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Mo. House passes special elections bill

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Missouri State Capitol.

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri House has passed a bill that would mandate special elections for statewide officeholders if their office becomes vacant before their term ends.

Under current law, the governor would appoint someone to fill a vacant statewide office.

GOP house members argued for the bill, saying a special election would shield Missouri from the type of political corruption that's plagued neighboring state Illinois.

Democrats, including Jeanette Mott Oxford of St. Louis, suspect the real motivation may lie within Missouri's U.S. Senate race next year.

"A lot of floor time was spent making (the) case that this is just a political ploy to make sure that Nixon can't name a successor to Robin Carnahan, who's apt to win that race," Oxford said.

House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley (R, Perryville) disagrees.

"When you have that appointment process, it does potentially set up a problem...obviously, it was a big problem for Illinois, (as) they just impeached a governor over it...if you have an opening for a statewide office, it's important enough to let the people of this state determine who's going to represent them on a statewide level," Tilley said.

Carnahan is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Republican Congressman Roy Blunt has announced his plans to run as well.

If the bill becomes law, special elections would be held to fill vacancies for the offices of Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and U.S. Senator.

It now goes to the Missouri Senate.

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