Tom Schweich, the leading candidate for governor of Missouri, is dead after an apparent suicide. The state auditor was found dead in his home on Thursday in what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a police source told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His wife was in another room when she heard him making phone calls followed by a single gunshot. Before confirming his death, his office said Schweich had been taken to the hospital for a "medical situation," but did not disclose the apparent suicide. He was 54 years old. He had announced just a month ago that he was seeking the Republican nomination for the 2015 gubernatorial election.
Hours earlier, Schwiech had requested an interview with reporters from the Post-Dispatch and AP to address claims allegedly made by Missouri Republican Party chairman John Hancock that he was Jewish. Schweich was Episcopalian, but open acknowledged that his grandfather was Jewish and was proud of his connection to the faith. Post-Dispatch editorial page editor Tony Messenger said Schweich had exchanged several texts and emails in the past few days expressing concern that Hancock was telling people he was Jewish while working for a rival candidate. "Mr. Schweich said that over the past few months he had heard from campaign donors that while political consultant John Hancock was doing work for gubernatorial candidate Catherine Hanaway, he would mention in passing that Mr. Schweich was Jewish. Mr. Schweich, who says he is an Episcopalian, said he believed the mentions of his faith heritage were intended to harm him politically in a gubernatorial primary in which many Republican voters are evangelical Christians," Messenger said in a statement. Hancock admitted to the Post-Dispatch that he may have told someone last year that Schweich was Jewish, "but I certainly would not have said it in a derogatory manner." He added, "No one has ever accused me of bigotry in any shape, manner or form."