State Rep. Casey Guernsey announced Friday morning that he has decided not to pursue the Missouri Senate 12th District seat in this year’s election. Nor will he seek re-election for his House seat.
The 33-year-old Mr. Guernsey — a Bethany Republican serving a third term representing the Missouri House Second District — told the News-Press that he reached the decision this week.
“It’s been a blast. I really love it,” he said of his service to the district, which includes portions of Harrison, DeKalb, Daviess and Gentry counties. “This is going to be an enormous shock to a lot of people,” he said, yet adding that constituents will understand his motivation.
“I’ve really sat down, taken some time and prayed about this. I love public service. (But) it takes more than 100 percent of your time. I feel more at peace taking this direction. I feel like I’ve had a successful run in the legislature. I don’t have any regrets. It’s beyond a full-time job.”
Mr. Guernsey said his choice involved a preference to move into another phase of life, noting that time and duties spent serving constituents in the district and Jefferson City often keeps him from home. Yet he intends to remain politically active.
A former aide to Congressman Sam Graves, the state lawmaker did not rule out a return to politics, citing a remaining 10 years that he has eligible to serve in the General Assembly.
“I’ll take a look at it again probably in the future,” Mr. Guernsey said. “I’ve always been open to any opportunity that’s been open to me.”
He declined to mention any potential candidates he’d support for the Senate seat, but did note his support for Jay Eggleston for the Missouri House 2nd District seat. He expressed a preference for the seats to remain in Republican control, but is against the career politician motif.
“Conservative solutions are ones that have to be advocated for,” Mr. Guernsey said. “I think there are a number of qualified candidates out there. I’m a firm believer in term limits.”
The remainder of his time in the House will be devoted to shepherding legislation on behalf of Missouri’s dwindling dairy industry, even with the recently passed Farm Bill that enhances the protection of producers who face lean years.
“Like every federal program, it’s not enough,” he said.
Among his other priorities, he also plans to continue working for farmers through his membership on several agriculture-related committees.
“We’ve got to work on tax cuts and tax reform,” Mr. Guernsey added.
Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah, currently represents the Senate’s 12th District and will leave office at the end of the year due to term limits.
“The best elected officials are those that understand they are going back to the private sector,” Mr. Lager said.
Ed Martin, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, praised Mr. Guernsey’s decision.
“He’s not running for the same right reasons” as would be the case in choosing to enter politics, he said. “Casey’s been a great state representative, widely respected and liked. Everybody says he was an automatic lock for that Senate seat. He’s a normal guy that wants to get back to a normal life.”
Mr. Graves issued the following statement late Friday afternoon:
“Casey has been a great public servant for Northwest Missouri, both in the House and on my staff. He has been a firm advocate for Northwest Missouri, particularly (for) our farmers and ranchers. He has accomplished an awful lot in a short period of time, and still has a very bright future ahead of him.”
Ray Scherer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.