For several weeks, The Missouri Times has asked readers and friends who they thought should be featured in the best senate of the past 25 years – a fantasy team, if you will. Over 60 senators were submitted. After visiting with longtime observers of the chamber we came up with our list of 34 of its finest lawmakers in the last 25 years. It’s an eclectic list featuring men and women from the pre- and post term limit eras, and a combination of 34 Senators that no Speaker or Governor would envy having to battle.
Current senators were not eligible for the list. And because we couldn’t begin to put these folks in any numerical order, we will be releasing the list alphabetically over the next five days. The official senate portraits are included.
He was one of the most personally popular senators in the history of the senate. He was the last floor leader before the party switch, and he had one of the most visited offices in the senate because of his warm personality.
He is a gentleman’s senator who was at home in the body. He sometimes doesn’t get the respect he deserves, but many feel there are 3,000 people working at the Claycomo plant because of his ability to lead the senate in a troubling time. He was known for being fair with people and patient with the minority, and was known for running one of the best floors in the post term limits senate.
He had the perfect temperament for serving in the senate. He was universally respected and was never afraid to let someone else get the credit, but he worked behind the scenes among a lot of big egos and passed some major reform legislation through the senate. Gibbons is still known as one of the premier statesmen in the body.
Some say he epitomizes the best of the Missouri Senate. He was a solution looking for a problem. He served as Pro Tem and loved to make a deal. He inserted himself into most issues and everyone had to deal with him, but many found him to be fair and a good person to deal with.
He was a senate leader and was liked by everybody. He was one guy who could always work something out between sides, which made him popular and effective. Moreover, he was a believer in a non-partisan senate. This is one person who you will never hear anyone say a bad word about.
Half of the only father-son duo on the list, he inherited from his father a love for the traditions of the senate and being someone who could work with anyone in the body. A great example is that after being appointed by Governor Nixon to lead the Department of Labor, he received a standing ovation from both chambers, both houses with super majorities of Republicans at the state of the state address.
John T. Russell
He took over as budget chair after serving over 40 years in the legislature. He worked closely with Senator Goode and seemed to always get his way. He is known as a bedrock of the Republican Party during their time in the minority.
Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.