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POLITICS: Campaigns

GOP wants special election for Missouri House seat

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Politics,Associated Press,Missouri,Campaigns

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Republicans want Gov. Jay Nixon to call a special election for a rural Missouri House seat that has been vacant since June.

The chairwoman of a local Republican committee came to the Capitol on Thursday to deliver a letter to the governor's office asking Nixon to set a special election to choose a successor to former state Rep. Jason Smith.

"We have no voice and we have no representation — in short, we are disenfranchised," wrote Pamela Grow, the chairwoman of the 120th Legislative District Republican Committee. The letter also listed the names of other local GOP committee officers.

Smith, a Republican, resigned from the 120th House District after winning a June 4 special election to replace resigned U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson. The 120th District includes parts of Crawford and Phelps counties and typically leans toward Republicans. Nixon is a Democrat.

The Missouri Constitution gives the governor authority to set special elections to fill legislative vacancies but doesn't require him to do so within any particular time. Governors often schedule special elections to coincide with regular election dates to save money.

Nixon spokesman Scott Holste cited the traditional practice of timing special elections with other races or ballot issues while confirming in an email Thursday that no special election has been set yet for Smith's former seat.

The local Republican committee suggested in its letter that Nixon could schedule a special election for April to coincide with municipal elections. The winner then would be able to take office in time to cast votes during the final few weeks of the annual legislative session that ends in mid-May.

House Republicans currently hold a 109-53 majority over Democrats with one vacancy. That means Republicans have the bare minimum number of seats necessary to attain the two-thirds majority needed to override gubernatorial vetoes without needing any votes from Democrats.

Grow questioned whether that was why Nixon was waiting to call a special election.

"It's to his political advantage not to have one additional Republican vote," Grow said in an interview.

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