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Dean Plocher officially joins GOP primary for Missouri lieutenant governor

House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, listens into media questions on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, during the first day of the legislative session at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, walks into a press conference where Gabriel Gore was named the next St. Louis Circuit Attorney in May 2023 at the Mel Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.

Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher ended months of speculation about his political future Wednesday, officially announcing his candidacy for lieutenant governor.

Plocher, a Republican attorney from Des Peres, joins state Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, Franklin County Clerk Tim Baker and St. Louis County resident Paul Berry in the GOP primary. All four are vying to replace Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, who is running for governor. Democratic state Rep. Richard Brown is also running.

During his time in the legislature, Plocher has championed bills to legalize sports betting, make it harder to amend the state constitution and lower the corporate income tax. He also pushed for legislation allowing the state to take over control of the St. Louis police department and prosecutor’s office.

“Together we can lead our state to the next season of conservative accomplishments,” Plocher said in a statement announcing his candidacy.

Prior to becoming a member of the House, Plocher served as a prosecuting attorney and municipal judge in St. Louis County. He is a graduate of Ladue Horton Watkins High School and received a degree in political science with a classical civilizations minor from Middlebury College. He received his law degree from St. Louis University.

“Missouri is my home,” Plocher said. “It’s where my wife Rebecca and I chose to raise our children, but we still have work to do to secure their future.”

Plocher kicks off his campaign with a fundraising lead over his two likely GOP rivals.

His candidate committee reported nearly $500,000 cash on hand in July, and a PAC supporting his candidacy reported nearly $800,000.

Thompson Rehder reporter only $167,000 in cash in July, with a PAC supporting her reporting $161,000 this month. Baker reported less than $4,000 cash on hand in July, and Berry has not reported any fundraising totals.

Plocher’s entrance into the race comes as he faces accusations of “unlawful” conduct over his unsuccessful push to hire a private company to manage constituent information for the House.

The chief clerk of the Missouri House says Plocher directly connected his push for the contract to campaign activity and threatened her employment over her opposition. The allegations have drawn attention from federal law enforcement, with an FBI agent attending the legislative hearing where the contract was debated.

This story was originally published by the Missouri Independent, part of the States Newsroom.

Jason Hancock is a reporter covering politics and policy for The Missouri Independent.