The Chairman of Missouri’s Republican Party has said he’s not stepping down, and that he is ready to move on from the controversy that has surrounded him since the death of Auditor Tom Schweich.
John Hancock has been accused of having been part of a whispering campaign saying Schweich was Jewish, that Schweich believed was intended to hurt his race for governor and that allegedly contributed Schweich taking his own life.
Hancock says that has been disproven.
“We now have a police report that says there was no whisper campaign,” Hancock told Missourinet. “Nobody has come forward … if there’s a whisper campaign, you’re going to have dozens of people out there that were whispered to. By definition, that’s a whisper campaign. There clearly was no whisper campaign.”
Hancock says he’s tired of talking about the controversy.
“I’m ready to move on and move beyond it and get to work,” Hancock said.
Not preparing to step down
Hancock made statements last week during an interview on KMOX radio in St. Louis that some believed hinted he was leaning towards stepping down, as some have called for him to do. He told Missourinet the “soul searching” he said he had to do was to consider whether he could be an effective leader for the party.
“I have taken into account all that has happened and all that lies in front of us, and as long as I can do this job and do it well, and lead this party well, I intend to keep doing it,” said Hancock. “The only thing at this point that would cause me to step down is if I came to the conclusion that the Republican party in Missouri would be better off without me, and I just don’t think we’re there yet.”
He also said his reputation has been damaged in the past month, and he had to consider that.
“I’ve got to be in a position to where I can still support my family, and that was a principal concern. I’m feeling better about that possibility now, and I’m feeling better about the party moving forward and I think most people are ready to put this sad chapter behind us,” said Hancock.
Hancock said fundraising for the party has been strong, and he sees that as a sign that he has support from Republicans and the controversy is subsiding.
See Hancock’s statements regarding fundraising:
“We have raised enough in commitments already to eradicate the debt that had been in place and then add some more money in. We’re waiting on the checks to roll in now,” said Hancock. “We have raised north of $100,000 in the last four weeks, and really, there was a couple of those weeks where we really weren’t able to do much, so I’m very gratified with the response of our donors.”
“I always believed that once the truth came out, and I believed the truth would come out … that we would be fine to move forward. Well, the truth is starting to come out,” said Hancock. “The police department has said what they have said, the facts that have been presented don’t support a whisper campaign.”
What can be learned from past month about religion, ethnicity in Missouri politics?
Hancock has said that he might have mistakenly said Schweich was Jewish because he thought that was true, though he denies ever saying it to hurt Schweich politically or with a bigoted connotation. He said his belief that Schweich was Jewish was an assumption on his part, and one he calls, “stupid.”
“I need to be a lot more careful about making assumptions about people. I can assure you I have learned that less through this process,” said Hancock when asked what can be learned from the past month about the role of religion or ethnicity in politics. “Number two, I think we need to get to know our candidates and need to get to know them well. We need to know what their core convictions are, where those come from, how they’re able to articulate those.”
“Out of this tragedy, if it results in us maybe being a little bit more careful and a little bit more thoughtful in the way that we do politics, then that will be a small blessing to come out of this horrible event,” said Hancock.
What to do about attack ads in campaigns?
Asked whether he has changed his focus in campaigning, in light of criticism directed at an ad not connected to Hancock that compared Schweich’s appearance to the television character Barney Fife and said he was easily manipulated and could be squashed like a bug, Hancock says he hasn’t because he already doesn’t condone such tactics.
“I never supported these personally destructive kinds of campaigns. I don’t think there is any place for them,” said Hancock. “I don’t think they work. I don’t think the voters buy them. I think the voters are disgusted by them … I’ve never been supportive of that. I’m supportive of contrast, pointing out differences between two competing visions. That’s an essential and vital part of public discourse in this country.”