Todd Richardson was officially elected Friday as the speaker of the Missouri House, replacing John Diehl after his resignation for exchanging sexually suggestive texts with a 19-year-old legislative intern.
Richardson, a 38-year-old Republican attorney from Poplar Bluff, could potentially serve in the legislature’s top leadership position for the next three years.
“I’m incredibly honored by the outpouring of support from my caucus, especially during what’s been a difficult few days,” Richardson said.
In a surprise move, the House session began with Diehl presiding over a full chamber. He apologized to the lawmakers and said the legislative body needs to hold itself to higher standards.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to serve you,” the departing speaker said.
His fellow Republicans stood and applauded. Members of the Democratic minority remained seated.
Originally from Cape Girardeau, Richardson lives in Poplar Bluff with his wife, Amber, and two children.
Richardson’s father, Mark, led House Republicans as minority leader in the 1990s before being forced to give up his leadership position after pleading guilty to charges of driving while intoxicated and child endangerment.
It was long his father’s ambition to be House speaker, but during Mark Richardson’s time in office Democrats maintained legislative majorities.
Now his son has fulfilled that goal.
“I expect my dad will be very proud,” Todd Richardson said.