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Libertarian Phil Horras, candidate for lieutenant governor, promises to abolish the post if elected.

August 28, 2000
By: Suzanne Bessette
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Phil Horras of Springfield is rolling 200 miles across Missouri, pushing toward what seems to many an impossible goal.

The 44-year-old small business owner has been in a wheelchair for over 10 years, the result of a spinal tumor aggravated by a military parachuting injury. But instead of holding him back, Horras' wheelchair has now become his vehicle for a political campaign tour along the Katy Trail.

Horras, the Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor, makes only one promise: if elected, he will abolish the post of lieutenant governor. "I have one plank in my platform. It's a thin platform, but it's as solid as any two-by-eight," Horras said.

Horras believes that the post of lieutenant governor is redundant, used only as a stepping stone in the careers of politicians who aspire to higher offices.

He contends that the duty of lieutenant governor to act as an advocate for the elderly and children is already taken care of by a number of government boards and departments. "They'll tell you they want to protect the elderly and early childhood development, but you know if the lieutenant governor wasn't there, somebody else would be doing that."

The lieutenant governor has the power to break tie votes in the Senate, except on the final vote. Horras believes that if a bill is not strong enough to pass by a clear majority, then it ought not be made law.

Even the lieutenant governor's position as successor to the governor is redundant, according to Horras, because the constitution stipulates a lengthy chain of succession. "The consitution says a number of times, 'if there be no lieutenant governor,' which kind of indicates that they anticipated I was going to come along," Horras said with a mischevious smile.

While Horras looks toward a future without the lieutenant governorship, his fellow candidates are ready to defend the position they are fighting for. "It's a matter of tradition," said Reform Party candidate George Weber.

Wendell Bailey, the Republican candidate, agrees with Horras to a certain extent. "It certainly doesn't work every day for good government for the people," Bailey said. "We intend to reinvent the lieutenant governorship and make it a meaningful office in the state."

The Democratic candidate, Sen. Joe Maxwell, argues that in 1992 Missourians voted to expand the role of the lieutenant governor, proving that the position is worthwhile and mandated by the people.

"Clearly, Missourians have given direct responsibility to the lieutenant governor's office to be the advocate for the most vulnerable in our society," Maxwell said.

Horras is no novice to political campaigns. He has run for senator or representative from his home district in every election since 1990. Though unsuccessful in each attempt, Horras remains optimistic and has even scored a small victory in this campaign. Stopping to talk to supporters along the Katy trail, he joked about his recent success. "There was a turtle on the way, and I smoked him."