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Mark McCloskey Shakes Up Already Unpredictable Missouri U.S. Senate Race

Mark and Patricia McCloskey are now facing felony charges for unlawful use of a weapon. Our legal roundtable will discuss the merits of the charge.
File Photo / Bill Greenblatt
Mark and Patricia McCloskey are now facing felony charges for unlawful use of a weapon. Our legal roundtable will discuss the merits of the charge.

St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey, who gained national attention when he pointed a gun at protesters walking by his home, announced Tuesday he’s running for the U.S. Senate.

“People are just sick of it,” McCloskey said of current elected officials. “They don’t want any more posers and egotists and career politicians going to D.C. All we hear is talk. And nothing ever changes.”

McCloskey made those comments on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News. He joins former Gov. Eric Greitens and Attorney General Eric Schmitt as announced GOP candidates, along with at least five Democrats.

In a web video that was sent to St. Louis Public Radio before he went on Carlson’s show, McCloskey contended that he wouldn’t “back down” from a raft of liberal adversaries.

“When was the last time a politician defended you?” McCloskey said in the video. “Defended America? Stood between you and the mob? We need defenders. But all we get is dividers. Every day they teach us to hate each other: Left versus right. Black versus white. Rich versus poor. This is a tactic to destroy us.”

“But we are all Americans,” he continued. “We are Missourians. Our nation, our state, our homes are worth defending.”

McCloskey could be a formidable contender to succeed Roy Blunt because of the widespread attention that he and his wife, Patricia, received last year.

The McCloskeys were photographed aiming guns at demonstrators who were walking to then-St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house. Their home is on a private, gated street in the Central West End, and they said they felt their lives and their home were in danger.

They have both pleaded not guilty to felony unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence in felony possession.

While the McCloskeys faced widespread scrutiny after images of them brandishing weapons hit social media, they gained popularity among Republican activists as people who pushed back against demonstrators for police accountability. Both of the McCloskeys spoke at the Republican National Convention, while Mark McCloskey has received a favorable reception at county Lincoln Days in the state.

But some people close to McCloskey's rivals have pointed out that he’s donated to Democratic candidates in the past, including former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan’s 2016 lieutenant governor bid. That could be why Carlson signaled at the beginning of the segment that McCloskey may have been a Democrat before the protest incident, something that McCloskey pushed back on.

“I’ve never been a Democrat,” McCloskey said. “That was the worst fake news slur that has been hurled at me over the last 10 months. I’ve always been a Republican, but I’ve never been a politician.”

Some Republicans have worried about a crowded primary field, because it may make it more likely that Greitens, who resigned amid scandal, could win. But considering that the McCloskeys are pulling from the same type of voters who may gravitate toward Greitens, it’s also possible that his entry into the race could compel more people to run — especially if Missouri adopts a runoff system for statewide elections.

Other potential GOP contenders besides McCloskey, Greitens and Schmitt include U.S. Reps. Ann Wagner, Billy Long, Jason Smith and Vicky Hartzler. State Senate President Dave Schatz and retired businessman John Brunner have also discussed running.

Among the Democrats running are former state Sen. Scott Sifton, Lucas Kunce, Spencer Toder and Tim Shepard. Former Gov. Jay Nixon, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and state Sen. Brian Williams have also been mentioned as potential candidates.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio

Since entering the world of professional journalism in 2006, Jason Rosenbaum dove head first into the world of politics, policy and even rock and roll music. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Rosenbaum spent more than four years in the Missouri State Capitol writing for the Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri Lawyers Media and the St. Louis Beacon. Since moving to St. Louis in 2010, Rosenbaum's work appeared in Missouri Lawyers Media, the St. Louis Business Journal and the Riverfront Times' music section. He also served on staff at the St. Louis Beacon as a politics reporter. Rosenbaum lives in Richmond Heights with with his wife Lauren and their two sons.