Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, will find out in just a few months whether he will be the next Speaker of the House.
Richard, one of two announced candidates for the position, along with Rep. Allen Icet, R-Wildwood, has been jockeying for the position for the past several months.
Speaker Rod Jetton's plan to have the decision made early (Jetton will remain speaker throughout next year, which will be his last year due to term limits) has generated some controversy:
Traditionally, the majority caucus picks the speaker the day after the general election — in other words, the next speaker would be selected in November 2008. The newly elected representatives would travel to the Capitol for closed-door sessions where they would fill the posts of speaker, majority leader and lesser offices.
Republicans say Jetton suggested earlier this year that they instead pick the speaker in September during the Legislature's annual veto session. That way, Republicans could work together next year rather than in factions, said Rep. Steve Hobbs, R-Mexico.
"If the Republicans want to keep the majority, he thought it was important to have a speaker-designee," Hobbs said.
The plan has raised suspicions that Jetton intends to leave office early, but he has assured Republicans that he will stay in office through next year's legislative session.
But the decision to conduct the vote this year cuts out newly-elected representatives who normally are able to cast ballots, and it puts the speaker-elect under considerable pressure from other legislators seeking plum positions throughout 2008.
On the other hand, what if the Republicans choose the next Speaker of the House, then lose their majority during the November 2008 elections?