Republican Missouri lawmaker launches campaign for governor promising a ‘reckoning’

Sen. Bill Eigel, a Weldon Spring Republican.

With two prominent Missouri Republicans already in the race, Bill Eigel, a hard-right state senator, launched his campaign for governor Friday, calling for a “reckoning” in Jefferson City.

Eigel, first elected to the Senate in 2016, has been a vocal member of a right-wing faction of senators in the General Assembly. The Republican from Weldon Spring, just west of St. Louis, enters a primary that features two of the state’s top Republicans, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe.

“We need a bold, hard-charging conservative outsider in leadership, and that’s why I’m running to be the next governor of the great state of Missouri,” Eigel said in a statement to The Star. “I’m running to finally deliver a Missouri that is as conservative as her people. It’s time for a reckoning for the Jefferson City Swamp; I’m going to be that reckoning.”

Eigel had floated an exploratory campaign for months to try to build up support. He was scheduled to hold a campaign event in St. Charles on Friday.

Eigel is certain to run a campaign appealing to the right wing of the Missouri Republican Party. During his time in office, Eigel has led a group of Republicans who have spent hours chewing up floor debates to rail against the more moderate GOP leadership.

One of his priorities has been to eliminate the state’s personal property tax. He has also frequently delved into GOP social issues, last year calling on Bob Nation, the mayor of Chesterfield in suburban St. Louis, to ensure that a planned drag show did not allow kids.

On the final day of this past legislative session in May, Eigel held the Senate floor for much of the morning to rail against his fellow senators for not allowing his bill cutting personal property taxes to come up for a vote. He delivered an extended “Star Wars” analogy about how senators faced a “Darth Vader moment” — a test of their character.

Eigel will likely try to craft a campaign that runs to the right of both Ashcroft and Kehoe. Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who assumed office in 2018 after the resignation of Gov. Eric Greitens, can’t run again because of term limits.

Before Eigel’s announcement, Kehoe’s campaign criticized Eigel without mentioning him by name in a statement to The Star, saying Kehoe was “the only candidate for governor with the character, values, and conservative vision to take on the unhinged Left and secure Missouri’s future.”

“That’s why conservatives from every corner of Missouri are investing in our campaign in record amounts while other candidates are focused on writing memos with fake poll numbers and scamming fixed-income seniors out of their hard-earned money using President Trump’s name,” the statement said.

The statement was referring to a recent article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch showing that a political action committee supporting Eigel had been soliciting donations using former President Donald Trump’s name.

Ashcroft’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about Eigel’s planned announcement. The secretary of state has tried to craft a campaign appealing to right-wing voters.

Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade of Springfield is the only Democrat to enter the race so far.

Eigel previously served in the U.S. Air Force for eight years and later purchased a remodeling company in the St. Louis area, according to his legislative biography. He lives in Weldon Spring with his wife, Amanda, and their two children.