What’s Next for the LeVota Seat
It’s hard to stay classy when you’re being run out of town, but Sen. Paul LeVota’s exit confirmed his critics’ feelings.
First, his resignation letter repeated his claims of innocence with no hint of remorse. Even though the same day the University of Central Missouri’s title IX report concluded that the “preponderance of evidence substantiates the investigator’s finding that the senator made unwelcome sexual advances…” (See the report posted on Eli Yokley’s website.)
Then came word that LeVota fired his chief of staff, Ron Berry, whose name had been unfairly floated in the press as a diversionary tactic when the story first broke. Berry presumably told the investigator the truth which was viewed as an act of insubordination.
As talk has begun about gaming out LeVota’s replacement in Senate 11, it’s been noted that LeVota retains influence on the legislative committee which would pick the Democratic nominee in a special election.
Some folks think that the governor’s office – not the biggest fan of LeVota – will take a look at that and decide to let the seat remain vacant until the regular August primary in 2016.
However there are broader calculations concerning whether to call a special or not. See below.
Possible Dems mentioned: Rep. John Rizzo would have to move but his name was mentioned when the InternGate II rumors first broke; Eileen Weir the mayor of Independence; Cindy Circo; and Theresa Garza Ruiz.
Republicans might see if they can’t use the scandal to pick up a seat they wouldn’t otherwise have. One observer mentioned Rep. Bill Kidd as someone who would take a free pass shot if it’s a special, and another mentioned former Rep. Noel Torpey who was able to win a heavy House districts repeatedly as a Republican. Last year Torpey vacated that seat, House 29, to become head of FERAF. The governor has not called a special yet for that seat, by the way.
Parson to LG
Sen. Mike Parson announced he was departing the governor’s race and will instead pursue the lieutenant governor’s seat.
Parson is considered the favorite, but it’s not a slam-duck. His opponent, Bev Randles, will presumably be over-funded by her patron Rex Sinquefield. And as previously discussed when Parson entered the gov race, there are plenty of lines of attack on Parson based on his voting record.
He was an advocate for the transportation funding tax (aka largest tax increase in Missouri’s history), for the bonding issue (aka debt increase), and voted against the ethics reform bill.
Parson is said to not have been moved out of the gubernatorial race by the entrance of Sen. Bob Dixon who many considered to be a competitor for out-state vote. Rather it was Peter Kinder’s candidacy which changed the calculus. Kinder’s strength in southeast Missouri would have put those votes out of reach.
Still, LG has been derided as a do-nothing, stepping-stone positions. Why would a 60-something politician pursue that office instead of roll the dice on a position of true power like the governor’s mansion?
The answer is that Parson believes that the LG office has the potential to be a much more meaningful office – given a different governor. Parson thinks that a Governor Kinder would be open to a more muscular LG’s office – and so would a Governor Koster. The thinking on Koster is that the Democrat might want a “partner” of the opposite party to offer cover, and would work to forge a team approach.
The new game is called “What up with Caleb Jones?” His name has been mentioned as a strong LG candidate also. But does he jump into this primary now? Is he still mulling a Senate 19 bid? Does he take his time and trust that fate will open an opportunity down the road?
Rumorville: Dempsey to Abdicate?
It’s the latest crazy rumor, so who knows, but one rumor making the rounds, is that Sen. Tom Dempsey will resign from his seat early.
If true, this would create another vacancy, and could completely rearrange the brewing Senate 23 primary. The conventional wisdom is that Rep. Anne Zerr would have best chance of scoring the committee nomination – in a special election – and it would let her run as an incumbent in 2016.
To Special or Not to Special?
There are now two House vacancies – House 29 (old Torpey) and House 89 (old Diehl) – and one soon to be Senate vacancy – Senate 11 (LeVota said his resignation is effective next month), with this rumor of a potential second Senate vacancy.
The good government types think that the governor should call special elections regardless of political considerations because people deserve representation.
However political considerations cannot be ignored. And the largest factor on the table is the governor’s ability to sustain his vetoes.
Both House vacancies were Republican (though Dems should be able to win House 29 back without super-candidate Torpey on the ground). And the second Senate vacancy – if it comes true – would be Republican.
Icing those Republican votes for next summer’s veto session are a pretty powerful incentive for gubernatorial inaction.
But of course, we’ll see…
From Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:
Rep. Robert Cornejo Golf – Old Hickory Golf Course – St. Peters.
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed Reception – Harry’s Restaurant & Bar – STL – 6-8PM.
Cynthia Gamble, Bill Gamble, Jeff Brooks, Jorgen Schlemeier, and Sarah Topp deleted Engagepoint Inc.
Missourians for John Brunner - $35,000 from Auguts A Busch III.
Citizens for Mary Pat Carl - $5,001 from Daniel Benninger.
UAW Region 5 Midwest Political Action Committee - $6,000 from UAW Region 5 Exchange Account.
Reinvest STL - $10,000 from Enterprise Holdings Inc. Political Action Committee.
Happy birthdays to Congressman Lacy Clay, Shanon Hawk, Crystal Brinkley, and former Rep. Jim Avery (44).