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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Republicans want special election for House seat

  • Republicans in a local legislative district that have been without representation in the Missouri House of Representatives since June are asking Missouri's governor to call a special election to fill the seat.
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  • Republicans in a local legislative district that have been without representation in the Missouri House of Representatives since June are asking Missouri's governor to call a special election to fill the seat.
    Members of the Republican Committee for the 120th Legislative District, which covers eastern Phelps County, including the City of St. James, and almost all of Crawford County, signed a letter asking Gov. Jay Nixon to call a special election to fill the seat in April 2014.
    "Won't you please consider abbreviating our lack of representation in the Missouri House, and issue this writ of election for us? ... An April election appears to us to be feasible and desirable," the letter states.
    Pam Grow, chairwoman of the 120th Legislative District Republican Committee, delivered the letter to Nixon's office Thursday at the Capitol.
    Phelps County Republicans also were expected Thursday night to discuss what to do about filling the 120th District state legislative post at the central committee's monthly meeting.
    "There has to be an election, and the governor decides when that will be," said Bob May, of the county GOP central committee. "He could wait until the next general election. It has happened before."
    Smith resigned from the 120th District seat to take the Eighth District U.S. representative seat he won in a special election in June to complete the term of Rep. Jo Ann Emerson. He has indicated he will run for re-election to the U.S. Congress in November 2014.
    Smith ran unopposed in November 2012 for the two-year state legislative term.
    The letter, signed by Grow, Gene DeLuca, vice chair; Laura Hausladen, secretary; and Bill Thomas, treasurer, states that there are more than 35,000 people living in the 120th District.
    "We have been without a state representative for nearly five months now ... Governor Nixon, this is a grievance the people of this district have: we have no voice and we have no representation ― in short, we are disenfranchised," the letter states.
    Grow, in an email to the Rolla Daily News, wrote, "If the governor does not issue a writ of election, it will be inauguration day in January 2015 before we have a representative. If we have a special election on, say, April 8, 2014, we will have representation some nine months sooner."
    By waiting to fill the vacancy in the August 2014 primary or November 2014 general elections, it would delay representation in the state House, according to the letter.
    The 2014 legislative session begins in January and runs through May.
    "Some important weeks in the regular legislative session would remain, and the people would have a voice in the Missouri House to represent them, just as other citizens in the state currently enjoy," the letter states.
    The Missouri Constitution states in Article III, Section 14, that "Writs of election to fill vacancies in either house of the general assembly shall be issued by the governor."
    Page 2 of 2 - But the state's constitution doesn't require the governor to do so within any particular time. Governors often schedule special elections to coincide with regular election dates to save money.
    Nixon spokesman Scott Holste cited the traditional practice of timing special elections with other races or ballot issues while confirming in an email Thursday that no special election has been set yet for Smith's former seat.
    House Republicans currently hold a 109-53 majority over Democrats with one vacancy. That means Republicans have the bare minimum number of seats necessary to attain the two-thirds majority needed to override gubernatorial vetoes without needing any votes from Democrats.
    The district typically leans toward Republicans. Republican Shawn Sisco and Democrat Bob Smith, of St. James, have both publically expressed interest in the seat.
    R.D. Hohenfeldt and the Associated Press both contributed to this story.
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