McCulloch isn't hesitant to endorse others, but has no plans for higher office himself
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch has been in this position before – taking a stand in a combative Democratic primary, when most of his party wanted to stay out of the line of political fire.
St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch speaks at Councilman Steve Stenger's kick-off event for county executive.
In 2004, McCulloch endorsed then-state Auditor Claire McCaskill for governor over the fellow Democrat holding the office, Bob Holden, in a bitter Democratic contest.
In 2008, McCulloch waded into a particularly nasty three-way Democratic primary for attorney general, endorsing Chris Koster, who had switched parties only a year earlier.
Both of those candidates won their primary contests (McCaskill lost the general election), among the reasons Democrats are paying attention to McCulloch’s decision this week to support County Councilman Steve Stenger’s bid to oust County Executive Charlie Dooley in next summer’s Democratic primary.
McCulloch already had attracted headlines a week earlier, when he went public, and in detail, with his decision to break from Dooley.
A key reason for all the attention – McCulloch rarely goes public for any reason.
Bob McCulloch has been in office since 1991 and has captured few headlines unless the topic is a high-profile crime or conviction. He hasn’t been hit with any major office scandals.
As a result, McCulloch has been beset with Democratic requests to run for higher office ever since County Executive George R. “Buzz’’ Westfall died unexpectedly in 2003. So far, McCulloch has turned all of them down.
McCulloch notes that he said 25 years ago that he never wanted to be St. Louis county executive – and emphasized in an interview that his stance still stands.
Now 61, McCulloch said he has no desire to hold any other office than the one he now holds. “I guess I have no ambition,’’ he said drily.
Although acknowledging that there’s always a chance he might change his mind, McCulloch adds that he doubts it.
But while declining to run for higher office himself, McCulloch says he won’t hesitate to endorse others who he believes could and should win election. “I’ve never been reluctant to get involved in primaries,’’ McCulloch said, adding that he was well aware that he was out of step with most other major Democrats.
McCulloch emphasized that his decision to break with Dooley and side with Stenger wasn’t an easy one. It came amid concern over a series of controversies plaguing Dooley’s administration and the fact that “there were no firings and no one was disciplined.”
McCulloch said he’s willing to help Stenger in any capacity, as the county executive contest heats up over the next 10 months.
Such assistance is particularly noteworthy since McCulloch plans to be on the ballot next year as well. He’s “absolutely’’ running for re-election, seeking a seventh four-year term.
For his last re-election bid In 2010, in what was generally a huge Republican year, McCulloch didn’t have to campaign much. He didn’t have a Republican opponent.
So far, he has no declared challengers for 2014.