Rory Ellinger, one of the most progressive Democrats in Missouri's house of representatives, has formally announced he will not run for re-election in 2015 owing to health issues.
The announcement comes less than a week after he announced that he had filed for re-election. But the 72-year-old U. City Democrat says his doctor recommended that he focus on his health, so he decided to withdraw his name from contention.
"For the past four years I have been privileged to represent the people of Missouri's 86th District in the General Assembly," he said in a statement posted on Facebook Monday. "I have had the pleasure of working with dedicated public servants on both sides of the aisle and community leaders and activists in the communities that comprise the 86th District."
Ellinger says he will finish out the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2015.
A lawyer and civil-rights advocate for 30 years before turning to politics, Ellinger has built a reputation as one of the most liberal voices in the House, being consistent on issues like gun control and marijuana reform.
He took a lot of heat from Missourians for his attempt to institute HB 545, an assault-weapons ban that would have prohibited the sale, manufacture, importation and eventually possession of any such firearm. The attempt was more about making a point than making a law, and it had no chance of passing the anti-gun control House. In fact, Republicans literally shot the bill down.
Ellinger also made headway on marijuana reform by continually introducing several bills. Last summer, he introduced the state's first legalization bill, which would have restructured Missouri's laws to be similar to Colorado's. Before that, he introduced a decriminalization bill.
The legislation never got anywhere owing to House members who lack a certain level of sophistication, but Ellinger has continued to press the issue. This year, he plans to introduce a medical-marijuana bill, but the head of the judiciary committee, Republican Representative Stanley Cox, has yet to give it a hearing, despite publicly saying that he would be in favor of an "up and down vote" on marijuana reform.
Ellinger even recently called out Cox on Twitter:
But Cox has yet to respond.
Being one of the few progressive voices in the House, Ellinger admits that he hasn't been able to get much legislation through. But in his statement Monday, he said that his vote still matters, and he hopes his successor continues to be a voice that adequately represents what could be Missouri's most progressive district:
"In 2013 had just a very few votes changed, HB 253 would be in place today, bankrupting public education. Had a single vote changed, today we would criminalize law enforcement officers who enforced federal laws regarding machine guns. Had one vote changed we would institutionalize conspiracy theories regarding sharia law and the United Nations. When votes on legislation have razor thin margins, each individual vote becomes more, not less important."
Click on the next page for Ellinger's full statement...
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