2016 Governor | St. Louis Public Radio

2016 Governor

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is one of the more prominent Jewish political leaders in America today. For him, his response to this week’s vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City  goes hand-in-hand with his “go to the front lines” philosophy.

State Treasurer Clint Zwiefel
Courtesy of Clint Zweifel's office

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Treasurer Clint Zweifel to the program.

The Democratic statewide official was kind enough to record the show on his last working day in office. He’s departing from elective life on Monday, primarily because state treasurer is one of two statewide offices that have term limits.

Reny Alfonso, 7, carries American flag pinwheels at the "Forward Together" bus tour kickoff event outside the Missouri History Museum Sunday afternoon.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Out of the seemingly infinite adjectives to describe politics in 2016, the one that came to mind is exhausting.

This year featured enough twists, turns, surprises, setbacks, revelations, triumphs and defeats to fill a set of encyclopedias. From competitive presidential and statewide primaries to epic general election battles, 2016 will clearly be remembered as a watershed year in the Show Me State's political history.

Peter Kinder December 2016
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder back to the show for the third time.

Originally from Cape Girardeau, Kinder is rounding out roughly 24 years in elected state government. He served three terms in the Missouri Senate, eventually becoming the first GOP Senate President Pro Tem in generations. Many Republicans credit Kinder for turning a largely Democratic Senate into a Republican stronghold. 

Incoming House Budget Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, is warning of tough budgetary choices ahead for Gov.-elect Eric Greitens.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

As noted last week, Gov.-elect Eric Greitens will have a lot of latitude to bring about major policy changes – thanks to huge Republican majorities in the General Assembly. But it’s becoming abundantly clear that Greitens will encounter more than just the glory of legislative accomplishment when he’s sworn in next year.

That’s because both Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the House Budget Committee believe Greitens will have to dive into the not-so-fun task of withholding tens of millions of dollars from Missouri’s budget. It will be first big governmental test for Greitens, who has no elected experience.

Gov.-elect Eric Greitens shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, last week.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the Thursday after his resounding victory in the Missouri governor’s race, Eric Greitens spent the morning at the Missouri Capitol meeting with Gov. Jay Nixon and huddling up with the Senate Republican supermajority. Greitens ended up shaking lots of hands of fellow Republicans who could help make his campaign agenda into the laws of the land. 

When he stepped into the Capitol hallways, Greitens could hardly contain his enthusiasm about the months ahead.

Eric Greitens addresses the crowd at his victory party on Nov. 9, 2016.
File photo| Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republicans won big Tuesday, sweeping all statewide offices and putting the party almost totally in charge of the Missouri Capitol beginning in January.

And in part, they have Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to thank. His Missouri coattails of 20 percentage points arguably provided a strong wind at the GOP’s back.

St. Louis resident Jonathan Pulphus votes at Patrick Henry Elementary School on Sept. 16, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s long, weird, sad, contentious, explosive and unpredictable election cycle is almost over.

In roughly 24 hours, Missourians from Tarkio to New Madrid will head to the polls. Beyond registering their presidential preferences, the good people of our state will decide on pivotal U.S. Senate and governor’s races. They’ll also choose who fills out practically and politically important statewide offices and figure out how large the GOP majorities in the Missouri General Assembly will be after January.

Eric Greitens, left, and Chris Koster with images of money
Jason Rosenbaum and Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s $45 million and counting for Missouri’s two major-party nominees for governor as they head into the home stretch.

That’s how much Democrat Chris Koster and Republican Eric Greitens have raised, as of Friday, in their record-setting battle. So far, they’ve spent close to $36 million (some of it before the Aug. 2 primary.)

Eric Greitens, Missouri's GOP candidate for governor, embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during a get-out-the-vote rally in Chesterfield.
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker headlined a parade of Missouri Republican candidates who exhorted local allies Sunday to do all they can to help generate a GOP sweep on Nov. 8.

“If you’re going to turn the country around, first off, you need to do it in the states,” said Walker, who was campaigning primarily on behalf of Eric Greitens, Missouri’s GOP nominee for governor. Greitens is locked in a tight contest with his Democratic rival, Attorney General Chris Koster.

Walker traveled Sunday with Greitens and other Missouri candidates to the state’s most-populous regions – Springfield, Kansas City and St. Louis. The blitz came about 48 hours after Vice President Joe Biden held a St. Louis rally aimed at energizing Democrats.

Gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster became the first Democrat endorsed by the Missouri Farm Bureau for a statewide office.
File Photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Nine years ago, Chris Koster was a state senator, a former Cass County prosecutor and a rising star within the Missouri Republican Party. Many speculated he would eventually run for governor.

And now he is running for governor, but as a Democrat.

Koster switched parties in 2007,  a stunning move that has set the course for his unusual political career.  He remains the highest-profile politician in Missouri, at least in modern times, to have made such a move

Missouri Republican gubernatorial nominee Eric Greitens gestures during a speech in Overland, Missouri.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s mid-afternoon in a VFW Hall in Overland, and Eric Greitens has a room full of veterans at full attention. Two Medal of Honor recipients, Michael Thornton and Thomas Norris, just introduced Greitens, and he’s about to provide the crowd with details about his newest mission: Becoming governor of Missouri.

On campaign stops like these, the uniform of the former Navy SEAL is often a blazer, an Oxford-cloth shirt with no tie, and jeans. His speech delivery is disciplined, sharp and deliberate: At town halls and debates, Greitens argues that Jefferson City’s political class has faltered and failed.

Hillary Clinton St. Louis union dec. 2015
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is sending $500, 000 into Missouri to aid U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander and gubernatorial nominee Chris Koster.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Monday the campaign is assisting Koster and Kander even though it acknowledges that Republican Donald Trump is expected to carry the state. The money is to be spent on radio ads, fliers and digital advertising.

Eric Greitens, left, and Chris Koster
Carolina Hidalgo and Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens, Missouri’s Republican nominee for governor, launched a barrage of aggressive attacks against Democrat Chris Koster during the duo’s first joint appearance. But it’s unclear if any of those verbal shots did political damage.

The two were among all five Missouri candidates for governor who participated Friday in a one-hour forum in Branson hosted by the Missouri Press Association.

Greitens, a former Navy SEAL and author, took aim at Koster’s 20-year political career as a county prosecutor, state senator and currently Missouri’s attorney general. Greitens contended that Koster was part of the “serial corruption’’ in state government.

At left, Kristin Sosanie of the Missouri Democratic Party criticizes Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens. Greitens' former opponent, Catherine Hanaway, goes after Democrat Chris Koster.
Hannah Westerman and Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Amid dueling news conferences held in the same building, Missouri’s two major candidates for governor are accusing each other of giving short-shrift to women, especially when it comes to sex trafficking and domestic violence.

Both candidates – Democrat Chris Koster and Republican Eric Greitens – were accused of displaying poor judgment on women’s issues and of accepting money from donors with questionable character when it comes to the treatment of women.

Eric Greitens, left, and Chris Koster with images of money
Jason Rosenbaum and Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen much of Missouri’s statewide candidates on the road this week, here’s the answer: They’re probably on the phone.

Friday is the money-raising deadline for the last major campaign-finance reports due before the Nov. 8 election. Although money can still be collected afterward, the reports – officially due Oct. 17 – often are seen as a way to create momentum for the final few weeks before the public heads to the polls.

Former Missouri State Auditor Susan Montee
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome former state Auditor Susan Montee to the program.

Montee is a former St. Joseph councilwoman and Buchanan County auditor who successful sought the office of state auditor in 2006. One of her selling points was the fact that she was both a certified public accountant and an attorney.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster greets attendees at the Truman Dinner, the Missouri Democratic Party's annual gathering.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Some have described the National Rifle Association’s decision to endorse Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Koster over GOP hopeful Eric Greitens as surprising or out of the blue. But for people who pay attention to how the group endorses candidates, Koster’s endorsement was actually quite predictable.

That’s because the NRA typically backs candidates with definitive voting records (like Koster) over political newcomers (like Greitens). It’s exactly what happened in 2012, when the NRA backed Koster’s re-election bid for attorney general over Republican nominee Ed Martin.

Eric Greitens, the victor of Missouri’s four-way Republican battle for governor, spent just over $10 million to win his party’s nomination.

The final campaign-finance reports for the Aug. 2 primary, due Thursday, show the four spent a combined total of $27.1 million — a record in Missouri for a statewide primary contest. The final spending almost mirrored the candidates’ election finish.

Paul Wieland
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome back state Sen. Paul Wieland to the program.

The Republican from Imperial was previously a guest on the show when he was running against Democrat Jeff Roorda for the 22nd District Senate seat. Wieland won the so-called “Battle For JeffCo” by a sizable margin, a victory that expanded the Republican Senate majority.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, left, speaks with Attorney General Chris Koster earlier this month at the Missouri State Fair. Nixon criticized Koster for a statement the Democratic gubernatorial nominee made about school funding.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is taking major issue with a statement issued on Friday by Attorney General Chris Koster about public school funding.

What prompted the governor's response is a statement that Koster’s office released reacting to reports about lead in drinking water at St. Louis Public Schools. In that statement, Koster said the “drinking-water contamination reported this week in St. Louis schools is an unintended — but significant — consequence of the repeated refusal to invest in education and infrastructure.”

Eric Greitens, left, and Chris Koster
Carolina Hidalgo and Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On television, Missouri’s two major candidates for governor — Democrat Chris Koster and Republican Eric Greitens — pretend their rival doesn’t exist.

Both men are running pleasant biographical ads that highlight the best of their respective personal and professional backgrounds.

Koster, currently the Missouri attorney general, emphasizes his experience as a prosecutor, and his commitment to fiscal discipline. Greitens, who is making his first bid for public office, recounts his past as a Navy SEAL, and the success of a nonprofit he helped establish, called The Mission Continues, to help returning veterans.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, center, with Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, right, at area high school during height of unrest in Ferguson.
Missouri Attorney General's Office | File photo

If you’ve paying attention to the discourse in the race for Missouri governor, you’ve probably heard a lot about what Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Koster didn’t do during the unrest in Ferguson in 2014.

In fact, several Republican gubernatorial hopefuls accused Koster of being “absent” during the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death. It's the type of message that serves a dual purpose of questioning Koster's commitment to law enforcement and leadership skills. (Republican gubernatorial nominee Eric Greitens told a swarm of reporters after he won the GOP primary that Koster “failed to show up and to lead in Ferguson.”)

It will be up to Missouri voters to decide whether Koster's actions in Ferguson two years ago were effective. But it’s inaccurate to say that Koster was “absent."

Attorney General Chris Koster speaks to reporters at the Saint Louis Police Officers Association hall on Tuesday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster accepted the endorsement of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, he provided them with an unambiguous message: Under his gubernatorial administration, police officers around the state will have his unwavering support.

Eric Greitens, left, and Chris Koster
Carolina Hidalgo and Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been less than two weeks since Missouri voters chose nominees for governor. And it’s fair to say that neither candidate wasted much time in fashioning their general election message — or sharply questioning their opponent’s worthiness.

This reporter spent the past few days watching and listening to Chris Koster and Eric Greitens' post-primary speeches. And from what the two men are saying on the stump, Missourians are in for a very contentious campaign — and discourse that may appear familiar.

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Chris Koster talks with supporters on Saturday in St. Louis. Koster says he's opposed to school vouchers, but is amenable to charter schools.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Even before he became governor, Jay Nixon drew a hard line in the sand: If the Missouri General Assembly passed any bill that Nixon felt transferred public dollars to private schools, he would veto that legislation. He followed through on that promise in 2014, when the General Assembly approved changes to Missouri’s school transfer law that, among other things, allowed children in unaccredited school districts to go to certain nonsectarian, private schools.

Whether that “line” remains, however, depends on who replaces Nixon in the governor’s office.

 Eric Greitens, Republican, left, and Chris Koster, Democrat
Jason Rosenbaum and Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens has emerged victorious from a bruising, four-way contest to be the Republican nominee for governor. He will face Attorney General Chris Koster, 51, who coasted to win the Democratic primary.

John Brunner tilts his head back as Eric Greitens speaks at St. Louis Public Radio's GOP gubernatorial candidate debate.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA – You could say that Missouri’s 2016 primary cycle was a bit unwieldy.

This election has everything: An unpredictable and incredibly expensive governor’s race, statewide contests that turned thermonuclear nasty, and high-stakes legislative contests. For St. Louis voters, there’s a critical four-way race for circuit attorney and even a scramble for sheriff.

St. Louis Public Radio file images

Tomorrow's primary election is notable for the divisive and expensive ads (especially for the Republican races for governor and attorney general). But voters have a lot of choices to make all the way down the ballot.

In the months before the primary, all of the major candidates for statewide office appeared on our Politically Speaking podcast. For those who haven't yet discovered it, the podcast is a place where politicians talk about issues and introduce themselves to listeners in an informal setting. Below, you will find links to each of those podcasts and more

The primary election is Tuesday.
File photos

(Updated with Greitens' rally and new Koster donation) Missouri’s four-way Republican battle for governor is getting roiled with last-minute attacks ads and fliers by outside groups – including one with Democratic ties.

According to the online news site Politico, a group called “Jobs and Opportunity" is launching a barrage of TV ads over the weekend that attack Eric Greitens, an author and former Navy SEAL who is the best-funded of the four GOP candidates. 

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