It's been a rough few weeks for Missouri Speaker of the House Steve Tilley.
In mid-October he disclosed that he and his wife of eighteen years, Kellie, were divorcing. Around the same time, state Senate leaders-- fellow Republicans!-- were blaming him for the special session's collapse. Then in early November, the Kansas City Star reported that a company he once partially owned paid nearly $50,000 in back taxes for two of its airplanes.
Well, yesterday Tilley announced that he was dropping his bid for lieutenant governor. The move was surprising considering that Tilley appeared to be cruising toward a smooth election. He had $1.5 million in the campaign war chest. He faced no primary opponent. And, though two Democrats have declared plans to run for the seat, no viable competitor has emerged. It looked like the carpet was rolled out for him.
According to KMOX, Tilley cited family reasons for the decision. A statewide election, he stated, would "require me to spend even a greater amount of time apart from my daughters, something I am just not willing to do."
Now, Missouri Republicans, who pretty much had a lock down on the lieutenant governor spot, must fish up a replacement for Tilley. Current lieutenant governor Peter Kinder, who has had personal issues of his own, has still not officially announced his candidacy for governor and it is possible that he decides to slide back into his present chair. And for what it's worth, hours after Tilley's announcement, somebody started a "Draft Ed Martin for Lt. Gov" Twitter page. Martin is currently running for U.S. Congress in the 2nd District.
Tilley, an optometrist from Perryville, will remain Speaker of the House. He still has a year left on his fourth term as a state representative. Tilley, if you'll remember, was one of the key players in getting a local police control bill passed out of the House (twice) this year. He has earned a reputation for being open-minded and putting principles over partisanship.