By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Those in the area who know state Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, won’t be surprised at how the former Joplin mayor was described in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article about his selection as the new Senate majority floor leader.
A column by Virginia Young, Jefferson City bureau chief for the Post-Dispatch, noted that Richard “is known for being accessible and unpretentious.”
She quoted state Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, who said members of the Senate Republican caucus “just felt that people have tremendous confidence in Ron.”
“They don’t think he can be influenced, he’s open to everybody’s ideas and they trust him, inherently,” Lamping said. “And he’s for the team, and the team has to do better.”
Gary Burton, a longtime local legislator who now is a lobbyist, noted that Richard was asked by the Republican caucus leadership to run for the job rather than having to campaign for it.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen them actually go recruit someone they want,” Burton said. “It shows the respect his fellow senators have for him. They believe he can get the job done and not be sidetracked.”
Burton said he didn’t disagree, adding, “Ron can be very focused.”
Senate and House leaders for several years have made job creation the top priority of legislative sessions, but for the most part they have been unable to agree on measures to bring more jobs to the state. Job creation has been a priority of Richard’s since he was first elected to the Missouri House in 2002 and even before, when he was Joplin mayor and was involved in attracting a number of new businesses to the area. Before being elected speaker of the House in 2008, he was chairman of the House Committee on Job Creation and Economic Development. In the Senate, he is vice chairman of the Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee.
He also has accompanied governors — both Democratic and Republican — on prospecting trips aimed at bringing more jobs to the state.
More leadership posts
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., on Wednesday was re-elected as vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. Blunt was nominated by Sen. Jeff Sessions, of Alabama.
“Our nation is facing critical challenges today,” Blunt said in a statement. “I will continue to work with my colleagues at the leadership table to advance pro-growth, pro-jobs policies in the United States Senate to help jump start our economy and put more people back to work.”
Blunt was county clerk in Greene County, then served eight years as Missouri secretary of state. Before running for the Senate two years ago, he served 14 years in the U.S. House, where he also held leadership positions.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas was selected as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which oversees fundraising for U.S. Senate candidates. Moran was elected to the Senate in 2010, and he served in the U.S. House for 14 years before that.
In the House, U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas was elected as vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, which is the media arm of the House Republicans. Jenkins previously was Kansas state treasurer.
Both Moran and Jenkins served previously as Kansas legislators.
Apparently calendars are not my strong suit. I’d like to argue that the mistake occurred because the date was many years before my birth. Alas, no.
A Neosho reader called to remind me that Democrat Charlie Brown’s tenure as representative of Missouri’s 7th District in the U.S. House was in the Eisenhower administration — not the Kennedy administration as I reported last week. Brown was succeeded by a continuous line of Republicans starting in 1961, which was the beginning of the Kennedy administration.
SUSAN REDDEN is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at email@example.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.