State Senator and Congressional candidate Gary Nodler said he's not yet settled on a decision over whether to give up his Budget chairmanship next year, but is leaning "a certain direction."
Nodler, who was appointed Appropriations Chair in 2007, has touted his experience in crafting a budget in his campaign for the 7th Congressional District.
But allies of Nodler's opponents believe the Jasper County Senator should and will ultimately step down from the powerful chairmanship in order to avoid any potential conflicts as he ramps up his U.S. House campaign.
"I'll decide well before the session starts," Nodler said in an interview. "It wouldn't be appropriate for me to make a public statement now before I meet with members of my caucus."
Nodler said his final decision could come by November. "I've not made a certain decision yet. I'm leaning in a certain direction," he said.
Sen. Rob Mayer, vice-chair of Appropriations, said he's spoken to Nodler about the chairmanship on a few occasions over the past year.
"He has indicated that at some point later this year, he'd look at whether or not to return to the position or step down," Sen. Mayer said. "He said he'd make a decision later in the year."
Mayer, of Dexter, said that Senate GOP leader Charlie Shields is well aware of his desire to become chairman if Nodler chooses to step down.
Some of Nodler's opponents have privately suggested that the Senator is hanging onto the chairmanship for as long as possible for fundraising purposes.
House Budget Chair Allen Icet seems determined to hang on to his powerful position in the lower chamber as he runs for State Auditor next year. But supporters of Icet's primary opponent, Tom Schweich, have cried fowl. "It brings into question the concept of pay to play," GOP donor Neal Etheridge told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently.
Nodler said he's received no pressure from Senate leadership to step aside. But multiple sources say that Nodler will likely relinquish the chairmanship before the year is out.
"I've got a pretty good idea of how it's going to play out," Nodler said. "It's just a bit premature to talk about it right now."