One-time Republican turns one-time Democrat, enters governor’s race as write-in

By April Berner

Associated Press


Jefferson City, Mo. – State Sen. Chris Koster once again shocked Missouri’s political establishment by announcing he is returning to the Republican Party and will enter the race for governor as a write-in candidate.

“Friends, the past few months have been a difficult journey for me, but I stand before you today as a proud Republican,” Koster said to a gathering of supporters and reporters outside the State Capitol. “After wandering in the desert for most of the last year, I am returning home and asking Republican voters for forgiveness.”

Koster, who became a Democrat just nine months ago and after serving as a top Republican leader in the state Senate, has now brought his political affiliation full circle. But it remains unclear if Republicans will welcome home him anymore than Democrats did, especially as their candidate for Governor.

“As I surveyed the political landscape, it become obvious that I have more experience than any other candidate in the race, as well as a unique vantage having been both a Republican and a Democrat,” Koster said. “I plan to take that experience with me as Missouri’s next governor. It may not be clear what I stand for, but in the end, my willingness to sway with the political breeze will always serve me best.”

Koster said it became obvious to him in recent months that Democratic voters weren’t willing to forgive his past votes on divisive issues like Republican Governor Matt Blunt’s cuts to Medicaid and to require voter identification.

“While I absolutely stand by my votes on those issues, I was surprised that Democratic voters weren’t more flexible in their positions on their bedrock issues,” Koster said. “So, I have concluded that leaving the Democratic Party is the best way for me to carry forward my broader vision for this state and our future.”

Koster also pointed to Senator John McCain’s sudden rise in the polls as a reason for his return to the party. He said that while he believes McCain may carry Missouri, he will continue to monitor the presidential race and the political current in Missouri.

“Returning to the Democratic Party probably isn’t in the cards,” Koster said, “but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of running as an independent instead.” Koster also said he has made inquiries with representatives of both the Green and Libertarian Parties.