History-making elections II: Getting It Right

I’ve been taking time away from the Missourinet newsroom to go through the final edits of a book due out next March (it’s hard to type with crossed fingers) about all of the great art work at the Missouri Capitol. I’ve been working with a great editor who has the eyes of an eagle and she will keep me going back to my research notes for the next couple of days correcting quotes or clarifying facts.

There are unofficial editors for these blogposts. Two state government PR guys, Marc Powers and Ted Farnen, have suggested the post about people moving from the House to the Senate and from the Senate to the House could have been written better and somewhat more accurately than the original version. These eagle-eyed and agile-minded “editors” have helped make sure the record is clear. They also confirm that SOMEBODY reads these blogs, for which we are grateful most of the time.

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.
Although Richard is not the first Speaker of the House to move over to the Senate, it appears from our quick check of legislative records that he will be only the third one to do it in 90 years. The last former Speaker to become a state senator before Webster did it 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.

Two men in November’s election have a chance to go from being a Senator to being Speaker of the House although it’s not likely either will do it in his first term as Farris did. That’s former Senators John Cauthorn of Mexico and Glen Kllippenstein of Maysville. Cauthorn is running for the House against Kelly Schultz, a Democrat. Klippenstein is running against Judy Wright, a Democrat, and Constitution Party candidate Gary Murray. If Cauthorn and Klippenstein win, they will become the second and third Senators to be elected to the lower chamber since term limits went into effect. Bob Johnson of Lee’s Summit was the first. Cauthorn would be the first person forced out of the Senate by term limits to be elected to the House. Klippinstein served only a brief term in the Senate and could try to return there some day. So could Johnson, for that matter.

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

Or not.

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