JEFFERSON CITY - Roger Wilson now has the job he did not want. For a man who has served eight years as Missouri's lieutenant governor, Wilson has kept a relatively low profile -- until now.
Wilson, D-Columbia, is "acting governor" until confirmation of Gov. Mel Carnahan's death is announced, at which time Wilson will become governor. He will hold the position for the next three months and will appoint a new lieutenant governor for that time.
In an interview last month, Wilson said he looked forward to the end of his term, mostly as an opportunity to get out of politics for good and spend more time with his family. "That's the biggest bonus," he said.
He laughed when asked whether he would consider running for office again. "It may be a genetic defect, but I don't intend on doing it anytime soon," he said.
During the last months of his term, Wilson was already enjoying more personal time away from the state capitol. "I've had more dinners at home in the last nine months than in the last nine years," he said.
Wilson had also been working part-time for the last few months as a financial manager for Rockwood Capital Advisers of St. Louis. He planned to continue that line of work full time after the expiration of his term.
Wilson has served two terms as lieutenant governor, though his time in the post has not been distinguished by any reformative or outstanding projects. Granted, the nature of the lieutenant governor's post in Missouri does not lend itself to great projects because it holds little power.
The lieutenant governor is the traditional advocate for the elderly and young children, can break a tie vote in the Senate on all but the final votes, and is of course the successor to the governor in case of incapacity or death. But a typical critique of the office is that it is a do-nothing position, good only as a stepping-stone for those who aspire to the office of governor.
Wilson has not stepped too far out of those bounds. He typified his own accomplishments with characteristic modesty. "They're just mundane things," he said of his lobbying for the elder abuse bill in the Senate and for instituting purchasing reform to streamline state spending.
In his announcement early Tuesday morning, Wilson was visibly moved -- he took long pauses and cleared his throat as he tried to get through the statement.
"I would like to ask for permission to lean on about 5 million Missourian shoulders," he said. "Governor Carnahan was a great man, a respected man. He did so many things for so many people. I'd give anything if the confirmation did not occur."