Tom Schweich

Former state Auditor Tom Schweich speaks at his victory party in Clayton last November. Nixon will select somebody to serve out the remainder of Schweich's term, which runs through the end of 2018.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Jay Nixon is still mulling over a permanent replacement for former state Auditor Tom Schweich.

Nixon appointed his former chief of staff John Watson to serve as interim auditor late last month. Nixon told reporters on Monday in Wentzville that he’s getting more focused on selecting someone to fill out the rest of Schweich’s term.

Friends of Tom Schweich

Retired U.S. Sen. John Danforth  is blaming Missouri’s nasty political climate – and an alleged anti-Semitic “whispering campaign” -- for  state Auditor Tom Schweich’s suicide, and he is calling on officials in both parties to “make Tom’s death a turning point in our state.”

State Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee's Summit
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The Politically Speaking podcast team – Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies – this week welcomed state Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit and  a 2016 candidate for Missouri secretary of state.

But first, the duo joined Jefferson City correspondent Marshall Griffin in commemorating the late state Auditor Tom Schweich, who died last Thursday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A memorial service is to be held Tuesday at his church in Clayton.

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has named longtime aide John Watson as the state’s interim state auditor, until the governor can appoint a permanent replacement to state Auditor Tom Schweich, who committed suicide on Thursday.

Nixon said in a statement Friday that he was putting Watson temporarily in charge of the auditor’s office in order to comply with the state constitution’s requirement that the governor “immediately appoint’’ a replacement should the auditor’s post become vacant.  

Tom Schweich announces his bid for governor last month (January 2015)
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich came across as a relatively mild-mannered politician, but when he formally declared his candidacy for governor last month, he came out swinging.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Within minutes of the news of Auditor Tom Schweich's death, Gov. Jay Nixon ordered all flags on Missouri property lowered to half-staff.

But the governor will soon have a much bigger decision to make: who to appoint as Schweich's successor.

Missouri law seems to suggest that a decision must be made rapidly:

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich appears on St. Louis Public Radio's 'Politically Speaking' podcast in 2013.
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Beacon

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich died Thursday; he was 54.

In June 2003, Schweich was a guest on “St. Louis on the Air,” hosted by Mike Sampson. At the time, Schweich was partner at Bryan Cave, Missouri’s oldest law firm, where he helped manage internal audits and investigations for large companies. Schweich also had published a book, “Staying Power: 30 Secrets Invincible Executives Use for Getting to the Top — and Staying There.”

Tom Schweich is sworn in for his second term as state auditor in January.
Tim Bommel, House Communications

(Updated 5:10 p.m.)

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, shocking the state’s political world and throwing turmoil into the state’s 2016 contest for governor.

Ray Howze / St. Louis Public Radio

The Republican gubernatorial primary is more than a year-and-a-half away on Aug. 2, 2016, but candidates are already busy staking out their positions and priorities.

Schweich launches his campaign for governor on January 28, 2015
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich launched his campaign for governor by lashing out at the man who he says is a symbol of the “rampant corruption” in the state Capitol -- wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield.

Schweich said that Sinquefield, the state’s top political donor, has been engaging in “corrosive tactics’’ with “an army of mercenaries.’’  Their aim, he said, is to advance proposals – such as the elimination of Missouri’s income tax and replacing it with a huge sales tax -- that he says would help the wealthy but hurt small business and middle-class Missourians.

Mo. State Auditor's office

Missouri state Auditor Tom Schweich appears ready to launch his expected 2016 campaign for governor.

If so, he will be the second well-known Republican to seek the job now held by Democrat Jay Nixon, who cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

Former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway declared her candidacy last year. The only announced Democrat is Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

Schweich’s campaign sent out a release late Tuesday saying only that he is making “a major announcement’’ at 4 p.m., Wednesday at the University of Missouri-St.Louis.

Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

 Tom Schweich has begun his second term as Missouri auditor.

Flanked by members of his family, Schweich was sworn in Monday by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Russell during a small ceremony inside the state auditor's office. He told a small group of family, friends, and supporters that his office would continue to root out corruption and fraud over the next four years.

"We've got some very important state audits" coming up, Schweich said.  "We're going to continue to do what we started four years ago, (and) we're going t0 take it up a notch every day."

DON"T USE TOO SMALL Claire McCaskill
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has ended months of speculation by declaring that she’s definitely not running for governor in 2016 and is endorsing Missouri Attorney Chris Koster instead.

“I have an amazing job. I am challenged every day,” McCaskill said in an interview Monday with host Steve Kraske on KCUR-FM, the public-radio station in Kansas City.

“I love the work, and so at the end of the day, you’ve got to decide. ‘Is the job that you’re thinking about going for, is it a better job than the one you have? And can you do more?’ ”

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

State Auditor Tom Schweich has yet to decide whether to run for governor in 2016, but he’s making clear that lots of high-profile fellow Republicans want him to do so.

On Thursday, Schweich’s allies released “an open letter’’ signed by more than 120 donors and party activists who want him to run for governor.

The aim of Schweich’s supporters is to portray him as a better choice, backed by more party big shots, than former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, who already has declared her candidacy – and has promoted her own high-profile support.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1991, then-Missouri Attorney General Bill Webster’s ascension to become the next governor seemed inevitable. He had the looks, charisma, campaign cash and the connections.

But then a controversy erupted over whether his office was giving preferential treatment to donors when it came to state contracts. A federal investigation ensued. Webster’s reputation took a huge hit.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

This week, the Politically Speaking crew welcomes Gregg Keller, a locally based Republican consultant who now runs his own firm, Atlas Strategy Group.

Keller represents a number of corporate and political clients, including state Auditor Tom Schweich, who’s expected to run for governor in 2016.

A graduate of Clayton High School, Keller got his political start after college (Florida State). He began as a volunteer, and later as a staffer, for Jim Talent when he ran in 2002 for the U.S. Senate (defeating Democratic incumbent Jean Carnahan).

Friends of Tom Schweich

The only statewide political office up for grabs in Missouri this year doesn't appear to be anywhere near up for grabs.

State Auditor Tom Schweich, a Republican, is facing only token opposition from the Libertarian and Constitution parties, and the Democrats are not fielding a challenger. This contest may serve more as a campaign for Schweich's next political goal:

Libertarian nominee Sean O'Toole brought it up during a sit-down interview in September, saying that Tom Schweich is actually running for governor.

Rex Sinquefield
Courtesy of Rex Sinquefield's website

Former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway got $750,000 this week from wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield for her 2016 campaign for governor. That’s more than 10 times what she raised during the past three months.

That huge donation was condemned late Wednesday by her potential rival, state Auditor Tom Schweich, a fellow Republican. His campaign accused Hanaway of being “dependent on one man and his self-proclaimed ‘political army.’ “

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

State Auditor Tom Schweich is taking aim at a gated Downtown St. Louis parking lot that he says should be open to the public. 

At issue is a parking lot at 1100 Washington Ave., in the heart of downtown’s bar and entertainment district. The lot is maintained by the Washington Avenue Transportation Development District (TDD), which relies on a 1-cent retail sales tax to maintain and cultivate transportation infrastructure around Washington Avenue.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

Among the public policy issues that have emerged since Michael Brown’s death, reforming municipal courts appears to have gained the most traction

Last week, Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich announced which municipal courts his office was investigating to see whether they’re keeping more traffic fine revenue than what’s allowed under state law.

St. Ann was one of the 10 municipalities on Schweich's list.

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