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Sifton Jumps Into 2016 Contest For Missouri Attorney General

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

State Sen. Scott Sifton became the first Democrat to jump into the 2016 race for attorney general. 

In an e-mail this weekend to supporters, the Affton Democrat cited his experience working in the attorney general’s office and his tenure in the legislature as rationale for his statewide run. 

His campaign sent out an e-mail on Monday morning officially announcing his candidacy. He said in a statement that "as attorney general, I will work to make Missouri safer for every family, consumer, community and business.”

“My legal career began in the attorney general’s office, where I worked on special prosecutions in cases of public corruption, senior fraud, nursing home patient neglect and methamphetamine manufacturing,” Sifton said in his e-mail to supporters on Sunday. “I also defended against criminal appeals, keeping murderers, drug dealers, rapists, child abusers, and drunk drivers where juries sent them: behind bars.”
“As a senator, I have championed strong ethics rules for lawmakers and refused to accept lobbyist gifts,” he added. “I have pushed to expand the use of DNA evidence in criminal investigations, reform Missouri’s school transfer law, protect consumers and help keep seniors from getting taxed out of their homes.”

Attorney General Chris Koster is expected to run for governor in 2016, which will make his office up for grabs.

Sifton – an attorney for Husch Blackwell – was first elected to the Missouri House in 2010. He vacated that seat after a single term and went on to defeat narrowly Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, in 2012. Before he entered the Missouri General Assembly, he was a member of the Affton School Board.

During this year’s veto session, Sifton played an integral role in filibustering a bill mandating a 72-hour waiting period for abortions. Republicans took advantage of a rarely used procedural motion known as the "previous question" to end debate and then overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the legislation.

Sifton’s bid comes as the only announced Republican attorney general candidate – state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia – may have avoided, for now, a costly primary. That’s because state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, is running for state treasurer, while House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, decided to sit out the 2016 election cycle.

Jones said in an interview that he had been seriously considering a bid for attorney general, or lieutenant governor, but decided instead to spend more time with his family, his law practice and other business pursuits when his current term ends in January.

Other potential Democratic candidates for attorney general include St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker.

Sifton works for the same law firm as the likely next speaker of the House, state Rep. John Diehl, R-Town and Country.

Jo Mannies contributed some information for this article.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.