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Schatz selected to lead Senate Republicans, Walsh re-elected as minority leader

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Senate Republicans and Democrats met in their respective caucus on Thursday to elect caucus leaders for the 100th General Assembly.

While Democrats opted to remain under the leadership of Sen. Gina Walsh, Republicans voted for Sen. Dave Schatz to replace Sen. Ron Richard.

“Don’t mistake my passion as being too hard charging. I am passionate about what I do, but I am also reasonable,” said Schatz. “My goal will be to make sure that every member of the Missouri Senate, the minority party as well, feel like they have great opportunity with a working relationship with me.”

He noted that is was an honor to have the confidence of his colleagues and that he looked forward to leading the Missouri Senate and moving the state forward.

Schatz is stepping into the shoes of former-Sen. Ron Richard who now serves the state as lieutenant governor.

“Issue by issue, Missourians have said loud and clear that here at home, they want leaders who care about working families, care about affordable health care, and care about creating good jobs that pay a fair wage,” said Walsh. “Heading into the next legislative session, we are going to build on this momentum and I am grateful to lead such a talented and energetic group of State Senators.”


Sen. Dave Schatz will serve as the next president pro tem for the chamber.

Schatz, who recently re-elected to his second term as a state Senator, served two terms in the House. He is the vice president of Schatz Underground, Inc., a family-run business. He has started and operated several businesses in his community.

He serves as chairman of the Senate Interim Committee on Labor Reform and the Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety committee along serving as vice-chair of the 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force, the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight, and the Committee on Government Reform.


Sen. Caleb Rowden will serve as the next majority floor leader for the chamber.

Rowden, who is in his first term as a Senator, previously served two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives.

In addition to his legislative duties, Senator Rowden owns Clarius Interactive, a media and marketing company also based in Columbia. He enjoyed a successful career in full-time ministry as a touring Christian singer/songwriter.  During that time, he played in 45 states, selling thousands of records and garnering two top 20 national radio hits.  He also participated in multiple mission trips, ranging from serving the homeless in Atlanta, GA to a month-long internship ministering to the people of Reynosa, Mexico.

Amongst serving on various committees, Rowden is the vice-chairman of the Professional Registration committee.


Sen. Wayne Wallingford will serve as the next assistant majority floor leader for the chamber.

In his second term as a senator, Wallingford served two years in the House previously.

In addition to his legislative duties, Senator Wallingford is the Chief People Officer at McDonald’s of Southeast Missouri. He previously spent 11 years with Taco Bell Corporation as a general manager, multi-unit manager, field staffing manager, field training coach and area coach.

Senator Wallingford is a retired Lt. Colonel with the United States Air Force. He served on active duty for 25 years, including five tours in Vietnam and six tours in Desert Storm/Desert Shield. He received the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, 21 Air Medals, the Air Force Commendation Medal for Heroism and several other honors.


Sen. Dan Hegeman will serve as the next Republican caucus chair for the chamber.

Elected in November 2014 and re-elected in 2018, Hegeman is past president of Andrew County Farm Bureau. He is a lifetime farmer and is part owner of a six-generation family-owned row crop and cattle farm in Andrew County. Hegeman now serves as a community affairs manager for Kansas City Power & Light.

He previously served in the Missouri House. He also served as the associate district manager for Congressman Sam Graves’ St. Joseph office.


Sen. Sandy Crawford will serve as the next Republican whip for the chamber.

Crawford was elected to the Missouri Senate in August of 2017 in a special election. Prior to that she served in the Missouri House of Representatives since 2010.

Crawford and her husband, John, raise beef cattle near Buffalo where they live.


Sen. Gina Walsh gives her final Senate speech on Sen. Dan Brown’s right-to-work bill Jan. 25, 2017.

Sen. Gina Walsh will continue to serve as the minority floor leader for the chamber.

In November 2016, Walsh was elected to a second Senate term and was chosen to serve as minority floor leader. Prior to her service in the Senate, she served four terms in the Missouri House of Representatives.

Walsh is a retired member of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local #1, with over 35 years of experience in the trade. Walsh is also president of the Missouri State Building & Construction Trades Council and serves on the executive board of the Missouri AFL-CIO. She also served on the board of the Riverview Fire Protection District for nearly ten years as director, serving five years as chairperson.

Walsh is the vice-chairwoman on the Senate Select Committee on Capital Improvements along with serving on several other committees.


Sen. Shalonn “Kiki” Curls will continue to serve as the minority assistant floor leader for the chamber.

After serving in the Missouri House since 2007, she won a special election to the Missouri Senate in February 2011. Curls won re-election to the Senate in 2012 and again in 2016.

In addition to her legislative duties, Curls works in real estate development and currently serves as the 14th Ward Democratic Committeewoman in Kansas City.

She also holds the office of Treasurer of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. and is vice-chairwoman of the Progress and Development committee and serves on a multitude of other committees.


Sen.-elect Karla May serve as the next minority caucus chair for the chamber.

May is a lifetime resident of the city of St. Louis. Prior to being elected to the Missouri Senate, May served four terms in the Missouri House of Representatives. She is a graduate of St. Louis University, where she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and Lindenwood University where she received her Master of Arts in Teaching.

She has been employed for the past fourteen years at AT&T, and worked as a union steward with CWA (Communication Workers of America 6300). She is a union card-carrying member of CBTU (Coalition of Black Trade Unionists) where she sits on the executive board, St. Louis City Labor Club, and CWA. Karla has been a board member for the St. Louis Philanthropic for the past sixteen years.


The Jay Nixon official portrait unveiling, January 4, 2017. PHOTO/ALISHA SHURR-THE MISSOURI TIMES

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed serve as the next minority whip for the chamber.

At the age of 19, Nasheed opened Sankofa Books and Gifts, an inner-city bookstore, with the mission of promoting reading and meaningful discussion. After 10 years as a small business owner, Nasheed sold her bookstore and decided to run for office.

She was first elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2006. Nasheed is in her second term as a state Senator.

In addition to her legislative responsibilities, Nasheed also serves as President of the Junior Class Parents’ Association at Cardinal Ritter High School. She is a founder of the “In it 2 Win” Coalition, which identifies students who have dropped out of school, or were pushed out, and assists in returning them to the classroom. She is also active in the Fresh Start Program, which assists youth between the ages of 17 and 21 to return to the classroom to earn their high school diplomas.