JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Fulton, told The Missouri Times in an exclusive interview that she intends to run for Speaker Pro Tem, which was vacated after newly-elected Congressman Jason Smith left for Washington D.C.
Riddle, who is currently House Rules Chairman and former Assistant Majority Floor Leader, said she was seeking the position largely because she missed working on the floor with her fellow members and wanted to play a larger role in the day-to-day activity.
“This last year, as Rules Chairman, I spent a lot of time not on the floor in meetings with members,” Riddle told The Missouri Times. “I missed being part of that floor activity, taking an active role in moving bills. It’s a very exciting part of the process and I’d like to get back into that.”
Riddle said she hadn’t planned on running initially, but that several of her fellow members have approached her and asked her to consider it. She said that after having a number of positive conversations, she was convinced it was the right decision.
“When my colleagues come to me and ask me to consider something like that, I have to take that seriously,” Riddle said. “Because they obviously think I can bring something to the table or that there is a need for me, and of course that’s going to make me consider it.”
Riddle will be running against Rep. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg. Hoskins announced his intentions in May, and ran for the position last year against then-Rep. Jason Smith, but lost.
Hoskins has already started campaigning for the office, meeting in St. Louis with fellow members during the last week to hear their concerns and gauge his support within the caucus.
The Republicans will select their official candidate for Speaker Pro Tem — which, unlike other leadership positions, must be approved by a majority of the entire House and not just the party — during their August caucus meeting. The candidate will then be put before the body for an official vote during the veto session in September.
Hoskins and Riddle both said that competition, rather than a single candidate for the office, was good for the party.
“I’m glad I’ll have competition, it’s good for our caucus and our party,” Hoskins said. “I’m going to talk about what I believe and what I want to do for the party and let my case stand on it’s own and hopefully my fellow members select me.”
Both members said they would like to spend more time on the dais than their predecessor Smith, who spent much of the legislative session campaigning for Congress and was not in the Capitol building as often.
“I think he’s going to be a great Congressmen and I absolutely think he needed to campaign,” Hoskins said. “But because [Smith] was campaigning, he maybe wasn’t able to be on the dais and be involved in the floor activity as much as he could have been and I’d like to change that.”
While the two have similar goals and spoke kindly of one another, Hoskins and Riddle have slightly different ambitions. Hoskins, if he is selected, intends to run again for his House seat in 2014 and remain on as Speaker Pro Tem. Riddle told The Missouri Times that she would only be in the position for one year, because she plans to seek the senate seat which will be vacated next year by Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Audrain County, because of term limits.
“I think that, because of redistricting, that area is a good fit for me,” Riddle said. “And ultimately I’m interested in continuing to serve the state after my time is up in the House. So if that means running for this seat before I’m termed out, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Riddle largely leaned on her experience as Assistant Floor Leader and Rules Chair to prove she has the experience necessary for Speaker Pro Tem. Hoskins frames himself as more of an outsider, saying he would refuse to “rubber stamp” the leadership agenda.
“My goal is to be as involved in leadership meetings as possible, voice the concerns of our members and vote and lead accordingly,” Hoskins said. “I think I’ve proven that I’m going to make the right decision before I make the easy one.”
Both members said they were going to spend the next few weeks calling and visiting with caucus members to gauge their relative support. The caucus will decide which of them will be their official selection to put before the body during the HRCC statewide caucus meeting August 16.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.