(The Center Square) – After four resignations, a death and an expulsion, the seats of six members of Missouri’s House of Representatives – all Republicans – are vacant.
About 236,000 Missourians live in the six districts, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, or 4% of the state’s population.
As the Missouri legislature reconvened on Wednesday, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft wrote a letter to Gov. Mike Parson, both Republicans, asking him to hold special elections “without delay” in the districts. If the elections aren't ordered by Jan. 10, they won't be held as part of municipal elections on April 5, minimizing taxpayer costs.
“As you know, without a special election, these current seats will be vacant until January 2023 and residents in the affected districts will be represented only by their state senator as lawmakers take crucial votes on spending, abortion, and congressional redistricting,” wrote Ashcroft, a likely candidate for governor in 2024.
Parson and his spokesperson were asked several times by The Center Square about his plan to order special elections during appearances in the St. Louis region during the final months of 2021. He refused to answer any questions about it during an event in St. Louis County on Nov. 3 and Kelli Jones, director of communications, acknowledged the situation.
Ashcroft quoted in his letter the Missouri statute pertaining to the governor calling for a special election: “If the governor receives any resignation or notice of vacancy, or if he is satisfied of the death of any member of either house, during the recess, he shall, without delay, issue a writ of election to supply the vacancy.”
Ashcroft highlighted how Parson called a special election last January to fill an open house seat in the 45th district in central Missouri when Democrat Kip Kendrick resigned to become the chief of staff for Senator Greg Razer, D-Kansas City. The seat is currently held by Democrat David Smith.
“As a state, it is critical that we take the appropriate steps to ensure that all Missourians are fairly, justly and equitably represented at all levels of government,” wrote Ashcroft, the son of former Missouri Governor, U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. “By calling a special election, these vacant seats can be filled and the constituents of these districts can again have full representation in the Missouri General Assembly.”