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Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher says secretary of state best fits his experience

Representative, Dean Plocher, District 089, Republican, Speaker of the House poses for a portrait at the St. Louis Public Radio Station on Monday June 17, 2024.
Theo R. Welling
St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher poses for a portrait at St. Louis Public Radio on Monday. Plocher is one of eight Republicans seeking to be Missouri's next secretary of state.

Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher originally saw the lieutenant governor’s office as the next step in his political career.

“The lieutenant governor field at the time looked like a good spot because there were so many people running for secretary of state,” Plocher said.

However, when Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, dropped out of the secretary of state’s race, the Des Peres Republican decided to jump in.

“It seemed to be a great opportunity to fill the void that I think the public needs, they needed a good candidate with a good background in that race,” Plocher said.

Plocher is one of eight Republicans seeking to become Missouri’s next secretary of state.

Other Republican candidates in the race include state Sens. Mary Elizabeth Coleman and Denny Hoskins, Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller, state Rep. Adam Schwadron, Wentzville municipal judge Mike Carter, St. Louis County resident Jamie Corley and St. Louis resident Valentina Gomez. House Rep. Barbara Phifer is the most well-known Democrat candidate who filed.

During an episode of St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking, Plocher said his background qualifies him for the position. He has experience in securities working for Franklin Templeton, as well as volunteering as an election judge.

He said he doesn’t think an ethics investigation earlier this year or a pending lawsuit against him will negatively affect his campaign.

Plocher faced misconduct allegations beginning in the fall of 2023, when it was revealed he had filed expense reports seeking reimbursement for bills already paid by his campaign.

Plocher, who has since paid that money back, said the double reimbursements were due to “too many cooks in the kitchen.”

“There's too many people asking for something I didn't ask for. My staff asked for it. Other people put things on a bill that I didn't bill,” Plocher said.

The ethics investigation included allegations of favoritism for pursuing a software contract for the House, and for firing his chief of staff.

He said the ethics investigation and a lawsuit against him by House Chief Clerk Dana Rademen Miller alleging retaliation over those issues have strengthened him as a candidate.

“I think that actually makes me a better candidate, because they're attacking me for the successes we've had as a whole in the House, because we passed conservative legislation,” Plocher said.

The House Ethics Committee ultimately dismissed the complaint against Plocher. However, the committee’s report, which was also voted down, accused Plocher of obstructing the investigation.

Here are other topics surrounding the secretary of state’s office that Plocher talked about on the show:

  • Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft created headlines when he established rules that would deny state support to libraries if they did not create policies allowing parents to designate what materials would be accessible to children. While Plocher agrees with Ashcroft’s rules, he thinks the secretary of state shouldn’t serve as a “library czar.”
  • Plocher does not believe the state should switch from using machines to count ballots to only hand counting them. He said that he fervently believes in paper ballots, but that the error rate with machines is not at a level that requires hand counting.
  • He approves of a bill that only the House passed this year that would add a proof of citizenship marker to Missouri driver’s licenses as a requirement to vote.
  • If elected secretary of state, Plocher would continue to push to make it harder to amend Missouri’s constitution.

Plocher was first elected to the Missouri House in 2015. He served as speaker in 2023 and 2024.

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.