An update on the Missouri gubernatorial election

On their way to the polls this year, Missouri voters can relish the opportunity to take part in what could be a major shift in state politics. Incumbent Jay Nixon will not be running for re-election, as dictated by gubernatorial term limits, leaving a contentious race between current state Attorney General Chris Koster (R: 2004-2007, D:2007-Present) and former Navy Seal Eric Greitens (R), who will be on the ballot next to smaller party candidates Cisse Spragins (Lib), Don Fitz (Gr) and Lester Turilli Jr. (Ind.). At stake for Missouri this election is the possibility of a Republican monopoly of state government. The current standing in the house is Republican-114 and Dem-45, with senate standing at a similar distribution of Rep-24 and dem-7.

Both major candidates have distinguished themselves as servants of the American people, at home and abroad. Koster, before coming to his current position, served as assistant to the Attorney General immediately following his academic career, and then, following a short period in private sector litigation beginning in 1993, found himself in the position of Prosecuting Attorney for Cass County only a year later. He held this position from 1998 to 2004, when he was elected to the State Senate on the Republican ticket. In 2007, he adjusted his party affiliation and ran for A.G as a Democrat. He has served in the position since that time.

Koster’s primary opponent, Eric Greitens, is an ex-Rhodes scholar, white house fellow, and Navy Seal. Since returning from his tour of duty, Greitens has established a nationally renowned non-profit organization The Mission Continues, with the goal of, per the organization’s website, of “[Empowering] veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. We deploy veterans on new missions in their communities, so that their actions will inspire future generations to serve.” He has also authored several books on his development as a service member and a humanitarian.

The libertarian candidate, Cisse Spragins, is a native of Jackson, Tennessee, and received her Doctors in Plasma Physics. Between education and politics, she worked for a Wisconsin based rodent control product manufacturer. She then went on to form her own health sanitation and pest management firm in Minnesota, shortly thereafter becoming active in Minnesota libertarian politics, during which time she served as the Minnesota coordinator for the Michael Badnarik campaign during 2004. Following the 04 election, she relocated to Kansas City, MO. Spragins has since been Libertarian candidate for Missouri Secretary of State in 2012, and U.S. Senate in 2010, holding vice chair of the state party beginning 2008, and becoming Chair in 2010.

The Green Party Candidate, Don Fitz, is a Doctor of Psychology who has worked in various pedagogical and research positions across the state of Missouri for over 25 years. He is involved in a number of publications an civic outreach arms of the green party in Missouri.

Independent Lester Turilli III is a Parkway North graduate, who received a bachelor of Business Admin. from Baylor University. Mr. Turilli now sits as an executive for two businesses which operate the system of zip lines at Meramec Caverns.

The views of each of the major party candidates roughly align to national norms. Koster presents a message that issues like failing educational systems and crumbling infrastructure should represent the primary targets of the incoming governor; he speaks to a need for bipartisan action at all levels of government, and he has suggested possible tax hikes on things like cigarettes – whereas Greitens responds to these issues with declarations of flagrant waste and inefficiency. Greitens has suggested going so far as to hire a chief operating officer to manage the state budget through constant rigorous auditing of state agencies.

Spragins aligns with both the green party candidate, on issues involving personal freedoms and mass incarceration, and with Greitens on issues of budgetary management – going so far as to suggest the foundation of a gold-standardized state currency to reduce the power of the Federal reserve in state finance. Fitz positions himself to occupy the electoral space which hopes to attract those who are as of July no longer able to support Bernie Sanders on the national ballot. He is an opponent of mass incarceration, excessive scientific manipulation of agriculture, favors a highly curved graduated income tax, aims for free state universities and colleges, and is a moderate in reference to the second amendment.

During the candidate’s forum, essentially a gubernatorial debate, held in September, the following 8 questions were posed to the candidates:

Would you veto the ban on anti-discrimination laws for clergy members and businesses?
Would you support the Right to Work legislation proposed for Missouri?
Would you accept Medicaid dollars from the federal government?
What is your plan to act on Transportation?
Do you think Missouri is suffering from underfunding of the education system?
Is the budget as it stands manageable, and are there any intricacies that you would be especially equipped to deal with?
Do you agree with larger national sentiments that government is broken at all levels?
Do you feel that management of the crisis in Ferguson was adequate?

The general responses to the questions each candidate are as follows:

Graphic courtesy of Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe
Graphic courtesy of Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe

The pool of candidates consists of distinguished Missourians, and commensurately contentious competition, especially between candidates of the two major parties. During the debate, and during the election broadly speaking, the most vigorous exchanges by far have been those between Koster and Greitens (Mr. Fritz, in the opinion of this writer, deserves an honorable mention for the vigor which he directed not toward other candidates, but toward the audience. To the character of Mr. Fritz, Mr. Turilli and Ms. Spragins presented excellent foils.)

As the debate proceeded, Greitens managed to negatively correlate every single answer to every single question in some way back to Koster. Generally, these attacks were based upon the length of Koster’s career in politics, which has spanned over 20 years, underlining Greitens’ support of more strict term limits for all state-wide offices, and of his own newness to the political stage (which is, as shall be discussed, not necessarily an indication of his formidability.) Greitens also mentioned a New York Times article in which Koster appeared as a central target of investigation. According to the article, Koster has had very close relations with national law firms which have litigated on behalf of major corporations in recent years, and seems to have allowed special treatment of those firms in court. Koster denies the substance of these claims.

Generally, Koster was able to respond to attacks by Greitens by insinuating that Greitens, considering his lack of experience, had very little ground to condemn a veteran public servant.

However these disputes resolve themselves at the ballot, the outcome will be of great implications. If the A.G finds himself in the Governor’s char come the new year, he would have the citizens who he serves have faith in his ability to bring unity to a divided capitol. Having formerly been a republican, he maintains many personal ties across the aisle, and he clearly is capable of at least publicly supporting both democrats and republicans.

Graphic courtesy of Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe
Graphic courtesy of Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe

According to the above graphic, Koster has consistently been projected to win, but as the election has approached, Koster’s Cushion has diminished

If, however, the GOP completes its trifecta in Jefferson, there will be a very powerful monopoly, which will have the power to usher in whatever vision they deem appropriate for the state.
What’s more, if Eric Greitens does take the Governors office, there is very serious speculation that it will be used as a stepping stone to national office. The Saint Louis Post dispatch recently ran an article citing the fact that nearly 60% of Greitens’ campaign contributions have come from out of state, piling to the tune of over 3.3 million dollars. Contributors in many cases have never even been to Missouri, and represent a moneyed class of venture capitalists and business men with known GOP affiliations at the national level. Greitens has appeared in “TIME” magazine for his nonprofit work, and frequents national fundraising events and dinners for various national political and philanthropic organization. Beyond that, in 2009, Greitens himself purchased the domain name This seems all to suggest that Missourians deciding whether to support Greitens as Governor, would like to see him off to Washington in the near future. It seems apparent that many of his supporters, due to his painfully evident tendency toward ambition -Navy SEAL, special operations division commander, white house fellow, and Gubernatorial greenhorn candidate, albeit many of them from outside Missouri, would.


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