Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

GOP Icon Slams Anti-Semitic ‘Whisper Campaign’ Against Missouri Candidate Who Committed Suicide

Former U.S. Senator John Danforth chastised Missouri state political leaders for using anti-Semitism as campaign tactic, which he said led to the suicide of a gubernatorial candidate.

Danforth, a dean of Missouri’s Republican Party, spoke Tuesday at the memorial service in Clayton, Mo. for Tom Schweich, a Republican candidate for governor of Missouri.

Schweich, the state auditor, apparently killed himself shortly after telling journalists that a fellow party member was leading a whisper campaign saying he was Jewish. Schweich, who attended an Episcopal church, reportedly had a Jewish grandfather.

Schweich was pronounced dead at a hospital from a single gunshot after paramedics responded on Feb. 26 to an emergency call made from Schweich’s home in a suburb of St. Louis.

Scheweich had said that John Hancock, the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, was spreading rumors that Schweich was Jewish. Schweich had told a reporter that Hancock was trying to hurt his chances in the primary with evangelical Christian voters.

“Tom called this anti-Semitism, and of course it was,” Danforth said during the eulogy on Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. “The only reason for going around saying that someone is Jewish is to make political profit from religious bigotry.”

“The death of Tom Schweich is the natural consequence of what politics has become,” Danforth said. “I believe deep in my heart that it’s now our duty, yours and mine, to turn politics into something much better than its now so miserable state.”

Danforth also said of the campaign: “(W)hat has been said is worse than anything in my memory, and that’s a long memory. I have never experienced an anti-Semitic campaign. Anti-Semitism is always wrong, and we can never let it creep into politics.”

Hancock said in interviews in the wake of the suicide that he mistakenly thought that Schweich was Jewish, and may have told others, but not in a derogatory way. Hancock did not attend the funeral.

Schweich had contacted the Anti-Defamation League about his allegations, the Post-Dispatch reported.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.