JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley dropped out of the 2012 lieutenant governor's race Thursday, citing a desire to spend more time with his two daughters.
Tilley, a Republican from Perryville, had raised more than $1.5 million for the race and had no announced opposition within his political party. But Tilley has gone through some personal struggles. He and his wife, Kellie, filed for divorce in September after 18 years of marriage.
"As speaker, I have given up weekends and traveled night after night meeting around the state fulfilling my duties," Tilley said Thursday. "Running statewide would require me to spend even a greater amount of time apart from my daughters, something I am just not willing to do."
Tilley's exit sets off a Republican scramble to find a replacement. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has said he will not run for re-election and is instead expected to seek the Republican nomination for governor.
Two Democrats have said they plan to run for lieutenant governor — state Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Montee and state conservation commissioner Becky Plattner.
With his sizable campaign account, Tilley had been a frontrunner in the lieutenant governor's race. He changed his fundraising committee to focus on the lieutenant governor's race last December, and Tilley had officially declared his candidacy in July. At the time, Tilley said his campaign would focus on job creation, education, seniors, veterans and government accountability, and he touted the relationships he has forged with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
In Missouri, the lieutenant governor not only is next in line to succeed the governor but also serves as the presiding officer of the Senate, is a member of state boards that awards tax breaks for developments and is the state's official advocate for senior citizens.
Although no longer running for lieutenant governor, Tilley said he will remain as House speaker and serve out the remainder of this legislative term, which ends in January 2013.