The Missouri House has given first-round approval to a bill that would require special elections to fill vacancies in statewide offices.
If passed, the bill would only allow the governor to appoint a temporary placeholder who would not be eligible to run in the special election.
Democrat Stacey Newman of St. Louis says that provision, in her opinion, is unconstitutional.
“Since 1875, the governor’s been able to appoint, regardless of when the vacancies occur, and we know that in previous administrations statewide offices have come open,” says Newman.
House Speaker Pro-tem Jason Smith, the bill’s sponsor, says it’s not a deliberate swipe at Democratic Governor Jay Nixon.
“I think it’s a good idea just to prevent the power of incumbency. There’s only been one Democrat that has showed any concern so far in a recorded vote, and that was in committee. Three Democrats did support it, including the ranking member, on the Elections Committee,” says Smith.
However, three Democrats on the Rules Committee voted against the proposal as well.
The GOP majority is moving the bill rapidly through the House in the event that Lt. Governor and fellow Republican Peter Kinder succeeds in his quest to become southeast Missouri’s newest Congressman.