© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State Rep. Ellinger, One of House's Most Outspoken Progressives, Stepping Down

Sean Sandefur/St. Louis Public Radio.

State Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, announced Monday that he’s withdrawing as a candidate for re-election. Ellinger is in his second term.

Ellinger, 72, cited health reasons. A consultant, Jim Ross, said that Ellinger has been undergoing medical tests for several weeks.

Ellinger has been one of the state Capitol’s most outspoken progressives. He has been at the forefront of several recent legislative battles over Medicaid expansion, tax credits and crime bills.

Ellinger had filed last Tuesday, the first day of candidate filing, for a third two-year term representing the 86th House District. The district, which takes in University City, is considered a safe Democratic seat.

So far, Ellinger had no opposition, so his decision to withdraw could touch off a flurry of interest from potential replacements, most likely Democrats.

Ellinger does plan, however, to complete his term, which runs until January 2015.

Ellinger had first won election in a combative 2010 primary. He had made earlier unsuccessful bids for the state House in the 1960s, when he and his family resided in Boone County and later in the Hannibal area.

A Kirkwood native, Ellinger is a lawyer. He and his daughter, Maggie Ellinger-Locke, share a law practice. His wife, Linda Locke, is a civic activist.

In a statement, Ellinger said that he was ending his legislative career “with great regret… Late last week I received information from my cardiologist that in the future will require me to redirect my focus toward my health.”

“I am announcing my withdrawal today in order to provide as much time as possible for residents of the 86th District to consider running for this seat; filing closes March 25,” he continued. “However, my office remains open and we will continue legislative work until my term ends in January 2015.

“I hope that whomever is chosen by the voters will carry on my commitment to helping the vulnerable and the powerless, to addressing issues of injustice and unfairness, and to representing the needs of all Missourians.

“I am proud of the work we have done in the legislature during the past several years, including work on juvenile justice, the criminal code and healthcare.

“I am disappointed that we have not yet expanded Medicaid to the hundreds of thousands of Missourians without coverage, and that we continue to spend more time on fringe issues than on core issues like jobs and health care.”

Even though House Democrats are heavily outnumbered in the Republican-controlled chamber, Ellinger said that Democratic votes have made the difference on a number of key issues.  He cited as an example the narrow defeat last summer of an attempt to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a tax-cut bill that Ellinger said amounted to “bankrupting public education.”

“Had a single vote changed, today we would criminalize law enforcement officers who enforced federal laws regarding machine guns,” he continued. “Had one vote changed we would institutionalize conspiracy theories regarding Sharia law and the United Nations. When votes on legislation have razor-thin margins, each individual vote becomes more, not less important.”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.