JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Senate Republicans will likely formally elect Joplin state Sen. Ron Richard as their President Pro Tem tomorrow following his formal nomination tonight, making him the first person to ever hold the positions of both Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem of the Senate.
Richard succeeds Tom Dempsey, the former Pro Tem who abruptly announced his resignation earlier this summer, citing a desire to spend more time at home. Dempsey soon took a position as a lobbyist with Gate Way Group. Richard has served for the last few years as Majority Floor Leader, the No. 2 position behind Dempsey.
Richard’s ascension comes as the Republican has spent several years publicly clashing with senate Democrats on the use of the “previous question” motion in the chamber to cut off debate and force votes on controversial issues. Traditionally, the senate does not use a “PQ” motion. But Richard used the motion two years ago to advance a controversial bill implementing a 72-hour waiting period for abortions, and again earlier this year to advance “Right to Work” legislation beyond a Democratic filibuster.
Following the use of the motion last spring on RTW, Senate Democrats went into full revolt, effectively halting all senate business for the normally busy final week of the legislative session as retaliation for the PQ motion.
Richard’s climb to the top post in the senate also comes as Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, slides into the Majority Floor Leader post and freshmen Republican senator from St. Louis, Bob Onder, is formally chosen as Assistant Majority Floor Leader.
“I’ve known Ron since before politics back when he was Speaker…and I’ve worked with him on a lot of issues before I was elected to this building, so we have a very good working relationship,” Kehoe said. “And as you all know, with Ron Richard, if you get anything, you’re going to get honesty.”
Richard said he had “few priorities” and that his main objective was to advance the Republican Senate caucus agenda, which he said members would discuss in the most detail at their regular November meeting.
“My goal is to get caucus priorities finished, and get individual senators’s priorities to committee, let them debate it and get it out for a vote,” Richard said. “My personal agenda item has always been, since the very first day I was elected under Speaker [Catherine] Hanaway, is job creation and economic development.”
Richard will now command the Missouri Senate where Republicans enjoy historically large majorities, and his formal election to the post will come tomorrow, the same day the chamber may be asked to weigh a vote to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the very RTW bill that Richard advanced through the controversial PQ.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.