Parson appoints KC Democrat to tax commission. A new candidate emerges to replace him

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Friday appointed Democratic Sen. Greg Razer from Kansas City to the State Tax Commission. Minutes later, a new exploratory committee emerged aimed at a possible candidacy to succeed Razer with his backing.

If the Missouri Senate votes to confirm Razer’s appointment, he would have to vacate his seat in the Senate — leaving his Jackson County district without a senator. Razer, first elected to the Senate in 2020 after previously serving in the House, had filed to run for reelection this year.

Less than 30 minutes after Parson’s announcement, Pat Contreras, a member of various Kansas City-area boards, announced his creation of an exploratory committee to succeed Razer pending the Senate’s confirmation. The announcement included Razer’s endorsement.

“Sen. Greg Razer has had a career defined by service to the people of Missouri and I am excited to see that continue in his next role,” Contreras said in a statement. “I have felt the same call to service throughout my life, and have always answered it – both in the public and private arenas. Now, with so many critical issues facing Missouri, I feel called to stand up and serve once again.”

The last day for candidate filings already passed last month. But Missouri law requires that, if an incumbent candidate withdraws, then the filing window for that seat reopens for five days, according to a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office.

Parson’s appointment of Razer was unexpected.

The Kansas City Democrat has been one of the most visible Democratic leaders during his time in the Senate. The only openly gay member of the Senate, Razer has railed against anti-LGBTQ legislation and last year spearheaded a lengthy filibuster against a Republican-led bill that banned gender-affirming care for minors. The bill ultimately passed.

Razer, in a statement posted on social media, said he was “honored and humbled” by the appointment.

“If confirmed by my colleagues in the Senate I will continue my public service for all Missourians with the same dedication as I have done for the past eight years,” he said. “My commitment today remains on my duties as State Senator, representing the interests of the 7th District, the cities of Kansas City and Grandview, along with our state as a whole.”

The Missouri State Tax Commission is in charge of measuring the accuracy of assessments in each county and works with assessors across the state. Razer’s appointment comes at a time as Jackson County’s property assessment have faced intense scrutiny due to massive increases.

Contreras, in a news release, touted support from various Kansas City-area leaders including U.S. Rep Emanuel Cleaver, Mayor Quinton Lucas and former Secretary of State Jason Kannder.

After unsuccessfully running for state treasurer in 2016, Contreras has worked as an executive at McCownGordon Construction, a Kansas City-based construction firm, according to a news release.

He has also served on various boards and commissions, including the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Board, the Downtown Council, the board of University Health and as chair of the Kansas City, MO Committee of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.