State Rep. Cole McNary entered the Missouri treasurer's race Thursday, becoming the first Republican to officially mount a challenge to Democratic Treasurer Clint Zweifel in next year's elections.
McNary, of Chesterfield, cast himself as a "fiscal conservative" while pledging to oust special interests and "to get our state government off our backs and back on our side."
Yet McNary told the Associated Press he has no particular complaints about the way Zweifel has run the office.
"I don't have any knock against the current treasurer, I'm just saying I'm a good candidate and I can do that job," McNary said.
McNary, 47, said he worked as a business analyst at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and a sales representative at Monsanto before returning to college and getting his teaching certificate. Shortly after getting a job teaching high school math, McNary was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2008. He is the son of another politician - Gene McNary, who was elected as St. Louis County prosecutor and executive and lost a 1980 U.S. Senate race and a 1984 Republican gubernatorial primary.
Like Cole McNary, Zweifel was a state House member from the St. Louis area when he first ran for treasurer in 2008. Zweifel, 38, now lives in Columbia.
"I am confident about the position I am in as I seek re-election in 2012 no matter who my opponent is," Zweifel said Thursday in an emailed statement. "Since my first day on the job as state treasurer, I have focused on running a transparent and fiscally accountable office that gets more for Missouri's tax dollars."
Zweifel had more than $720,000 in his campaign account at the end of September, the most recent reporting period. McNary had a little more than $28,000 in his campaign account. But McNary said Republican Tom Schweich's victory over Democratic Auditor Susan Montee in the 2010 elections gives him confidence an incumbent treasurer also can be unseated.
McNary's entry into the treasurer's race comes a day after a judicial panel released new boundaries for state House districts for the 2012 elections. Were he to seek re-election, McNary could find himself in a primary against two other Republican incumbents who were drawn into the same district as him.
But McNary said the new legislative districts had no bearing on his decision to run for treasurer, which he said he had resolved to do shortly before the new maps were released.
"You need a conservative who's going to be a watchdog on how the state spends its money," McNary said.
Zweifel said he has approached the treasurer's job "in a bipartisan way that puts taxpayers ahead of politics."