Gov. Mike Parson on Monday appointed Missouri Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, to be the state’s new lieutenant governor.
Parson held the role of lieutenant governor under former Gov. Eric Greitens. The office has been vacant since Greitens resigned and Parson became governor on June 1.
“I did not start with a list of names,” Parson said of his decision to appoint Kehoe. “Instead, I started with a list of characteristics: humility, experience, leadership, a willingness to learn from adversaries and the heart of a public servant. When I considered all of these things, there was one person who clearly emerged — Mike Kehoe.”
The appointment has raised legal uncertainty. Missouri’s constitution does not clearly spell out whether the governor has authority to appoint the lieutenant governor, The Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, state law says any vacant elected office at the state or county level should be filled through appointment by the governor, but the law excludes from that mandate the offices of “lieutenant governor, state senator or representative, sheriff, or recorder of deeds in the city of St. Louis.”
Kelli Jones, Parson’s press secretary, said Monday that the governor’s office had no comment in response to questions about the law regarding lieutenant governor appointments.
The lieutenant governor’s duties include presiding as president over the senate, filling in if the governor is absent and overseeing numerous boards and commissions.
“The Lieutenant Governor position is an important position, not just because of duties assigned by Missouri law and the state constitution, but also to reassure Missourians that all operations of state government will continue,” Parson said.
Kehoe, a St. Louis native who has worked at and owned auto dealerships, got his start in government in 2005, when then-Gov. Matt Blunt asked him to serve on Missouri’s Highway and Transportation Commission. He has served in the Missouri Senate since 2010 but cannot seek re-election in the Senate due to term limits.