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Resignations of three state senators imminent

November 13, 2000
By: John Sheridan
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - A source close to Missouri Gov. Roger Wilson says the resignations of three state senators have been presented to the governor, but have not yet been accepted. The final resignations should be complete within the next day setting the stage for a special election that will determine if Republicans can maintain a senate majority.

State senators Joe Maxwell D-Mexico, William Clay D-St.Louis and Sam Graves R-Tarkio were all elected to higher offices last week. Accepting their resignations will allow Wilson to call a special election that will most likely take place on January 23.

Jerry Nachtigal, spokeman for the governors office, said problems with paperwork is holding up the resignation process, but would not comment on the nature of the problems.

Secretary of state communications dircetor Jim Grebing, whose office is in charge of elections, said his office had not been notified of the need for a special election.

"They are under no obligation to resign," Grebing said, noting that the candidates could wait until their present terms expire in January before calling for a special election.

Grebing said the rational thing for the parties would be to have the special election for all vacated senatorial seats at the same time.

News of the possible resignations led to rampant speculation Monday, as Joe Maxwell resigned as Democratic caucus chair this morning. Maxwell's resignation as chair and his refusal to comment on whether he would resign his senatorial seat perhaps signal his resignation is imminent.

"I obviously do not want to resign today if it makes no difference as to when Gov. Wilson would call the election," Maxwell said after annoucing his resignation as caucus chair.

Maxwell said he would talk to Wilson before revealing if he would indeed resign.

The announcement of the possible resignations could have far reaching effects for the Missouri senate in the new legislative session.

If the senators, who are all moving on to higher offices, did not resign before the new session began the senate would be evenly divided at 17-17.

Since they are stepping down, Republicans will initially control the senate for about three weeks, but that could change if Democrats win all three seats during the special election that will be held to fill the vacated posts.