DANFORTH EXPECTED TO ENDORSE BLUNT
In his decision not to launch a bid for U.S. Senate, Thomas Schweich negotiated a deal with Roy Blunt's allies to potentially run for State Auditor in 2010, according to numerous G.O.P. sources across the state.
Multiple sources tell The Notebook that Schweich expressed interest in running for the state office, but that he wanted some assurances that the G.O.P. primary field would be cleared.
"Tom Schweich cut a deal to run for auditor," one source plainly put in, speaking anonymously in order to not offend the parties involved. "He wants to run unopposed in a primary," the source added.
The sources said that in his travels around the state, the virtually unknown former U.S. ambassador and law professor eventually determined that he could not win a Republican primary against Blunt -- but still had the appetite for a political campaign.
Schweich did not respond to a phone call and e-mail Thursday afternoon.
When asked if Congressman Roy Blunt agreed to back Schweich for Auditor if he got out of the U.S. Senate race, spokesman Rich Chrismer replied, "of course not."
"Potential candidates must make their own decisions about whether to run for office," Chrismer said.
Schweich announced Thursday afternoon that he would not run for U.S. Senate, and urged Republicans to unite behind Blunt. On May 15th, he said that he was hearing from many people around the state that "a fresh face" was needed to lead the party, and said he had as good a chance at beating probable Democratic opponent Robin Carnahan as anyone else in the field.
On Thursday night, Sen. Jack Danforth, an enthusiastic backer of Schweich, was expected to endorse Blunt for U.S. Senate at the Spirit of Enterprise gala in St. Louis.
Just a month ago, Danforth said: "I think we have a better chance at keeping Senator Bond's seat with Tom Schweich than anyone else I can think of."
The turnaround is stark, but not surprising if Schweich follows through with his plans to pursue the State Auditor race. But one Republican cautioned, "the situation remains fluid."
This source said that many believed Danforth's backing of Schweich made him a serious contender for U.S. Senate -- and that this quick reversal shows that Schweich may hold unpredictable intentions.
It now appears that former state treasurer Sarah Steelman remains the lone obstacle for Blunt in having a clear shot at the G.O.P. nomination. While some Republicans have urged Steelman to run for Auditor, allies close to her have suggested that's highly unlikely.