© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
We will broadcast special coverage of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, starting with the RNC tonight at 8.

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden on why he left the secretary of state race

Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, waits to speak during session on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, in Jefferson City. Senate Republican leadership has clashed with members of the Missouri Freedom Caucus holding up business.
Eric Lee
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, waits to speak during session on Jan. 25 in Jefferson City. Senate Republican leadership has clashed with members of the Missouri Freedom Caucus holding up business.

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden talked to St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Sarah Kellogg about his decision to depart the secretary of state’s contest.

The Columbia Republican had announced his statewide bid last year. He had the most campaign money of any of the GOP competitors for the post and had experience winning tough elections.

But during his appearance on Politically Speaking, Rowden cited, among other factors, how Missouri politicians no longer value consensus building.

“I think the focus on the red line-type things that tend to get people ginned up and the use of rhetoric and language that I think folks sometimes know to be not true, but just do it to get a little rise out of out of the constituency — that just was not ever something that was appealing to me,” Rowden said. “I don't care enough about being in politics to not be willing to explain the nuance to people.”

Here’s what Rowden talked about on the show:

  • The impact of his departure from the secretary of state’s race and whether it could give a leg up to Sen. Denny Hoskins — a Warrensburg Republican who has clashed with GOP leadership for years.
  • His skirmishes with the Missouri Freedom Caucus, including over the timing of passing a ballot item making it harder to amend the state’s constitution. 
  • Why he voted to take out so-called “ballot candy” on the constitutional amendment threshold increase, including a provision barring noncitizens from voting. It’s not out of the question that the language could be put back in when the proposal goes through the House.
  • How passing a budget and reauthorizing a critical tax on hospitals that funds the state Medicaid program could be very difficult.

Rowden was first elected to the Senate in 2016 after serving two terms in the House. He was reelected in 2020 but will leave after the 2024 session due to term limits.
His district now only consists of Boone County, which is Democratic-leaning. Former Democratic state Rep. Stephen Webber, whom Rowden defeated in 2016, is running for the Senate seat.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.