Limbaugh appointed as Cape Girardeau County prosecutor

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Drawing from the ranks of a famous family already awash in legal laurels, Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday named Christopher K. Limbaugh as Cape Girardeau County's next prosecuting attorney.

Limbaugh, who expects to be sworn in sometime after Jan. 1, will be the third generation of his family to hold the post. Limbaugh is a cousin of popular conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

In recent days there were rumblings that Limbaugh was going to get the job, but he said the call from the governor Monday afternoon caught him unaware.

Christopher Limbaugh will be the new prosecutor in Cape Girardeau County. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Limbaugh, a Republican, on Monday, Christmas Eve. (Adam Vogler)

"Gov. Nixon said he supposed it was a nice little Christmas present for me and I said it was the best I ever had," Limbaugh said.

The appointment also means that Morley Swingle, the man who had the job longer than anyone else, will be replaced by someone just two years removed from law school.

Swingle, elected in 1986, stepped down early last month in the middle of his term to take a federal prosecutor position in the U.S. attorney's office.

Nixon expressed confidence in the 28-year-old lawyer in a news release Monday, saying Limbaugh will "ably serve the people."

For his part, Limbaugh intends to answer any questions about his experience by doing his best to keep the public safe from criminals.

"I'm grateful to the governor for the opportunity, and certainly there's big shoes to fill," Limbaugh said. "Morley ran such a fine office of competent professionals. I want to take this job and hit the ground running. I'm up to the challenge."

Nixon chose Limbaugh over two assistant prosecutors -- Frank Miller, a Republican, and independent Austin Crowe. Miller has worked under Swingle since 2010. Crowe has been an assistant prosecutor in Scott County for three years.

Limbaugh's prestigious last name could might have had something to do with Nixon's decision.

Limbaugh is the son of Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr., a federal judge and former chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court who was county prosecutor in the 1970s.

His grandfather, Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr., was a prosecutor in the 1950s before becoming a U.S. District Judge.

Limbaugh has worked for the Limbaugh Law Firm in civil and criminal law settings since passing the Missouri Bar in April 2011.

Judge Stephen Limbaugh on Monday said he was proud of his son and that he is confident he would do a good job.

"Chris is really well grounded," Judge Limbaugh said. "So much about being prosecuting attorney is about sound judgment and seeking justice in the cases and, at the same time, being aggressive. I don't have any concern at all about his performance."

Nixon never had selected a Republican to fill out the remainder of a four-year term of a departing prosecuting attorney.

Nixon's office was closed shortly after the news release was disseminated and his press secretary did not return phone calls seeking comment.

John Cook, a Democratic lawyer in Cape Girardeau, said his Christmas was made merrier when he heard of the appointment.

"Chris will approach that job with seriousness and an absolutely even-handed, nonpartisan approach," Cook said.

Democratic lawyers shied away from trying for the position. Several said they feared receiving the appointment only to lose it in two years at election time to Cape Girardeau County's largely GOP voters.

"If I can't have a good nonpartisan Democrat, then I'm very pleased with Chris," Cook said. "I don't see this as a missed opportunity at all."


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