Bearden’s departure leaves a further void in top House leadership. House Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles and the No. 3 ranking House member, is running in a Sept. 4 special election for the Senate in a heavily Republican district. On the Democratic side, House Minority Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, will step down from his leadership post in September to pursue a 2008 bid for Missouri attorney general. Harris will retain his House seat through 2008.
Bearden was first elected to the House in 2000. Term limits prevent him from seeking re-election next year. Gov. Matt Blunt will have to call a special election to fill Bearden’s seat.