(AP) — Missouri Republicans overwhelmingly elected Chesterfield consultant John Hancock on Saturday to lead the party as the GOP gears up to fight for U.S. Senate and House seats, the governorship and other statewide offices in 2016.
Hancock, who won handily despite competition from two other candidates, will take over a financially struggling party facing a primary battle for Missouri governor.
Fifty members of the Missouri Republican State Committee voted in favor of Hancock during the annual Reagan Lincoln Days conference. Nick Myers, chairman of the Newton County Republicans, won 11 votes. Seven voted for eighth congressional district Republican chairman Eddy Justice.
The 50-year-old Hancock replaces Ed Martin, who announced plans earlier this month to serve as president of the conservative interest group Eagle Forum.
Hancock has raised concerns about the party’s finances and has described them as a disaster. Treasurer Richard Peerson said with expenses from Lincoln Days the party has negative cash on hand, dipping down $77,189 in debt following expenses from the conference.
“There is much that needs to be done to fix our party and move us forward in a healthy direction,” Hancock said to committee members. “Leadership means identifying a problem and then standing up and being willing to take on the challenges.”
Hancock also stressed party unity as members begin primary battles for the Missouri governor, emphasizing cutting down on Republican in-fighting.