Eric Greitens | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens

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.

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

Missouri’s two major candidates for governor disagree on many things. But Democrat Chris Koster and Republican Eric Greitens do share similar views on the dueling tobacco-tax hike proposals on the Nov. 8 ballot. They oppose both of them.

That opposition could be significant, since whoever is elected governor will likely have significant roles in implementation of any of the six ballot measures that go before voters. Here’s a rundown on where Greitens and Koster stand on those issues, including some of their observations.

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.

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

The latest campaign finance reports show that Democrat Chris Koster is heading into the final weeks of the campaign for Missouri governor with far more money in the bank than Republican Eric Greitens. But the numbers aren’t up to date.

The reports, due Monday, show Koster with $6.58 million on hand. That compares to $2.7 million for Greitens. But those totals are only through Sept. 30. Since then, Greitens has gotten $6.5 million from the Republican Governors Association and Koster has collected at least $1 million from various labor groups.

Ann Wagner
St. Louis Regional Chamber | File photo

With Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in crisis mode one day before a pivotal debate in St. Louis, at least two area GOP officials want their party's nominee to step aside.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, and Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, both released statements on Saturday pulling their support for Trump. Their retractions came a little less than a day after the Washington Post’s explosive story detailing Trump’s vulgar comments about women that were captured on tape in 2005.

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.

State Rep. Justin Alferman speaks at the microphone during Wednesday's veto session. Lawmakers overrode Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of Alferman's photo idenitifcation bill.
Provided | Tim Bommel I House Communications

If you judge a successful veto session by how many bills are overturned, then Wednesday’s gathering was like a college football blowout.

That’s because the GOP majority was able to outflank Gov. Jay Nixon and his Democratic compatriots in the legislature on more than a dozen measures, including a bill that would implement a photo identification requirement to vote should a proposed constitutional amendment pass and another that makes it easier to conceal and carry a weapon. Unlike previous years, there was little drama – or much apprehension about squelching Democratic filibusters.

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.

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.

Now that the 2016 primaries are in the books, most people are looking ahead to what could be an expensive and contentious general election cycle.

But before Tuesday becomes part of Missouri political history, perhaps it’s worth answering the 10 questions posed before voters went to the polls. After all, it wouldn’t be very useful to throw out errant questions without answering them.

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.

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. 

Money gift
Flickr

With a week left to go, Missouri’s four Republican candidates for governor are engaging in a final money-raising – and spending – frenzy.

Just since July 1, the four – former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and businessman John Brunner – combined have raised almost $6 million and spent more than $10 million.

Most of that spending is for the mass of TV ads that are flooding Missouri homes.

Peter Kinder answers a question during St. Louis Public Radio's GOP gubernatorial candidate debate.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Fans of Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder are hoping that his campaign for governor embodies the axiom of “it’s a sprint, not a marathon.”

As St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies reported last week, Kinder generally lagged behind the other three GOP gubernatorial hopefuls in the latest fundraising quarter. He also spent the least amount of money, which means he’s been on statewide television much less than the other three Republican candidates.

(Updated) Three weeks to go before the Aug. 2 primary, Missouri’s GOP candidates are hitting the road — and doubling down on the negatives.

The four Republican candidates for Missouri governor kicked off their debate Wednesday night with a variety of statements about the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion. KCUR fact-checked some of those statements. Here’s what we found:

Catherine Hanaway:

Catherine Hanaway looks on as Eric Greitens speaks at St. Louis Public Radio's GOP gubernatorial candidate debate.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If Missourians tuned into their NPR affiliated station Wednesday night expecting an easy-going session from Lake Wobegon, they were in for a big surprise.

That’s because the debate between Missouri’s four GOP hopefuls for governor was a, dare I say, lively event. It came as Catherine Hanaway, Eric Greitens, John Brunner and Peter Kinder head into the final stretch of the high-stakes and expensive campaign.

Peter Kinder, Catherine Hanaway, John Brunner and Eric Greitens speak at St. Louis Public Radio's GOP gubernatorial candidate debate.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

With time slipping away, Missouri’s four Republican candidates are heightening their attacks — in person and in their ads — as they head into the final stretch before the Aug. 2 primary.

By even their own accounts, Wednesday’s debate at St. Louis Public Radio’s studio – and broadcast by public radio stations around the state — appeared to be their liveliest. And the nastiest.

Eric Greitens, John Brunner, Catherine Hanaway and Peter Kinder are campaigning to become Missouri's GOP gubernatorial candidate.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On July 6, St. Louis Public Radio will host a live debate with the Missouri candidates running to become the GOP candidate-of-choice in the August 2 primary for governor.

The LG PAC is airing an ad attacking Missouri Republican gubernatorial hopeful John Brunner.
Screen capture | YouTube

Missouri’s four Republican candidates for governor each claim to be shocked by the emergence of a new political group, LG PAC, that has launched a $1 million TV ad campaign this week.

That spending is more than all of the state’s gubernatorial candidates have spent on TV so far -- combined.  LG PAC also is just the latest of a series of groups, with unknown donors, that are spending money to aid or attack Missouri’s statewide candidates.

Updated Monday, June 6, with details on Eric Greitens' first TV ad — After raising money for months, or even years, it’s now time for many Missouri candidates to start spending it.

That’s particularly true in the state’s four-way GOP contest for governor, where the contenders are launching their final two-month sprint to woo voters for the Aug. 2 primary.

As of Monday, St. Louis area voters will start seeing more TV ads.

Eric Greitens, one of four Missouri GOP candidates for governor, sought Sunday night to clarify his position when it comes to a proposed Missouri law that would bar government penalties against “individuals and religious entities who refuse to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies due to sincerely held religious beliefs.”

During a candidate forum at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Greitens said his opposition to the measure — known as Senate Joint Resolution 39 — stems from its approach, not its aim. Greitens said he wants Missouri to avoid the economic backlash that has hurt socially conservative states like North Carolina and Mississippi, which recently passed laws deemed anti-gay.

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