The state Democratic Party and a Missouri military veteran have filed a lawsuit arguing that Governor Mike Parson does not have the power to appoint someone as lieutenant governor. The party wants the position to be filled by voters electing someone to the spot. State Senate President Ron Richard, R-Joplin, tells Missourinet affiliate KZRG in Joplin he agrees with Parson’s decision to fill the position this week with fellow Republican Mike Kehoe.

Cole County Judge Patricia Joyce administers the oath of office to Mike Kehoe as Lieutenant Governor on June 18, 2018 (photo courtesy of Missouri Senate photographer Harrison Sweazea)

“I think the governor is correct that that position needs to be filled,” says Richard. “I think they made the right move. However, like everything else in Jeff City, it’s subject to someone filing a protest or lawsuit.”

Many lawmakers and their attorneys have been studying to see if the governor has the authority to appoint someone to the elected position. The Missouri Constitution does not state a clear course of action to fill the office when it becomes vacant.

Until Monday, Kehoe worked alongside Richard as the Senate majority floor leader.

“Governor Parson wants someone that’s very knowledgeable of infrastructure and we’re going to have to do something to our highways and ports one of these days,” says Richard. “Mike Kehoe is an expert on that.”

Some Democrats back Kehoe serving as lieutenant governor, including state Sens. Gina Walsh of Bellefontaine Neighbors, Kiki Curls of Kansas City and Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis. Former Govs. Jay Nixon and Bob Holden, both Democrats agree that the governor has the power to appoint someone to the Lieutenant Governor’s seat.

Missourinet’s requests for comment from the Democratic Party have not been returned.

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