JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House Republicans opted for their chamber's current majority leader to be their 2015 nominee for speaker.
Meeting privately during Wednesday's veto override session, House Republicans sided with Majority Leader John Diehl, of Town and Country, who had been challenged by Rep. Caleb Jones, of California, Mo.
The House speaker is the top position in the 163-member House and is officially elected by the chamber on the first day of each biennial session. But the Republicans currently hold 109 seats and assume their nominee will win. Under a tradition begun several terms ago, Republicans have picked their next nominee for speaker more than a year before the election to give the person time to prepare for the job. Republicans have controlled the state House since 2003.
Current House Speaker Tim Jones, of Eureka, is barred by term-limits from running for re-election to the House in 2014. Both Jones and his immediate predecessor, Steven Tilley, served as majority leader before becoming speaker. Tim Jones and Caleb Jones are cousins.
House Republicans also had a leadership competition in 2007 to determine who would take over the speaker's office in January 2009. Ron Richard, of Joplin, beat Allen Icet, of Wildwood.