New Job for Sen. McKenna

16 Dec

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has nominated local state Senator Ryan McKenna (D-22nd) to become the new director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. McKenna’s senate term expires in a year, and he was to be term-limited out. State Representatives Paul Wieland (R-112th) and Jeff Roorda (D-113th) will face off in November to replace him. They could face off in a special election for the seat, but news accounts are all saying that no such election is needed because it is less than one year before the next scheduled election. If so, residents of the 22nd district will be without a senator; they might be willing to accept that in exchange for not having to go through two elections. McKenna says his staff will still be in place in the interim.

There was a lot of speculation over what McKenna’s next job would be. It was thought he might challenge Ken Waller for Jefferson County Executive, or run for a lower-profile office like circuit court clerk, which will have its first vacancy in 28 years. But longtime employee Jeanette McKee quickly announced for that job. McKenna’s new job removes what probably would have been Waller’s strongest Democratic challenger.

Pro-labor politicians generally get taken care of. In addition to being senator, McKenna also works as a construction marketing representative for Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust. Roorda works for the St. Louis Police Association when he’s not legislating. What better job for a pro-labor guy than the Department of Labor?

McKenna has been term-limited out of both the House and Senate, and he’s only 40 years old, which means he was about 25 when his legislative career started. Political Fix has a good summary of the political careers of members of the McKenna clan:

His father, Bill McKenna, served 10 years in the House and six years in the Senate, finishing up as president pro tem in 1998. Ryan McKenna’s grandfather, J. Glennon McKenna, served in the House in the 1940s.

Ryan McKenna’s cousin, T.J. McKenna, D-Festus, serves in the state House.

TJ is only 28, and he appears to be attempting to go down the same road, although he won a squeaker last year for his first term and faces a tough rematch next year against Becky Ruth.

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