New House speaker to be elected Friday

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JEFFERSON CITY - The House of Representatives was set to meet Friday to officially elect the new Speaker of the House. House Republicans met Thursday night to designate Todd Richardson (R) - Poplar Bluff to replace John Diehl as Missouri Speaker of the House.

Richardson's designation came a day after Diehl announced his resignation, following a report he exchanged sexually-suggestive text messages with a Capitol intern.

In an email released Thursday afternoon Diehl said, "I have acknowledged making a serious error in judgment by sending the text messages, it was wrong and I am truly sorry. Too often we hear leaders say they're sorry, but are unwilling to accept the consequences. I understand that, as a leader, I am responsible for my actions, and I am willing to face the consequences."

Diehl's term as Speaker of the House wasn't expected to end until 2017. This is the seventh time in Missouri history an acting House Speaker has stepped down during their term.

Fellow Republican Representative Scott Fitzpatrick praised the choice to nominate Richardson.

"He's not a micro manager and I think that that's going to benefit him and the caucus a lot," Fitzpatrick said. "He's been a born leader since the day I met him."

Fitzpatrick said there was no opposition in selecting Richardson to replace Diehl.

Richardson's father is former Minority Leader Mark Richardson, who resigned in 1997 before pleading guilty to drunk driving and child endangerment charges.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct grammatical errors and provide additional context.]