Just a couple of minor notes about a couple of legislative elections this year.
Speaker of the House Ron Richard of Joplin will become the first Speaker to move on to the Senate since Richard Webster was elected in 1962. But Richard’s election, which is guaranteed because he has no Democrat opposition in November, is even more unusual. He is going straight from the House to the Senate. Webster served as the Speaker in 1954, the last Republican Speaker until Catherine Hanaway in 2003, eight years before he moved to the Senate. He had given up his House seat to run unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor.
Richard is not the first Speaker of the House to move over to the Senate. But it appears from our quick check of legislative records that he will be the first one to do it in 90 years. The last former Speaker to become a state senator was James H. Whitecotton of Monroe County who served in the House from 1897 through 1908. He was the Speaker for the 1901 and 1905 sessions, then served in the state Senate 1921-1930.
John W. Farris reversed the process. He was a Representative from Lincoln County in 1897-98 and served as Speaker in his only term in the chamber, , a distinction he might have earned by serving in the Senate 1883-1886. One man in November’s election has a chance to go from being a Senator to being Speaker of the House although it’s not likely he’ll do it in his first term as Farris did. That’s former Senator John Cauthorn of Mexico who is running for the House against Kelly Schultz, a Democrat. If Cauthorn wins he will become the first former Senator to be elected to the lower chamber since term limits went into effect.
As we look farther and farther back in legislative history we find other men who served in the Senate who later became Speakers of the House. J. Edwin Belch of Cole County did it in 1897, for example. In all, eleven men who have been Speakers of the Missouri House have served in the state senate before or after their House service. No Speaker has ever served as President pro Tem of the Senate.
Just thought you’d like to know.