The Missouri Legislative Black Caucus called Tuesday for an "immediate" special election to fill the seat of outgoing Rep. Kip Kendrick.
In a statement, Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove, the caucus's chair-elect, said the 45th District will require "immediate representation in the House, given the anticipated turbulence ahead of the Missouri General Assembly in the upcoming session."
Kendrick, D-Columbia, announced his departure from the state House of Representatives on Nov. 15. He will forgo his final term to serve as chief of staff in the office of Senator-elect Greg Razer, D-Kansas City.
The duty to call special elections to fill legislative vacancies falls to the governor. Manlove, D-Kansas City, said failure by Gov. Mike Parson to promptly call an election to fill Kendrick's seat would be "undemocratic."
Manlove said the ongoing pandemic adds urgency to the need to fill the seat as early as possible during the next legislative session.
"(In) addition to our regular duties to responsibly write new laws that remedy our state’s greatest problems, we will likely discuss the crucial allocation of CARES Act funding to aid hundreds of thousands of people across Missouri that are suffering," she said. "Every single district deserves a representative that can speak for them in Jefferson City and that includes the 45th District."
The state legislature is scheduled to convene Jan. 6 and adjourn May 30.
Speaking at a Nov. 20 meeting of the Boone County Muleskinners, Kendrick expressed optimism Parson would call a special election as early as April of next year, but acknowledged the election may not take place until August.
Kendrick cited conversations with state Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, as a source of that optimism.
"I feel confident that (Rowden) will push the governor's office and the governor himself to call for a special election as quickly as possible," he said. "I have full confidence that he wants to see the seat filled."
Kendrick added he is confident the seat will remain in Democratic control. "I think it looks obviously favorable amongst Democrats; it's the right thing to do as well, to get the seat filled quickly."