JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s upper chamber is primed for the inevitable change in leadership, and The Missouri Times has already highlighted the fact that two junior senators (Sen. Caleb Rowden and Sen. Denny Hoskins) are vying for the position of majority floor leader.
But that does not mean they are the only two in the race. Sen. Gary Romine is also eyeing the position, and as the senior member in the race, Romine is touting his experience as the best qualification to being the senator to replace now-Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe.
In June, Romine announced his intent among his colleagues to run for the spot, instead of running for President Pro Tem.
“The Majority Floor Leader must be an experienced negotiator, have a strong work ethic, and have relationships across the aisle to move our agenda forward,” he wrote. “I possess these skills.”
“I have a lot of life experience that will be helpful to me. I am a business owner, managing 20 stores and I have also been involved in the legislative process for nearly 30 years,” he continued. “Also, I have proven that I can work with senators from both sides of the aisle.”
Romine said that he has been involved in several key pieces of legislation over the years, from employment issues, the state board of education to workforce development and he hopes now to use that experience in “helping run the floor to accomplish every more.”
“I don’t believe anybody thought we could pass as strong of a tort reform piece as SB 43,” Romine stated in his letter. “My office put in more than 1,000 hours on the bill, but in the end, it took negotiating with our Democrat colleagues to get the bill passed.”
When asked if he would still attempt to carry such large bills if chosen as floor leader, Romine responded that it’s about the approach when it comes to running the floor.
“You have to step aside from any bias and be a traffic director,” he said. “I will handle as few bills as possible.”
One area of contention each session is the question of if or when the PQ should be used, to which Romine said he believed it was something that shouldn’t be used unless it must.
“I believe it is something that we shouldn’t use,” he said. “I believe that as long as senators are negotiating in good faith and working toward a resolution then the Floor Leader should allow them to continue working on it. I don’t believe that the Senate should use the PQ except under the rarest circumstances.”
Romine says he believes he is in the best position to work with whoever wins the President Pro Tem race.
“I have the relationships with not only our caucus but with the Democrats to move legislation toward a resolution through negotiating. I think a key for a Floor Leader is to get involved and make sure the engaged parties are moving toward a resolution.”
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.