As many know by now, Jo Ann Emerson will vacate the Missouri 8th Congressional District seat for a cush lobbying position, which is not surprising from the lowest rated Republican in Missouri's congressional delegation, according to Heritage Action.
The SEMO Times lays out the contenders for that seat, though I would argue Sarah Steelman, Jason Crowell & Peter Kinder are the main contenders. However, I want to focus in on Peter Kinder, and the vacancy of the Lt. Governor position should he be the appointed nominee.
I have heard arguments that the Governor cannot appoint a replacement, but my reading of the Missouri Constitution & Statutes suggests otherwise. First, Missouri Constitution Article IV Section 4:
The governor shall fill all vacancies in public offices unless otherwise provided by law, and his appointees shall serve until their successors are duly elected or appointed and qualified.
The relevant phrase in that provision reads, "unless otherwise provided by law." If a provision of the Missouri Statutes provides another method of replacement in the case of a vacancy, then the statute should hold. Those that have tried to quell fears the Governor would appoint a Democrat to one of two statewide positions held by a Republican in Missouri have pointed to Missouri Revised Statute 105.030:
Whenever any vacancy, caused in any manner or by any means whatsoever, occurs or exists in any state or county office originally filled by election of the people, other than in the offices of lieutenant governor, state senator or representative, sheriff, or recorder of deeds in the city of St. Louis, the vacancy shall be filled by appointment by the governor....
While this provision indicates, in the case of a vacancy, the Governor shall not appoint the Lt. Governor, it does not provide a method by which the Lt. Governor vacancy SHOULD be filled. And this is the crux of my concern. I have not found a provision that provides for the replacement. This leads me to believe that the appointment mechanism would revert to the Missouri Constitution, that being the Governor fills the vacancy. If someone knows of such a provision in the statutes that states otherwise, please let it be known. If someone knows of a relevant court decision please pass it along.
The reason a gubernatorial appointment concerns me is the fact that Governor Nixon could end up making two new appointments, broadening the Democrat field for higher office in the future. Suppose Governor Nixon were to appoint State Treasurer Clint Zweifel or State Attorney General Chris Koster to the Lt. Governor position. He would then be able to appoint a replacement for either one of those vacancies.
While this is not a post slamming Peter Kinder as a choice for MO-8, it is a clarion call for sound legal reasoning as we wade through this appointment & vacancy process. The language of the Missouri Constitution & Statutes are not as clear as some would have us think, so it is of utmost importance that the Republican 8th Congressional District Committee make a sound choice.
Jo Ann Emerson's retirement from Congress provides a unique opportunity for great conservative leadership in the Missouri congressional delegation...let us not screw this up.