Nixon is to order the election “without delay,” which would mean “quickly” to most of us — perhaps this November, before the next regular session of the legislature in January.
We know this because state Rep. Noel Torpey resigned his 29th District seat last December. Seven months later the seat remains vacant, because Nixon hasn’t called for an election.
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You might think it’s a bad thing that the 29th District in eastern Jackson County had no vote in the House this year, and you’d be right. Now consider this: Some people who live in the 29th House District also live in the 11th Senate District. And the senator in the 11th District is — you guessed it — Paul LeVota.
If Nixon fails to call a special election for either of those seats this year, some Missourians won’t have any vote in the legislature next January. That’s the very definition of taxation without representation, and it’s appalling.
But it’s even worse than that because there’s evidence Nixon manipulated the election calendar for partisan reasons.
Torpey is a Republican. If the governor had called a quick special election for the seat, voters probably would have chosen another Republican. Better to leave the seat vacant and narrow the Republicans’ majority in the state House, Nixon may have thought.
Of course, as John Lennon once pointed out, instant karma’s gonna get you. Paul LeVota is a Democrat. Leaving his seat open could hurt Nixon in the state Senate, so he wants a replacement as soon as possible.
Yet the governor can hardly call an election to fill LeVota’s seat while leaving Torpey’s vacant. Republican Rep. John Diehl’s seat is also open — he, too, resigned in disgrace. If Nixon calls all three special elections “without delay,” it probably would mean a net legislative gain for the GOP, hardly the outcome he wants.
Few outsiders expect the governor to make that choice. Instead, they think he’ll keep all three seats open until November 2016, leaving some voters unrepresented until January 2017.
Lawmakers should call his bluff. Missouri law should set strict time limits for calling special elections so that no governor can play politics with the people’s right to representation in Jefferson City.