JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri — Missouri Republican senators on Tuesday chose Majority Leader Ron Richard to be the new Senate president pro tem. If elected by the full Senate, Richard would be the only person in state history to serve both as House speaker and in the top Senate position.
GOP senators met privately Tuesday to select Richard as a successor to former Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, who resigned in August. Because Republicans control the chamber, Richard is expected to be elected in a full Senate vote Wednesday.
"I'm ready to get to work and work on majority priorities," Richard said.
Richard's likely election to president pro tem is one of several leadership shake-ups that will mean new faces in the top positions in both the House and Senate when lawmakers meet Wednesday to consider overturning Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's vetoes on more than a dozen bills.
The turnover started when former Republican House Speaker John Diehl resigned on the last day of session in May after admitting to exchanging sexually suggestive text messages with a House intern. He was replaced by the previous majority leader, Todd Richardson, who in turn was replaced as majority leader by former assistant majority leader Rep. Mike Cierpiot.
Dempsey said he resigned as Senate president pro tem to launch a private-sector career and spend more time with family. He now works at a St. Louis-based lobbying firm.
Richard, as floor leader, was an expected candidate to replace Dempsey.
Also Tuesday, Republicans selected Sen. Mike Kehoe, of Jefferson City, to fill Dempsey's position as majority leader. Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, is the new assistant majority floor leader.
Richard, of Joplin, was elected speaker of the House in 2008 and elected to the Senate in 2010. He served as majority leader in that chamber since 2012.
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