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Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon endorses John Rizzo in Jackson County state senate race

State Rep. John Rizzo speaks on the Missouri House floor during the 2016 legislative session.
State Rep. John Rizzo speaks on the Missouri House floor during the 2016 legislative session. Missouri House Communications

In an unexpected move, Gov. Jay Nixon has waded into the contested Democratic primary to replace Paul LeVota in the Missouri Senate.

Nixon on Monday formally endorsed state Rep. John Rizzo over Jessica Podhola in the Senate District 11 primary.

“The Missouri Senate needs John Rizzo,” Nixon said in a prepared statement, “and that's why I proudly endorse John Rizzo for the Missouri Senate.”

Rizzo is a three term state represenative from Kansas City. Podhola is the governmental affairs director for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades and a longtime Democratic activist in Jackson County.

Two other Democrats are also running for the seat, which has been vacant since LeVota resigned last year over allegations that he sexually harassed his interns. But the other two — Anthony Banks and Mary Catherine DiCarlo — have raised little money and are considered long shots for the nomination.

The district is made up of Independence, Sugar Creek and northeast Jackson County.

The winner of the Aug. 2 primary will take on Republican Brent Lasater, a former state representative from Independence.

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