Press "Enter" to skip to content

Tip Sheet: Replacing Paul LeVota


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Following last week’s news, eyes are now turning toward state Sen. Paul LeVota’s seat. Gov. Jay Nixon has announced special elections for other open House seats, but it doesn’t apply to LeVota’s seat, which technically doesn’t become vacant until next month. There is currently no special election date set.

In the event of a special election, the committees of each party would select a candidate. But that means Rep. John J. Rizzo — considered the heir-apparent to the seat by many Democrats — wouldn’t be eligible, since he won’t have lived in the district for one year. It would also give the Republicans a chance to compete in this Democratic district.




Representative John Rizzo

If there is no special election, he can move to the western end of his district that inside the senate 11th and would be a candidate that would likely make the race a lock. Rizzo is in House leadership and has a ring of strong allies in the Democratic Party, and he would be able to raise the money to likely take the race from Republican Senatorial Committee and their deep pockets.


Jessica Podhola

She is the director of governmental affairs for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in Kansas City. She would be a fresh face to the capitol, but has been very involved in Jackson County Democratic politics for a while, running several races in ‘12 and ‘14. Given the circumstances of LeVota’s resignation, a female candidate would make sense, and she has been the most aggressive so far. She would be the front-runner in a special election.



Independence Alderman Chris Whiting

He has close ties to the LeVotas, and would be in a good position to win a committee vote. He was mentioned early on as the front-runner but may not be interested.


Mayor of Independence Eileen Weir

She seems to be someone who could be a compromise candidate if the committee cannot decide on one of the others, but is unlikely to run for the seat in 2016.



Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo

She is an up and comer, and was rumored to be the favorite among several decision makers in Kansas City, but that talk seems to be dying down after her interest waned after winning a new job at KCP&L.


Those who have said they aren’t interested:

Representative Ira Anders

Rep. Tom McDonald

Independence Alderman Curt Dougherty

Teresa Garcia Ruiz

Former Representative John Mayfield



Former Representative Noel Torpey

He is the candidate who has been heavily recruited to run in the 11th since it was created. Torpey won a very difficult district for a Republican three times and is rumored to be the person the Republicans want to run in either the special election or 2016. But he just took a new job with FERAF in December and is likely uninterested.



Representative Bill Kidd

Kidd seems like a shoe in to run if there is a special election, but questionable about running for an open seat in 2016, when he would have to give up his House seat. Kidd has won a tough district and in the 7th year of the Obama presidency that has help elect so many Republicans in Missouri. Kidd is a legitimate candidate in a tough district for Republicans.