Two socially conservative Democrats elected to Missouri Senate
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Two socially conservative Democrats elected to Missouri Senate

Date: November 8, 2006
By: Kathryn Buschman
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Democrats picked up two seats in state Senate after Tuesdays' election. The two seats were filled by men with socially conservative voting records.

 Ryan McKenna and Wes Shoemyer have both supported issues pushed by Republicans including gun-rights. Both voted to ban same-sex marriage in 2004 and voted against the Equal Rights Amendment in 2001.  

"I would call myself a moderate-very much so," Wes Shoemyer, D-Audrain, said. "I think when you become a senator you need be very willing to expand and broaden your horizon but certainly need to be true to your district. Some of the views have become very extreme in this state to be called a conservative, and I certainly don't want  to be painted into that corner. I think we need to have some moderation on some of these issues."

Ryan McKenna from Jefferson County and son of former Senate pro-tem Bill McKenna, voted to override a governor's veto on a ban on partial-birth abortions and a veto of the concealed weapons law in 2004.

"I think what we simply do is reflect the values of our district. I think whenever you run for office you are to be a representative of the people of your district, I think that is what we do,"  Shoemyer said.

Shoemyer represents a rural district and says he is socially conservative but considers himself very liberal on some issues.

"When it comes to education I am certainly liberal," Shoemyer said. "Every child should have the opportunity to have an education, every person should have access to health care and we should do those things that promote people getting along with each other and give everyone an opportunity to be successful in this state."

Over in the House of Representatives, Speaker Rod Jetton said he noticed Democrats spouting a more conservative theme. "I don't know if their party's changed, obviously their platform is still the same: they are pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-gay marriage-on the platform,"  Jetton, R-Bollinger, said. "But I am seeing, particularly out state where I live, every Democrat that ran, pretty much, was pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-gay marriage, they were R7epublicans running for office."

Jetton said he has seen more Democrats running on the Republican's agenda than ever before which he said was flattering.  

With hoots and hollering from Republican members of Missouri's House of Representatives Jetton announced the the House's leadership for 2007 Wednesday afternoon. Republican house members vote for the seven leadership positions, and none of the positions changed from this year.

Republicans lost five seats in the House, but they still hold the majority. Jetton said it could have been a lot worse. As of right now, Republicans will hold 92 seats in the House and outnumber Democrats by more than 20 seats. "Believe it or not I rolled over and talked to my wife this morning, and gave her a big hug and said 'I never thought I would be so happy to lose five seats,'" Jetton said.  

Jetton said the House make-up is the second largest Republican majority in 100 years.

With his Republican colleagues behind him, Jetton said cutting taxes, particularly for senior citizens, is going to be a top priority next legislative session.  "We are one of 15 states  that tax Social Security benefits," Jetton said. "If we could cut that tax that would make a huge difference when it comes to buying food, prescription drugs and medication-that puts some real money back in the pockets of seniors." 

Jetton said he had not talked to Gov. Matt Blunt specifically about the tax cuts, but said the governor is interested in cutting income taxes in the state.

House Democrats and Senate Republicans and Democrats will hold party leadership elections Thursday, Nov. 9, behind closed doors.  No contests have emerged to challenge the current leadership for Senate Republicans nor for the Democratic's leadership posts in the House.

The next legislative sessions begins Jan. 3, 2007 and ends May 18, 2007.

Missouri House of Representative 2007 Leadership Positions

Speaker of the House: Rod Jetton

Speaker Pro Tem: Carl Bearden

Majority Floor Leader: Tom Dempsey

Assistant Majority Floor leader: Tom Self

Majority Whip: Brian Nieves

Majority Caucus Chair: Bob Dixon

Majority Caucus Secretary: Marilyn Ruestman