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Parson not planning to grant Ashcroft’s request for special elections at this time

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson does not plan to grant Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s request for special elections to fill the six House vacancies at this time. 

Ashcroft, on the opening day of the legislative session, sent a letter to the governor asking him to issue writs of election to fill the Republican vacancies. Without those six seats, House Republicans do not have a supermajority. 

Parson said this is the first time the secretary of state has made such a request. A spokesperson for Ashcroft confirmed his Wednesday request was the first. 

“We’ve had different scenarios before, and I’ve never received a letter from the secretary of state. We’ve had Democrat openings before, and I’ve never received a letter so I’m not sure what that was all about,” Parson said in an interview. “The General Assembly, that’s the legislative branch’s job to do that, and there’s been no requests from their side of it.” 

The governor also noted redistricting was still ongoing, and those district lines have not yet been drawn and confirmed. 

“I think there’s a lot of moving parts than just saying call a special election,” Parson said. 

With the resignations of Reps. Aaron Griesheimer and Justin Hill Wednesday, the House has six vacant seats. The other seats have been emptied because Wayne Wallingford left to become the new Department of Revenue director, Becky Ruth resigned to lead the Office of Child Advocate, Tom Hannegan passed away last year, and Rick Roeber was expelled from the House after an Ethics report said he abused his children. 

Ashcroft said if Parson issued writs of election by Jan. 10, special elections could be held during the April 5 municipal elections with “minimal cost to the taxpayer, but substantial benefit to Missourians.” Without an election, the seats would remain empty for another year, Ashcroft said. 

“Residents in the affected districts will be represented only by their state senator as lawmakers take crucial votes on spending, abortion, and congressional redistricting,” Ashcroft, a Republican, said in his letter to the governor. 

“As a state, it is critical that we take the appropriate steps to ensure that all Missourians are fairly, justly, and equitably represented at all levels of government,” he continued. “By calling a special election, these vacant seats can be filled and the constituents of these districts can again have full representation in the Missouri General Assembly.”