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Politically Speaking: Scott Dieckhaus on navigating the jagged path to big GOP majorities

Scott Dieckhaus
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On this week’s episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Missouri House Republican Campaign Committee executive director Scott Dieckhaus to the program.

Dieckhaus is a former state representative from Franklin County, serving in the General Assembly’s lower chamber from 2009 to 2013. The Republican official was a teacher before going into politics, and served as the chairman of House Education Committee from 2011 to 2013. During that time, Dieckhaus and other education-minded legislators had to deal with fallout from a Missouri Supreme Court decision upholding a law allowing students to transfer away from unaccredited school districts.

Even though Dieckhaus resided in a relatively safe GOP district, he declined to run for re-election during the 2012 election cycle. Instead, he’s in charge of the House Republican Campaign Committee – one of the most politically effective and powerful third party committees in the state. The committee takes in funds from GOP lawmakers and supportive interest groups, and then uses that cash to help elect more Republicans to the House. Republicans now hold 116 House seats – and could potentially hold 118 if Gov. Jay Nixon calls special elections in vacant districts.

Here’s a sampling of what Dieckhaus said during the show:

  • There’s often a fierce battle between school administrators and teachers and interests supportive of so-called “education reform.” Dieckhaus sided often with the latter group, and managed to help craft an overhaul of the state’s charter schools.
  • The HRCC has managed to stay relevant in a Missouri world without donation limits because it’s been successful at helping Republicans win close races. It’s also likely the HRCC still receives lots of donations because contributors tend to give to political entities that have power. That's likely a reason why some legislative Democrats and their allied groups have difficulty scrounging together money.
  • It’s possible for a Democratic presidential candidate to run “relatively strong” in Missouri – but he’s not sure a Democrat could carry the state and snag Missouri's 10 electoral votes. He went on to say that presidential contender Hillary Clinton “could help the Democratic ticket" by igniting higher turnout in parts of the state. 
  •   Dieckhaus believes Republicans “still have a lot of great candidates for president.” He's a strong supporter of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
  • Dieckhaus is confident former House Speaker John Diehl’s resignation won't hurt the cause of GOP state legislative candidates next year.
  • The question of whether Republicans attempt an override of Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of the “right to work” bill is “a tough issue” for new House Speaker Todd Richardson. “I think Todd is really going to have to work the issue and have a lot of individual conversations,” he said.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Scott Dieckhaus on Twitter: @sdieckhaus

Music: HYPERPOWER! by Nine Inch Nails

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.