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Graham to run for House Majority Leader

September 04, 2001
By: Amanda Joyce
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, made an early announcement Tuesday that he will run for Majority Floor Leader for the state House for the 2003-2004 legislative session.

If Graham is reelected for 2003 he will be one of nine Democrats who has completed two consecutive terms. Term limits restrict legislators from serving more than three terms -- a fact which he said motivated him to run for the position.

"It's our responsibility as that class of '96 to step up, to become a part of leadership, and to acclimate the tremendous number of new members that will be coming into the House," he said.

If Graham is elected to the post he will be the first Democrat from Boone County to hold a leadership position in 36 years.

Citing Graham's past experience with the House, Rep. Tim Harlan, D-Columbia, said Graham would do a good job as the majority leader.

Harlan said the special legislative session, which begins Wednesday at noon, is a good reason for Graham to make the announcement when he did. Legislators will all be in one place and have the opportunity to discuss the move among themselves, he said.

"If he hadn't announced it today, he would have had to wait until December or January," Harlan added.

By making his intentions known well in advance, Graham said he can concentrate on raising money for campaigns. He added that he can help find good Democratic candidates to fill the House -- new members who will then be the ones to decide whether to elect him to the post in 2003.

"I feel it's important to get out now," Graham said. "Get out early."

Graham said issues dealing with I-70 repairs and the University of Missouri-Columbia interest him. But he insisted that he is not running on a personal or partisan agenda.

"I feel I have a good relationship with people on both sides of the aisle," he said.

Graham described the state as being at a "distinct crossroads" mainly since between 75 to 100 representatives will be new for the 2003-2004 session and the legislative districts are being redrawn.

Graham said the House will be in a rare situation for the next election.

"It will be a change that you've never seen in the history of this state," he said. "It's sort of like when the planets line up...it just doesn't happen. It's never happened."