Governor Blunt has not called a special election to fill the vacancy left by House member Tom Dempsey in the 18th district when Dempsey won the senatorial seat last September.

Why not?

Blunt has already scheduled a special election for the 16th, Carl Bearden’s seat,  in February on the MO Presidential Primary date, so scheduling one for the eighteenth would not have cost the taxpayers an extra dime, and it would mean that the citizens in district 18 would be represented in the House for 2008.  Of course there would still be the need to fill the full two year term with another vote in November along with all the house seats.

When the senate seat in St. Charles needed to be filled late last summer, Blunt called a special election in a jiffy–at a cost of $200,000 to the state–for six weeks later.  Dempsey’s House seat will have been empty for five months come February.

So I ask again, why hasn’t the governor called a special election?  The answer is that he knows Dems have a very good chance to win that seat with the good people they have who want to run on the Dem ticket if the election were held in February–and because the Republicans are not united about whom to run.

They have two candidates who want the nod and who have formed their own campaign committees.   Matthew Seeds is a 25 year old who has worked as a legislative aide for Cynthia Davis.  Ann Zerr has worked for Democrat Joan Kelly Horn, for the St. Charles County EDC, and for St. Charles County government in their communications department.  Neither one would unite the currently divided Republican activists.    If the election had been called for February, the Republican Central Committee would have had to choose one.  The disgruntled losers might have either failed to vote or even voted for the Democrat.

Now that the deadline for setting the special election has passed, the two may have to duke it out in a primary–or better yet, as far as Republicans are concerned, one might drop out before then.  In either of those scenarios, the losers won’t blame the Republican Central Committee and are less likely to act like sore losers.

So it’s smart politics for Matt Blunt to leave the seat vacant–not particularly fair to the voters in that district, but the smart way to play it.