Former U.S. Attorney and Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway said Tuesday that she is considering a gubernatorial run in 2016 but doesn't know when she will make a decision.
Hanaway is the first prominent Republican to publicly discuss a potential bid for the governor's office.
Though the election is three years away, Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster already has said he plans to run and has been consolidating support from within the party.
Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, is barred by term limits from seeking re-election.
"Lots of people that I respect and trust have been encouraging me to run for governor," Hanaway said. "I think their encouragement is based largely on a view I share — that this state needs to coalesce around an economic agenda that grows jobs instead of shrinking them, that builds highways, that improves schools.
"I'm considering their encouragement to run," she added.
Hanaway, 49, is an attorney at the St. Louis office of Husch Blackwell, where she leads the firm's "government compliance, investigations and litigation" group.
She first won election to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1998 to represent a suburban St. Louis district.
As minority leader, she captained the Republican takeover of the House in the 2002 elections and was subsequently chosen by colleagues as House speaker.
She served a two-year term in that role before losing her bid for secretary of state in 2004.
But Hanaway wasn't without a job long. She was appointed by President George W. Bush as U.S. Attorney for eastern Missouri in 2005.
She resigned from that office in April 2009, a few months into President Barack Obama's term.
Hanaway teamed up with former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in private legal practice in 2009. She left that firm and joined Husch Blackwell in early September.
She said that she hasn't started looking at fundraising and declined Tuesday to take positions on some of the hottest topics in the Missouri Capitol.
"If and when I do run, I'll put forth my agenda," Hanaway said.
Hanaway said she supports "reducing the tax burden on businesses and individuals" but wouldn't say whether she believes Republican lawmakers should have tried to override Nixon's veto of an income tax cut bill earlier this month. The override vote failed.
While saying she believes Missouri needs "to be very careful to protect Second Amendment rights," Hanaway declined to take a position on another unsuccessful veto override of a bill that sought to nullify some federal gun control laws and allow state misdemeanor charges against federal agents who tried to enforce them.
Hanaway said "enforcing the gun laws, particularly against violent offenders who continue to arm themselves, is a good policy."