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

Missouri Senate Re-Elects Republicans Dempsey, Richards To Top Leadership

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The November elections were very good for Republicans in the state Senate. Come January, when the new legislative session opens, Republicans will hold 25 seats in the 34-member body. So it shouldn't be too surprising that Senate Republicans are sticking with the leaders they have.

On Thursday, senators met at the capitol and re-elected Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, as president pro-tem, and re-elected Ron Richard, R-Joplin, as majority floor leader. 

Dempsey says he hopes the Senate can have a better relationship with Gov. Jay Nixon, but he also took the  governor, a Democrat, to task for not working with lawmakers.

"We did a lot of good work in the last two years, a lot of bipartisan work in the last two years," Dempsey told reporters.  "(On) the revision of the criminal code, (for example), the governor was one person (who said) 'let's take a little snippet of it and find a reason we can't support it'… Instead of doing that, all the members of the senate said, 'this is good legislation that a lot of people spent a lot of time on and found a reason to vote yes.'"

Newly elected House leaders have said the same thing about the governor.

Nixon, however, told reporters Wednesday that he regularly works across the aisles with lawmakers from both parties to move the state forward.

Dempsey also discussed some of their top priorities for the 2015 legislative session. They include passing a revised version of the agriculture bill that the governor vetoed earlier this year. Nixon objected to language that would have reclassified deer as livestock and moved their oversight from the Department of Conservation to the Department of Agriculture.  Dempsey says this time they'll leave that language out.

Dempsey also said they'll focus on legislation meant to spur economic growth and improve education.  In addition, the Senate GOP caucus will meet again to discuss and plot out their specific legislative agenda. The date, time and location of that meeting have not been set, but it's tentatively planned next week.

Senate Republicans also re-elected three members to the same posts:

  • Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, assistant majority leader
  • Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, caucus chair
  • Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, caucus secretary

The only change within the Senate GOP caucus was the election of a new majority whip.  Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, was chosen for the job because the current whip, Brian Nieves, R-Washington, Mo., did not seek re-election to the Missouri Senate.
Senate Democrats also met at the Capitol Thursday and chose new leaders. Joseph Keaveny, D-St. Louis, was elected minority floor leader.  He replaces Jolie Justus, D-Kansas Ciy, who is leaving the Senate due to term limits.

The Senate Democratic Caucus also elected:

  • Gina Walsh, D-North County, assistant minority leader
  • Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, caucus secretary
  • Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, minority whip
  • Shalon "Kiki" Curls, D-Kansas City, caucus chair

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.