest of my time as speaker."
"While not running for lieutenant governor, I am not retiring from politics. I will remain active and plan to continue to impact public policy and Republican politics moving forward," Tilley added.
Beacon political reporter Jo Mannies contributed information for this article.
Jason Rosenbaum, a freelance journalist in St. Louis, covers state and local government and politics.