ST. LOUIS • Developer Paul McKee has already been widely criticized for exerting too much control over Jefferson City.
Come November 2012, he could gain an even stronger connection to the state Capitol.
McKee's youngest son, Chris, a developer in his own right, is running for lieutenant governor as a Republican, he announced on Monday.
But, at the same time, another Republican — a vocal critic of tax credit legislation pushed by McKee and others — entered the race, setting up an intriguing rivalry in the GOP primary.
Even more Republicans may join the race in the wake of the unexpected exit of state House Speaker Steve Tilley, who was the party's consensus choice for lieutenant governor.
"Missouri needs a pro-jobs administration in Jefferson City," McKee said in a statement Monday. "In this economic climate we need officials who understand job creation so we can start to move Missouri forward again, and I am qualified to do that."
McKee, of Frontenac, would almost certainly have to put his own money in the race to gain credibility as a novice candidate.
His candidacy may reflect frustration from the business community at the inability of state lawmakers to advance legislation during the special session last month that was seen as key to economic development in the St. Louis region.
One prominent corporate leader recently bemoaned the state's political leadership as "dysfunctional" and decried continued financial support for their re-election campaigns as "the dumbest thing I can think of."
Still, McKee may have a hard time convincing voters that he would not be simply a proxy for his father, who has a stake in almost every major discussion in the General Assembly, from the failed China hub deal to redevelopment tax credits.
Also on Monday, northwest Republican Missouri State Sen. Brad Lager — an opponent of some of the special-session proposals championed by the older McKee and others —announced his entry into the lieutenant governor race.
"Missourians are tired of self-interested politicians beholden to special interests getting in the way of good government," Lager said in a statement announcing his campaign.
It's no surprise that Lager, who ran unsuccessfully for state treasurer in 2008, is running again for statewide office. He has about $70,000 in his campaign account, and, after his second term in the Senate comes to an end, will be barred by term limits from staying.
At least two of Lager's Senate colleagues — Sens. Eric Schmitt of Glendale and Rob Mayer of Dexter — are also weighing the race for the state's No 2.
Whoever wins the GOP nomination in the August primary may face a familiar foe in the general election: Former state Auditor Susan Montee, currently chairwoman of the Missouri Democratic party.
On Friday, Montee announced plans to step down from the helm of the party to focus on her bid for lieutenant governor.
Tilley, after collecting $1.5 million for his campaign, abruptly dropped his bid for lieutenant governor on Thursday, citing a desire to spend more time with his teenage daughters.