Police union backs Miller; Limbaugh has support, too

Monday, November 19, 2012
Frank Miller

Citing his experience in the office and an established relationship with law enforcement, the union representing Cape Girardeau police officers has endorsed Frank Miller to become the next county prosecutor.

The Cape Girardeau Police Officers Association decided to throw its weight behind Miller by an almost unanimous vote, said narcotics officer and association president Bill Bohnert. The association intends to send a letter today to Gov. Jay Nixon, who will appoint a lawyer to fill the remaining two years of the term vacated by former Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle, who resigned to take a job as a federal prosecutor.

Cape Girardeau police officers think highly of Miller, Bohnert said. Miller has worked under Swingle for two years as an assistant prosecutor and has developed a reputation as being fair minded without being soft on crime.

"We just basically feel like Frank is the obvious choice," Bohnert said Saturday. "Frank is familiar with the office and he's a pretty aggressive prosecutor."

Chris Limbaugh

In backing Miller, the nonpartisan association cited the lack of experience of Chris Limbaugh, the only other individual who has declared an interest in the position.

"Right now, we just feel like Miller's the best candidate by a long shot," Bohnert said.

The race to replace Swingle has been one of ins and outs so far, with no idea when Gov. Nixon will make an appointment or if he will select from among Miller and Limbaugh or another candidate, or candidates, who might not have publicly expressed an interest. But if the Democratic governor selects either Limbaugh or Miller, it will be the first time Nixon will have selected a Republican to serve as a prosecuting attorney.

The only Democrat who had said he was interested, criminal defense attorney Bryan Greaser, dropped out of consideration Saturday, saying it makes no sense to, in effect, suspend his private practice for two years when Cape Girardeau County voters, who lean heavily Republican, are likely to oust him from office when the office comes up for election.

The first candidate to step forward, lawyer Allen Moss, withdrew his candidacy late last week, citing professional considerations and political concerns.

On Sunday, Miller said he was honored to receive the support of the police organization.

"I enjoy working with the men and women in law enforcement on a daily basis," he said. "I believe we both work with the same goal -- to help the residents of Cape Girardeau County feel safe and to hold people accountable for their actions."

Miller began working as an assistant prosecutor for the county on Jan. 1, 2011. A Jackson native, he received a degree from Westminster College in 2002 and attended law school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He passed the Missouri Bar in 2005, before moving to Washington to work as an aid to U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson for five years. Miller handled certain policy matters such as national defense, energy, the environment, law enforcement, taxes and transportation.

While true that Miller's opponent is only 18 months removed from law school, it may be a mistake to count him out. Limbaugh comes from a family that that includes two former county prosecutors; his father and grandfather served in the job before moving on to prominent judicial posts.

Attempts to reach Limbaugh, a lawyer at the Limbaugh Law Firm, were not successful Sunday.

While Miller may have the support of the police association, it seems that with Greaser out, Limbaugh -- whose last name is synonymous with conservative politics -- may have the support of several prominent Democratic lawyers, including John Cook.

Cook supported both Limbaugh and Greaser last week, when he said, "Chris is a young lawyer, that's true. But he's got the makings of a damn fine prosecutor and, regardless of politics, no one can say anything about the Limbaugh work ethic. I think either he or Bryan would make good prosecutors for our county."

smoyers@semissourian.com

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