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Martin not running for governor, sticking with Congress

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 9, 2011 - A supportive Facebook page notwithstanding, St. Louis lawyer Ed Martin has decided against running for Missouri governor and will stick with his current quest for the Republican nomination for the 2nd District congressional seat, a spokesman says.

"He will not be running for governor,'' spokesman Rush James said today. "Ed's intention is to change Washington, and that has been his focus from the beginning."

Martin had touched off a flurry of talk after his radio appearance on KMOX (1120 AM) a week ago, in which he said he was considering yet another campaign switch in the wake of encouragement to run for governor.

James acknowledged that the campaign "sat down and discussed it,'' but ultimately Martin decided to stick with his congressional campaign. He is competing against former Ambassador Ann Wagner, a former state GOP chief who has outpaced Martin in fundraising and endorsements.

Martin earlier had been a candidate for the U.S. Senate when he shifted to the House contest months ago. Martin lately also had been seen as a potential contender for lieutenant governor, during the GOP frenzy following House Speaker Steve Tilley's surprise decision last month to drop out.

Among the reasons for the talk has been the list of prominent Republicans who have signed on as "friends'' on the Facebook page "Draft Martin for Governor,'' the creation of which has been tied by some to Martin's allies.

Those who have signed up as "friends'' to the page, or posted complimentary comments, include state Sens. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, and Brian Nieves, R-Washington, former state Rep. Allen Icet, current state Rep. Paul Curtman, Missouri Right to Life president Pam Fichter and former state Rep. Carl Bearden, who now heads a fiscally conservative group, United For Missouri.

But a sampling of queries with some of the above indicates that their comments weren't necessarily intended as outright endorsements of Martin. Nieves, for example, said he wasn't endorsing anybody for governor or lieutenant governor until later, when it becomes clear who's running and who's not.

That Facebook page also had a few liberal Democrats on the "friends" list, signaling some may be just wanting to monitor what's posted on the page -- and "friending'' it is one way to keep tabs.

In any event, the broader question may be how Republican conservatives are viewing their most prominent contender for governor at the moment, wealthy businessman Dave Spence -- who a week ago put $2 million of his own money into his campaign.

That may have prompted some serious soul or pocketbook searching by other potential rivals, including Martin. But so far, most prominent conservatives appear to be keeping their thoughts to themselves.

Meanwhile, the Missouri Democratic Party has responded by ignoring Martin and continuing its focus on Spence:

"It's pretty obvious why so many of Missouri's leading conservatives are uneasy with David Spence's candidacy," said party spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki. "This guy not only supported the bank bailouts, but took a $40 million bailout to his own bank -- and then, making matters much worse -- refused to pay the taxpayers back.  Spence should expect all Missouri taxpayers, not just his "conservative base, to have serious questions about his $40 million bank bailout."

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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