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Politically Speaking: Departing Missouri GOP chairman leaves on a high note

John Hancock Dec. 2016
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock, as he prepares to leave that post in a few weeks.

Hancock, a former state legislator from St. Louis County and a political consultant, has been state chairman for arguably two of the most eventful years in the Missouri GOP’s modern history.

He was elected state party chairman in February 2015 just days before then-Auditor Tom Schweich committed suicide. Hancock became a target of Schweich allies who accused the chairman of engaging in a “whispering campaign’’ against the auditor, then a candidate for governor. Hancock denied saying anything to smear Schweich, and declined to step down.

Now, Hancock leaves his post – returning to his old job as a political consultant – after what may be the strongest Republican showing in Missouri since the 1980s. Republicans captured all the statewide offices on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Among Hancock’s observations during the podcast:

  • He has strong praise for his expected successor, Kansas City lawyer Todd Graves, who’s the choice of Gov.-elect Eric Greitens.
  • He ties Trump’s huge win in the state, by close to 19 percentage points, to the “grassroots passion’’ in rural Missouri that, among other things, attracted people to the polls who hadn’t voted in years.
  • Trump’s strength could set off a political realignment that solidifies Republican control of government on the national and state levels for decades, depending on Trump’s popularity in 2018, the next major election.
  • Hancock predicted that the Missouri GOP will see competitive primaries in 2018 among Republicans vying to challenge U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and state Auditor Nicole Galloway, who likely will be the only remaining Missouri Democrats holding statewide office.
  • He reaffirmed his belief that multi-candidate primaries aren’t necessarily damaging to the party’s chances in the fall, as long as there are three or more candidates.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow John Hancock on Twitter: @JohnRHancock

Music: "The Entertainer," as performed by John Hancock

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.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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