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Columbia Missourian

3 Missouri districts hold special election for open House seats

By CHRIS BLANK/The Associated Press
February 5, 2008 | 5:38 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Voters in three eastern Missouri House districts went to the polls Tuesday to select replacements for lawmakers who resigned for new job opportunities or a criminal conviction.

Republicans had controlled two of the three open seats, but the elections will not significantly affect the balance of power in a chamber where the GOP had an 89-69 majority. Even after Tuesday's elections, two of the House's 163 seats will remain vacant.

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The three seats up for election Tuesday opened after the last legislative session. Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Carl Bearden, of St. Charles, and Democrat Rep. Fred Kratky, of St. Louis, resigned to take private-sector jobs. Republican Rep. Nathan Cooper, of Cape Girardeau, also resigned during the summer, after pleading guilty to one felony count of visa fraud and one felony count of making a false statement to the Department of Labor.

In southeast Missouri, former state Rep. Mary Kasten, who held office from 1983 to 2001, was running for Cooper's old seat in a bid to return to the Legislature. Former postmaster Mike Keefe, a Democrat, and pharmacist Steve Kinder, a Libertarian, were running against her.

The St. Charles County race pitted Republican Mark Parkinson, a former aide for U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, against Democrat Tom Fann, who manages his own insurance agency.

Bearden, who was elected in 2000 and rose to become the second-ranking House member, would not have been able to run again because of term limits. He is now working as a lobbyist.

In the third race, Michele Kratky, was running unopposed to fill her husband's seat. Fred Kratky was elected in 2002 and resigned to become the executive vice president and chief executive officer for the St. Louis Association of Realtors. Last year, his wife was a lobbyist for the association.

Special elections have not been called to fill seats opened after Republican House Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, of St. Charles, resigned to run for the Senate and Democratic Rep. John Bowman, of St. Louis, stepped down following his guilty plea to one misdemeanor count of bribing a bank official.