Kasten won't run for full house term

Sunday, February 24, 2008
Mary Kasten on Friday, January 25, 2008. (Kit Doyle)

State representative-elect Mary Kasten hasn't been sworn in yet, but she already announced she doesn't want the job after this year's election.

In a statement issued Saturday, Kasten, a Republican, said she would not file for a full term as the lawmaker for the 158th District Missouri House seat she won in a special election Feb. 5. Filing opens Tuesday for partisan offices, with nominees to be decided in August for the Nov. 4 general election.

Kasten, 79, held the seat from 1983 until 2001. Under Missouri term limits, she is eligible for one more full term in the Missouri House.

"Late last fall when I was approached by community leaders and friends to run again for the state legislature, I knew Cape Girardeau needed a representative that could hit the ground running on day one, and that is what I am doing now," she said in a prepared statement. "I also understand the need for seniority in the legislative process. Cape Girardeau needs a representative who has the potential to serve several terms."

Kasten received 50.1 percent of the vote in the Feb. 5 special election, defeating Democratic Party nominee Mike Keefe, a former Cape Girardeau postmaster, and Libertarian Party nominee Steve Kinder, a pharmacist, for the seat given up by Nathan Cooper following his guilty plea to federal immigration fraud charges.

Several Republicans had sought the party's nomination prior to the selection of Kasten. Her decision to step aside after filling out the remainder of Cooper's term could set up a scramble in the August primary.

Wayne Wallingford, an executive with McDonald's of Southeast Missouri, seemingly had the nomination in hand until issues over his voter registration scuttled his bid. Clint Tracy, son of Cape Girardeau City Councilwoman Debra Tracy, also sought the nomination, as did Harry Rediger, a prominent retired businessman.

Kasten has not been sworn into office yet because the ice storm that hit the county Feb. 11 and 12 cut power to county offices and delayed certification of the election results, Cape Girardeau County Clerk Kara Clark said Thursday. Power was out at county offices for three days and the certified results were sent by overnight courier service to Jefferson City on Feb. 16. The following Monday was a state holiday and paperwork from the Secretary of State's office had not reached the Missouri House in time to swear Kasten in before lawmakers adjourned for the week Thursday.

Kasten said she has watching legislative work from the sidelines in preparation for becoming a member.

Republicans have held the Cape Girardeau legislative seat since Kasten won the office in 1982.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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