Missouri House GOP pick new floor leader, speaker pro tem at post-election caucus

Senate Republicans, Democrats from both chambers, will caucus Thursday to select leaders for 2023

By: - November 9, 2022 4:12 pm

State Rep. Jonathan Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, speaks during Missouri House floor debate in March 2021. Patterson was chosen Wednesday to be the next House Majority Leader (Tim Bommel/Missouri House Commuincations)

Missouri House Republicans chose a Kansas City-area lawmaker as majority floor leader Wednesday and a southeast Missouri representative as the caucus nominee for speaker pro tem in a post-election meeting in the Capitol.

State Rep. Jonathan Patterson of Lee’s Summit, who will be starting his third term in January, was chosen to serve as  majority leader. Patterson defeated Rep. Mike Haffner of Pleasant Hill in the vote, held behind closed doors in the Missouri House chamber.

State Rep. Mike Henderson of Desloge prevailed in a three-way contest for the nomination to be speaker pro tem.

The majority floor leader is second only to the Speaker of the House in power in the chamber. The speaker determines when bills will be sent to committee and placed on the calendar for floor debate but the floor leader decides which bills will get debate time during floor sessions.

Under term limits, House members get four two-year terms and that means regular rotation of leadership. Republicans, who have held the majority in the Missouri House since 2003, select their nominee for speaker more than a year in advance of the general election and meet to select other leaders the day after voters make their choices.


Rep. Dean Plocher of St. Louis, the current majority floor leader, was chosen last year as the GOP’s next speaker nominee.

The nominations for speaker and speaker pro-tem have to be ratified by the full House in January. With Republicans holding 111 of 163 seats, the ratification vote will be a formality.

Patterson, a surgeon, was elected in 2018 and has two terms left, including the one that starts in January. Henderson, a retired educator, was first elected in 2016 and the upcoming term will be his last.

With large majorities in both chambers, factionalism has become difficult to restrain for GOP leaders. While it has been kept to a minimum in the House, surfacing most notably during last year’s battle over congressional redistricting, it has been a far bigger problem in the state Senate.

Whether a Senate Republican faction that called itself the conservative caucus is now the controlling GOP group in the upper chamber will be known Thursday. Senate Republicans will caucus to nominate a president pro tem for the upper chamber, as well as select the majority floor leader for 2023.

Democrats from both chambers will also meet Thursday to select their leaders for the coming term. The current Democratic leaders, Sen. John Rizzo of Independence and Rep. Crystal Quade of Springfield, are expected to retain their positions without opposition.

As he left the caucus Wednesday, Plocher said he doesn’t think factions will be a big problem in the House over the next two years.

“We are going to come together,” Plocher said. “I don’t think we are really split. I know (Patterson and Henderson) are going to work well with the caucus.”

Patterson won re-election Tuesday with 54.3% of the vote in his Jackson County district. His race was one of 19 where the margin of victory was less than 10% under new redistricting maps produced after the 2020 census. In the 2020 election, only 11 seats were decided by a margin of less than 10%.


In an interview, Patterson said he spent many days on the road securing votes from his colleagues. 

“I can’t even count, but I like to think I visited the vast majority of them in their districts and got to meet with them, learning about the issues that matter to them, learn about their districts to make me a better floor leader,” he said.

Like Plocher, Patterson downplayed differences in the caucus. He said he does not expect serious problems with factions in the House.

“The nice thing about the House is we are able to work out those differences in a collegial manner and not have those difficult fights,” Patterson said.

Patterson has sponsored bills to make addiction-fighting medications more accessible and to extend coverage under a special Medicaid program for women who have given birth from 60 days to one year. He said his agenda for 2023 will be to get caucus priorities passed.

“My goals are to advance the prerogatives of the majority party and I look forward to getting started,” Patterson said.

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Rudi Keller
Rudi Keller

Rudi Keller covers the state budget and the legislature. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he spent 22 of his 32 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics for the Columbia Daily Tribune, where he won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.