John Hancock. No, not that John Hancock. The John Hancock who spent 6 years as the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party. The John Hancock who worked as a state legislator and was twice the GOP nominee for Missouri Secretary of State. Of course, today you probably know him better as 2012 Missouri Senate Candidate John Brunner.
Ever since Claire McCaskill defeated Jim Talent in the 2006 Missouri Senate race, the GOP has been searching for the right candidate to take that seat away from her in the 2012 election. They have had their pick of willing candidates over the last couple of years leading up to the election. Ed Martin, who barely lost his bid for Missouri’s 3rd District in a run against incumbent Russ Carnahan. Todd Akin, who succeeded Senator Talent in 2000 in Missouri’s 2nd District. Sarah Steelman, who served as a Missouri State Senator and State Treasurer.
So where does John Brunner/John Hancock fit in to all of this?
John Hancock’s most recent credentials place him at the head of the Missouri GOP. The national GOP is frustrated with Todd Akin, and for good reason: he occasionally refuses to toe the party line. When George W. Bush pushed for the passage of TARP, Akin opposed. Vocally. When the GOP pushed for the bipartisan passage of multiple CRs that would raise the debt ceiling and keep the government from shutting down, Akin voted only to protect troop funding and for CRs that including stipulations that would force spending cuts and balanced budget resolutions to be a part of the upcoming budget negotiations. In other words, most of the CRs Akin signed his name to would never get past either the Senate or the President.
The upshot is this: Akin is not a bipartisan legislation kind of guy. There is a reason that he has a 100% pro-life rating from the NRLC. There is a reason that he has the most conservative voting record in Congress. There is a reason that Akin is one of the few veteran legislators in the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. There is a reason, therefore, that anyone who believes that compromise in government is a good thing, might be irritated with Akin. There is a reason that those people might be concerned at the prospect of having a seasoned conservative with a spine in arguably the most crucial senate race of our generation.
John Brunner used to be one of Todd Akin’s biggest campaign donors. In fact, Brunner has donated to every Akin campaign since 1999. I suppose it’s just coincidence that the funding dried up practically just moments before Akin officially announced his Senate campaign. Even though rumors of a John Brunner Senate campaign were swirling before Akin formally announced… I suppose that could just be coincidence, but in my limited experience in politics, I have learned that “coincidence” is simply code for “two things I was hoping no one would notice were connected.”
Again, what does John Hancock have to do with this? John Brunner keeps telling Missouri that he is not a career politician. And he isn’t. But to defeat seasoned veterans like Akin and even Steelman (who is new to the national scene, but well acquainted with the process), he has certainly surrounded himself with the best team that money can buy. And in the months leading up to Brunner’s formal announcement in October 2011, John Hancock’s was the only voice Missouri heard. John Hancock promoted Brunner as a prospect. John Hancock talked about the benefits of Brunner’s business experience. John Hancock used his name to whet Missouri’s appetite for the regular guy who could bring common sense back to Missouri politics. Some local news outlets even joked that they expected Hancock to make the speech formally announcing Brunner’s candidacy, Brunner was so far removed from the process up to that point.
So why is it that Hancock kept Brunner away from the public until he officially announced his campaign? Was he afraid that if he let the “non-career politician” speak, he would say something regrettable? Was he afraid that Brunner might throw a fellow conservative activist under the bus while simultaneously trampling the First Amendment? Was he afraid Brunner might endanger the Sarah Palin endorsement he courted for months by degrading her in public? We may never know.
I’m sure it’s just coincidence.