Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who became famous (or notorious, depending on your point of view) for displaying firearms outside of their St. Louis mansion as hundreds of rowdy demonstrators tromped through their private neighborhood on their way to protest outside the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson last summer, now have a date with the court system.
Circuit Judge David Mason has tentatively scheduled an early November trial for the pair, who face charges of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence. Mason denied a request by the McCloskey’s attorney to send the case back to a grand jury because of the political bias demonstrated by St. Louis City Attorney Kim Gardner, who was removed from prosecuting the case after she used the arrests in fundraising emails during her re-election campaign.
Demonstrators were marching to the home of then-Mayor Lyda Krewson on June 28, amid nationwide protests after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protesters ventured onto a private street that includes the McCloskey mansion. The couple, both of them attorneys in their early 60s, said they felt threatened after protesters broke down an iron gate and ignored a “No Trespassing” sign. Protest leaders denied damaging the gate and said the march was peaceful.
Mark McCloskey came out of his home with an AR-15-style rifle and Patricia McCloskey emerged with a semiautomatic handgun. Cellphone video captured the confrontation.
Gardner said the display of guns risked bloodshed. A police probable cause statement said protesters feared “being injured due to Patricia McCloskey’s finger being on the trigger, coupled with her excited demeanor.”
Schwartz’s attempt to send the case back to the grand jury to reconsider the charges was a long shot, but the trial itself isn’t going to amount to much either. Gov. Mike Parson has already vowed to pardon the couple if they’re convicted, and the Attorney General Eric Schmitt has also tried to tried to intervene in the case, arguing that the charges should be dismissed outright.
There’s virtually no chance of the McCloskeys ending up with a criminal record, in other words. But it makes for good political theater, and ironically, may even be a boon to Mark McCloskey’s political career. The trial lawyer says he’s considering running for Senate in Missouri next year, now that incumbent Republican Roy Blunt has announced his retirement.
McCloskey, a wealthy personal-injury lawyer, said that he had no timeline for making a decision about whether to enter the race for the seat from which Republican Sen. Roy Blunt is retiring. This past weekend, McCloskey spoke at a Jackson County GOP dinner, which also drew former Gov. Eric Greitens and state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, both of whom have announced their candidacies.
… GOP Rep. Jason Smith has also been mentioned as a potential candidate for the seat, as has GOP Rep. Billy Long, both of whom will be appearing at separate fundraising events next week at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida. The list of Democratic contenders includes former state Sen. Scott Sifton and attorney Lucas Kunce.
Given the already crowded field for the open Senate seat, McCloskey’s name recognition would likely give him a leg up in the GOP primary, though a highly publicized trial a year before the election wouldn’t ordinarily be the type of free press that a candidate would embrace. In McCloskey’s case, however, the trial could easily boost his chances, as long as he or prosecutors don’t destroy his own credibility.
We should see how serious McCloskey is about a Senate campaign long before his trial, however. He’s going to need to start raising some campaign cash soon, and I don’t think he can wait until his criminal case is resolved before he officially announces his candidacy. I’m sure Democrats would love to run against McCloskey in the general election, but given the solid-red status of Missouri’s political system, I suspect that any candidate they put up against the GOP is going to be facing some stiff hurdles to win election.
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