Missouri's political world was stunned today with the news that Tom Schweich, the state auditor and a Republican candidate for governor, was dead from what police are calling a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The 54-year-old apparently shot himself in his own home this morning, just minutes after calling reporters from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press to arrange interviews for later in the day. Schweich wanted to talk about his suspicions that a political opponent was spreading false information about him, reports the St. Louis newspaper. Schweich believed state GOP chief John Hancock was telling people Schweich was Jewish to hurt him politically in the upcoming primary with evangelical Christian voters.
Schweich wasn't Jewish, but his grandfather was, and he had called himself "very proud of his connection to the Jewish faith." Hancock says he might have told someone Schweich was Jewish because he thought he was, "but I certainly would not have said it in a derogatory manner." He tells the Post-Dispatch that Schweich had accused him of making "anti-Semitic remarks and I told him it was not true." The governor's race was already a nasty one. A new radio ad compared Schweich to the hapless Barney Fife of the fictional town of Mayberry, adding, "Once Schweich obtains the Republican nomination, we will quickly squash him like a bug that he is," reports Fox2Now. (Read more Missouri stories.)