JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Senate Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, the highest-ranking state senator in Missouri, is resigning his seat to being a new career in the private sector and spend more time with his family, he announced today.
Dempsey, a St. Charles Republican, has spent 15 years in state government. He spent six years in the House before winning his senate seat in a 2007 special election. Dempsey is also vice president of First National Bank of St. Louis and his family has owned a restaurant in St. Charles for more than 50 years.
“It’s been an honor to serve the citizens of Missouri for 15 years,” Dempsey said. “But I put my family first, and I’m excited for this new chapter in my life.”
Dempsey’s departure marks yet another departure from state politics that will resonate deeply within the Missouri political world following the resignations of House Speaker John Diehl, a Republican, and state senator Paul LeVota, a Democrat, following accusations of inappropriate relationships with capitol interns.
But Dempsey leaves as one of the most respect lawmakers of the term-limits era, well liked on both sides of the aisle, the St. Charles native has cultivated a reputation as a pragmatic dealmaker. In the wake of his resignation, Republicans in the senate will be tasked with electing one of their one members to succeed Dempsey. The likely frontrunner is Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin, who has long been heir-apparent to Dempsey. But regardless of the outcome, Richard is unlikely to be uncontested.
Dempsey, 48, will also be stepping down from his bank job to pursue his new job, which he said he’d speak about in more detail in the coming days and weeks. Dempsey’s resignation will be official as of August 7.
The resignation also complicated the race to succeed Dempsey, who would have been term limited next year. Three Republican candidates have already announced and if Gov. Jay Nixon calls for a special election, it’ll be up to the local St. Charles Republican committee to decide who to nominate for the strong Republican seat.
This story will be updated.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.