Missouri Speaker of the House Tim Jones, R-Eureka

Ending weeks of speculation, Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones announced Friday afternoon  he would not enter the race for the 26th District State Senate Seat.

He issued a press release signaling his intention to run for a state-wide office in 2016. Although he didn't identify the office, it is widely believed to be Attorney General.

Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, filed for the Senate seat on the opening day of filing. Local Republicans say Jones backed out of the race after Schatz garnered a lot of early support in both Franklin and St. Louis counties. Schatz issued a pledge indicating he would fulfill all four years of the term if elected and challenged other candidates to do the same.

Jones endorsed Schatz in the release.

"I feel that the best course forward is not to enter the race, as doing so would greatly distract from the important work before me. Instead, I will continue to focus on serving this year as Speaker of the House, passing the conservative legislation that Missouri needs, standing up for our constitutional rights and working to have our voice heard in what could be another historic veto session.

After this important responsibility is completed, I will focus on preparing for a statewide campaign for 2016.

Dave Schatz is a good man and has been a reliable and hard working caucus member. I wish him all the best as he pursues a new goal in public service."