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Government, Politics & Issues

Schweich relieved and excited after winning state auditor's race

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 3, 2010 - Tom Schweich, Missouri's newly elected state auditor, expressed relief and excitement after taking the concession call just after midnight from his Democratic opponent, incumbent Susan Montee.

"I met a lot of great people in the campaign -- I have a lot of great support," he said, as a handful of those stalwart supporters stayed to the end at his small election watch party at J. Buck's Restaurant in Clayton. "The campaigning is not really my business. I've never run for anything before. What I really want is the job, and the idea that now I get to go do the job is very exciting for me."

Schweich also reiterated his promise to serve out the four-year term as auditor, though he acknowledged that life has a way of sending opportunities his way.

Schweich, an attorney with the Bryan Cave law firm in St. Louis, teaches at Washington University. Before that, he worked for the U.S. State Department, served as chief of staff for John Danforth during the former senator's stint as U.S. representative to the United Nations and then was appointed by President George W. Bush to an ambassador-level position responsible for reducing drug production in Afghanistan.

"Look at what my life's been like the past six years. First I'm at the U.N. Then I'm in Washington. Then I'm in Afghanistan. Now I'm teaching at Washington University,'' he said. "What happens after four years? Look at what's happened the last six years. I can't predict that, but what I can tell you is that I'm going to spend four years serving as state auditor."

Schweich took the lead in the race as soon as the polls closed and held it through the night. The final tally put Schweich at 50.9 percent, with 971,953 votes; Montee at 45.4 percent, with 867,663 votes and Libertarian Charles W. Baum at 3.7 percent with 70,616 votes.

Schweich, a political novice, credited his win to assembling the right team of people and running an out-state campaign.

"When you're from St. Louis, you have to go out-state,'' he said. "We went right to Springfield, a Republican stronghold in Missouri. I built a great base of supporters there. And then I got a couple of good young people who wanted to win real bad to work on the campaign.''

 

Schweich also acknowledged the support of loyal state Republicans, including Danforth, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, party fundraiser Sam Fox, who is also a former U.S. ambassador to Hungary and George Herbert "Bert" Walker III, a cousin of former President George H.W. Bush.

For the past 16 months, Schweich said he put most of his law practice aside and taught only a couple of days a week, while devoting 90 percent of his time to winning the primary and now the general election.

"What I did to win was I told people my qualifications,'' he said. "The theme of my professional career has been the ability to root out corruption and fraud and waste and abuse in different contexts."

Schweich said he plans to keep his house in St. Louis County and will find a second residence in Jefferson City. He said another key to his victory was that he was able to get more votes in St. Louis County than most statewide Republicans do.

"People know me here," he said. "They followed my activities in Afghanistan and other things that have gone on."

Schweich said that a collateral benefit of campaigning was getting to know the residents of all four corners of the state. He described Springfield as his "second home" now.

Although Montee criticized Schweich's candidacy because he is not an accountant, he said voters were willing to hear why he was qualified.

"I am not a flashy guy, but I have a lot of experience doing the kind of thing the auditor does in a lot of different contexts,"he said.

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