The Buzz

Names begin to surface to succeed Missouri state Sen. Paul LeVota

Rizzo. Podhola. Whiting.

Those three Democratic names have surfaced in recent days to succeed Paul LeVota, the disgraced Democratic state senator from Independence.

LeVota is resigning next month in the wake of accusations of sexual harassment from two former interns in his office. Democrats are seen as having the best shot of winning the seat.

Perhaps the best-known of the potential candidates is three-term state Rep. John Rizzo of northeast Kansas City.

“I’m definitely looking into it,” Rizzo told The Buzz on Thursday.

Rizzo’s challenge is residency. He currently lives just outside the 11th Senatorial District and would have to move inside. Rizzo won’t run if Gov. Jay Nixon calls a special election prior to the November 2016 general election because that wouldn’t give him time to meet the residency requirements.

Under state law, Rizzo would have to reside within the 11th for a year prior to November 2016 to qualify. (The August primary doesn’t count because that’s a party election).

Another intriguing possible candidate is Jessica Podhola, the former executive director of the Jackson County Democratic party who now works for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in Kansas City.

“I’m taking a hard look at it,” she said.

A third potential candidate is Independence Alderman Chris Whiting, an ally of the LeVotas.