JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — One of the first Republican legislators to publicly suggest impeaching former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will face a Democrat who tried to tie him to the scandal-plagued governor in a special election, just four days after Greitens resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign violations.
The election Tuesday to pick a replacement for former GOP state Sen. Ryan Silvey was already viewed as a potential political barometer for Missouri ahead of the midterms, but Greitens' abrupt departure last week injects additional meaning into the race between two state representatives.
Republican Kevin Corlew and Democrat Lauren Arthur both positioned themselves as Greitens critics long before his resignation, which happened as the Legislature considered impeachment. Corlew took a stronger stance against Greitens than most of his GOP colleagues when he released a statement in April saying that the House should "seriously consider impeachment."
However, a commercial from Arthur's campaign says: "Jefferson City is corrupt, and politicians like Eric Greitens and Kevin Corlew are the problem."
The vacancy was triggered in January when Silvey was appointed to the Missouri Public Service Commission.
Silvey, himself a frequent critic of Greitens, leaves behind a suburban Kansas City seat that provides both parties with some reason for optimism. In 2016, voters in Clay County, where it's located, backed Republicans Greitens for governor and Donald Trump for president while picking Democrat Jason Kander for U.S. Senate. In 2012 they favored Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney while backing Democratic incumbents Claire McCaskill for Senate and Jay Nixon for governor.
"The district is relatively purple," said Allan Katz, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a former U.S. ambassador. "It sort of evolves into a turnout race."
Silvey, who represented the district from 2012 to January, said the area was a microcosm of the state: Blue-collar and white-collar voters, $5 million houses and mobile homes, young families and retirees.
Overt partisanship didn't work with voters there, he said.
Both candidates have pledged to bring an independent voice to the Senate. Arthur often references her experience teaching middle school when pushing for more school funding. Corlew has drawn on his experience as an attorney when sponsoring legislation to protect businesses. Both voted against banning mandatory union fees.
The district is in a region north of downtown that is similar to areas targeted by Democrats attempting to re-take the U.S. House and Senate. There have been nine special elections for state's General Assembly since Trump won the presidency, and Democrats have already flipped one House seat.