Missouri legislator, wounded in Iraq, is re-elected
November 10, 2006
WASHINGTON — A Missouri state lawmaker shot last month while serving in Baghdad with the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion won re-election to his statehouse seat on Tuesday.
Staff Sgt. Jason Brown, a reservist whose lung was punctured in the Oct. 5 ambush on his patrol, has been serving in Iraq since March. According to his staff, for the past month he has been recovering at his home in Platte City.
On Tuesday he won re-election by 56 percent to 44 percent over Democratic challenger Jared Welch, a judge advocate general officer with the Missouri Air National Guard.
Brown, a Republican who has served as a state representative since 2002, is one of 57 state legislators in the U.S. who also serve in the guard and reserves, according to a recent survey by the National Network of Legislators in the Military.
Under Defense Department rules, active-duty troops are generally prohibited from serving in elected offices such as the state legislature. However, exceptions are made for reservists and guardsmen who are called to active duty.
At least five states — Indiana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas — have passed laws letting those activated legislators appoint a temporary replacement while they’re serving overseas. But in many cases those seats remain vacant until the reservist returns.
According to the Network, the only lawmaker actually overseas for Tuesday’s election was 1st Lt. Jonathan Paton, a reserve soldier from Arizona serving as an intelligence officer in Baghdad.
Democrats challenging Paton in the campaign had criticized his decision to voluntarily deploy to Iraq, leaving his district without full representation.
Despite the political attacks, Paton, first elected in 2004, picked up 34 percent of the local vote to win one of two district seats up for election.
Brown is scheduled to return to Iraq to finish his tour later this month. His unit is scheduled to return home sometime next spring.