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Crowd of Missouri Republicans back Romney, could influence caucuses

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 1, 2011 - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney rolled out dozens of endorsements today from prominent Missouri Republicans, including many moderates as well as conservatives.

The pro-Romney lineup includes former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, who also backed Romney in 2008, as well as state House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, former U.S. Ambassador George H. (Burt) Walker III, and former state Sen. Betty Sims, R-Ladue.

Romney's list is the largest bloc of Missouri Republicans to side with a presidential hopeful, and could well be helpful in the GOP caucuses this spring that will dole out the party's delegates.

Romney also is competing in the February presidential primary election, but at the moment the GOP doesn't plan to use those results to award delegates. Such a move could be helpful to Romney, since he came in third in the 2008 presidential primary that did count. The victor was Sen. John McCain of Arizona, followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Romney said in a statement that such GOP support highlight the political importance he is placing on Missouri, which he declared "will be a critical state" in November 2012.

"Whether our country continues down the same failed path of the last three years, or chooses a different, more prosperous course might well be decided by Missouri voters," Romney said, alluding to Missouri's bellwether status (until 2008). "I look forward to working with these leaders to defeat President Obama in Missouri and help put our country on a path to prosperity."

The list does not include state Auditor Tom Schweich, a Republican who appeared with Romney at a campaign event last spring in southwest Missouri. Schweich says that's because he's part of an earlier group of Missouri Republicans who endorsed Romney. "I am 100 percent behind Mitt Romney," Schweich said.

Romney had headlined Schweich's largest fundraising event for his successful 2010 campaign bid.

Tilley, who recently dropped his bid for lieutenant governor, lauded Romney's public and private experience. "We have seen the results of having a president without experience working in the economy and they have not been good," Tilley said in Romney's release.

"Mitt Romney spent his life in the private sector and knows how economies grow and how jobs are created. Throughout his life, he has used conservative principles to turn around businesses, rescue the Olympics, and restore fiscal sanity in his state. I am honored to join his team with these outstanding leaders from Missouri. We will work hard to put him in the White House and put our country on the right track once again."

Latest list of Missouri endorsements:

Steven Tilley; Speaker of the House

George H. Walker III; Former U.S. Ambassador

Harry Otto; Deputy State Auditor

Ron Richard; State Senator

Betty Sims; Former State Senator

John Griesheimer; Former State Senator & Franklin County Commissioner

Gary Nodler; Former State Senator

Jay Barnes; State Representative

Scott Dieckhaus; State Representative

Delus Johnson; State Representative

Cole McNary; State Representative

Dwight Scharnhorst; State Representative

Sheila Solon; State Representative

Gary Dusenberg; Former State Representative

Brian Stevenson; Former State Representative

J. Daniel Patterson; Greene County Prosecuting Attorney

Steven Stevenson; Andrew County Prosecuting Attorney

Adam Warren; Livingston County Prosecuting Attorney

Gregg Grounds; Former Mayor of Blue Springs

Stephen Holt; Jasper Collector of Revenue

Dale Carter; Blue Springs City Council Member

Larry Vincent; Cole County Collector

Chris Wrigley; Cole County Commissioner

Judy Lohman; Vice Chair, Morgan County Republican Central Committee

Karen McCutcheon; Vice Chair Morgan County Republican Central Committee

Louella Pryor; Treasurer, Morgan County Republican Central Committee

Katie Smith; Former Director, Missouri Department of Agriculture

Trish Vincent; Former Director, Missouri Department of Revenue

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