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McNary - the legislator - announces GOP bid for state treasurer in 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 1, 2011 - State Rep. Cole McNary, R-Chesterfield, says today's announcement that he is running for Missouri state treasurer has nothing to do with Wednesday's release of a new redistricting map that tosses him in the same district with two GOP colleagues.

"I'm sorry that the maps came out the same day I decided to go for it," said McNary. "It's not related at all."

The new House map puts McNary in the same district as fellow Reps. John Diehl and Rick Stream, also Republicans.

McNary, 47, is in the midst of his second term in the Missouri House. He is the son of former St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary.

So far, he's the only Republican who has officially challenged incumbent state Treasurer Clint Zweifel, a Democrat.

McNary says he's seeking the post because he sees it as a way to further his interest in making state government smaller and more efficient. "There's some big issues that all the states have to deal with," McNary said.

Spending on health care, public education and public-employee pensions, he continued, are "bankrupting the states."

McNary said he loves focusing on those issues in the Missouri House, but believes that he could also make strides as state treasurer. "It struck me as a good opportunity," he said.

McNary said he has discussed his candidacy with his father, who warned him of the rigors of a statewide campaign. The elder McNary made two unsuccessful statewide bids in the 1980s, for governor and the U.S. Senate. Gene McNary also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2000.

In his written announcement, Cole McNary said, "Over the past few weeks I've been talking with people from across the state about the need for a strong fiscal conservative in the Treasurer's office. I believe the support is there and I can't wait to hit the campaign trail."

"Missouri families are worried about the future, and so am I. It's time to get our state government off our backs and back on our side." said McNary. "I want to be part of the solution by taking the special interest out of out state government."

UPDATE: The Missouri Democratic Party reacted to McNary's candidacy by noting that he has made no public comments disparaging Zweifel's performance. Zweifel has held the post since 2009.

"It's not surprising Treasurer Zweifel's new opponent has only positive things to say about him," said state Democratic Party spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki. "It underscores the work Treasurer Zweifel has been doing to protect Missouri's investments in a tough economic time. At a time when voters are frustrated with the bitter partisanship in Jefferson City and Washington, Clint is the kind of serious leader we need who puts results for taxpayers ahead of politics."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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