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Brunner announces he's running for Missouri governor

Jason Rosenbaum|St. Louis Public Radio

The Republican field for Missouri governor has grown larger. St. Louis businessman John Brunner announced his candidacy this morning in a pre-recorded YouTube video.

"My entire life experience has prepared me for this mission; I am ready to serve," Brunner said in the video.  "America can be reclaimed one state at a time, and it begins right here in Missouri!"

Brunner, 63, joins a crowded Republican field for governor. It includes Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, state Sen. Bob Dixon, former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway and fellow businessman and former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens.

Attorney General Chris Koster is expected to be the sole Democrat running for governor. He has yet to officially announce his intentions.

Brunner has never held elected office, but it's not his first foray into politics, as he finished a close second to Todd Akin four years ago in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

"We're gonna build a bigger grass-roots organization this time," Brunner said, "and frankly the message of an outside businessperson as governor, as CEO (of the state) ... this is a compelling story."

After defeating Brunner, Akin lost in November 2012 to Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill after his "legitimate rape" comment.

Brunner's platform

So far, Brunner's campaign for Missouri governor is centering on four bullet points:

  • Job creation
  • Education reform
  • Ethics reform
  • Fighting "unnecessary and burdensome" federal regulations

Brunner cites his experience running Vi-Jon, the company founded by his grandparents that produces the Germ-X brand of hand sanitizers and other personal care products.
"I'll reach out to fellow business leaders across the country," Brunner said in his official announcement, "talking manufacturer to manufacturer, to convince them that Missouri will be the right place for them to build and grow their business. I'll tear down the barriers to opportunity and promote Missouri as an economic freedom zone."

He also cited his experience as a Marine Corps officer as giving him the necessary leadership skills to serve as governor.

On education, Brunner is opposed to Common Core, which he labels as a "top-down, one size fits all" bureaucratic system championed by "(President Barack) Obama, (Gov. Jay) Nixon and Koster.

"Local school boards, parents and teachers need to be back in charge," Brunner said.  "Teachers need the freedom to teach. With three generations of teachers in my family … I know this works."

On ethics reform, Brunner said that Jefferson City needs to earn back the respect of Missourians.

"On day one, for every agency under my control I'll ban all travel junkets and all gifts to all members of my administration – and end the revolving door of influence pedaling," Brunner said.  "I'll call on the General Assembly and other statewide officers to do the same for their departments. And if the legislature won't pass my tough new ethics laws, then I'll lead the effort to place an initiative on the ballot."

Brunner did not specify, though, whether those ethics reforms should include campaign contribution limits, but he seemed to suggest that such limits would mainly benefit incumbents with strong name recognition.

"In our business it would be a brand like Listerine or Coca Cola having brand ID," Brunner said.  "You want to be able to ensure that those who are challenging the incumbents have the opportunity to challenge the incumbents."

Brunner also called the recent scandals over the treatment of legislative interns "disgusting," and indicated that future policy positions on ethics may address that issue.

On federal regulations, Brunner seems to be touting the same message as the Republican majorities in the Missouri House and Senate.

"As governor, I will fight in court – and through every other means available – the unfunded federal mandates and extreme, burdensome regulations," he said in his official statement.  "These mandates hurt our farmers, manufacturers, and businesses. They raise family utility bills and kill good jobs."

And if the GOP is able to win control of the state attorney general's office next year, Brunner added, "we'll team-up to fight the regulators and kick them back across the Potomac – where they belong."

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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