Eric Greitens, Republican nominee for Missouri governor, visited his Kirksville campaign office on Friday, Aug 26 at 5:30 p.m. as part of his General Election Kickoff tour.
The office, located at 212 N Franklin St., was his last of four stops that day, according to Greitens’ website. There was a variety of people in attendance, including Truman State University students, as well as Kirksville residents, politicians, business owners and residents from other parts of Adair County.
State Representative Nate Walker was among the speakers introducing Greitens at the event. Walker says he was happy to see such a large turnout of local and county-wide residents at the campaign office, and he says he was glad there was such a high voter turnout for the primary elections.
Walker says he first met Greitens at Missouri Chamber of Commerce event about two years ago, where Greitens was the keynote speaker. He says he initially supported Thomas Schweich, former state auditor and Republican candidate for Missouri governor, until Schweich died February 2015. Walker says he endorsed Greitens in September 2015 after Greitens stepped into the political scene by announcing his candidacy. Walker says Greitens has made five campaign stops to Kirksville since then.
“[Greitens] is the guy we need in the state legislature to push things forward,” Walker says.
Greitens asked those in attendance if they were ready to win the election. He says he wants to put an end to politics as usual because he says he thinks the current political establishment has been responsible for Missouri being rated 47th nationwide in economic growth for the past decade. He says he met many people who are out of work and leaving Missouri because of economic conditions.
“The government doesn’t create jobs — it should be creating the conditions necessary for job growth,” Greitens says.
Greitens says he and his supporters must take action by making phone calls, posting signs and outworking his political opponent, Chris Koster state attorney general and Democratic nominee for Missouri governor. Greitens says he will improve the Missouri educational system by opposing Common Core and returning power to local schools. He says he will also try to lower college tuition and fee rates, although he did not specify if he would call for another tuition freeze. He also says he will support Missouri’s law enforcement community.
Greitens says he thinks the current administration hasn’t done a good job in these areas. He says Koster and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon failed to handle the University of Missouri-Columbia’s 2015 protests, and says that caused a drop in enrollment of thousands of students and a $40 million budget shortfall for the university. He also says Koster abandoned the law enforcement community during the 2014 Ferguson protests.
“People from around the state are stepping up to take their government back,” Greitens says. “I promise I will outwork Chris Koster.”
In contrast, Koster’s Communications Director, David Turner, says Greitens has not been stating the facts about Koster. Turner also says Koster has a clear plan and is running a clean campaign despite Greiten’s claims. Turner says Koster has returned over $100 thousand in campaign donations while instituting stringent conflict-of-interest policies, thus limiting the power of lobbyist and special interest donations. He says Koster also plans to cut business taxes while closing loopholes, expand Medicaid, and implement other policies he says are projected to bring in billions of dollars for Missouri taxpayers.
Turner says many of Greitens’ claims are factually incorrect, such as Greitens’ claim that Koster used taxpayer money to redecorate his Jefferson City Attorney General Office. Turner says the AGO was facing numerous structural problems, asbestos, paint-peeling, etc. Turner says the money didn’t even come from the state’s general revenue, and he also says Koster had been running his office $30 million under budget, while making a 15 percent reduction in staff to do his best to save taxpayer money. Turner also says Koster had been praised for his work with the law enforcement community, including endorsements from the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, as well as a unanimous vote of endorsement by the Police Union.
“Koster was the first state official on the line, after dark, and talking with the protesters,” Turner says. “Greitens just doesn’t know the facts.”
Turner says the Missouri General Assembly has cut higher education funding by about 40 percent in the past two decades, and he says Koster plans to make smart investments in higher education to reverse this trend. Turner also says Koster would probably be open to supporting another future tuition freeze.
Chris Koster’s campaign office and the Adair County Democrats are both on Franklin Street. Turner says Koster will visit the office again before the general election.
“Chris Koster is bringing people together from all corners of the state,” Turner says.
Both candidates hope to secure a spot as Missouri Governor and serve Missouri citizens.