A major break has developed this afternoon in the Democratic leadership gridlock that's blocked action in Missouri's House. Phill Brooks has the story from Jefferson City:
The Democratic nominee for speaker -- northeast Missouri represenative Sam Leake has dropped out of the race.
Actually, Leake had no choice but to give up -- after Black Caucus Chair Paula Carter made it clear that there was no way the rural, conservative Democrat would get the votes of the Black Caucus:
Without the votes of the Black Caucus, Leake could not win election as House Speaker.
Now Democrats are meeting behind a closed door caucus to find another candidate for what has been termed the second most powerful position in state government.