With less than a year remaining until the November 2016 election, the Missouri gubernatorial race is heating up as Republicans try to wrest back a governor’s office that has been held by the Democrats for more than a decade.
Candidates crowded the stage for the GOP nomination in the August primary. After some of them dropped out, the four remaining contenders are Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, St. Louis businessman John Brunner and businessman and former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens.
The Year in Brief offers a look at Missouri’s most important business stories of 2015 and previews how those stories could play out in 2016 and beyond.
Meanwhile, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is the only major Democrat in the race, with no serious challenger on the horizon. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon cannot run for re-election because of term limits.
The governor’s race was turned upside down in February, when Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, an early candidate in the Republican contest, committed suicide, stunning the political establishment. In a voicemail to a journalist from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shortly before his death, Schweich criticized political bullying and accused fellow Republicans of starting rumors among donors that he was Jewish, trying to hurt his chances in the primary.
In the future
A crowded primary field poses a daunting funding challenge for the Republican candidates, who are competing for donors and trying not to burn through too much cash before the general election.
Republicans have raised a combined $4.3 million in campaign funds so far, with individual totals ranging from over $200,000 to over $2 million, according to the most recent quarterly financial disclosure report by the Missouri Ethics Commission. But the more primary candidates there are, the more money they have to spend before the general election even begins.
By contrast, Koster has banked more than $5 million, and he likely won’t have to spend as much as his counterparts to advance to the general election.
If the GOP can maintain its veto-proof majorities in the Missouri House and Senate, a Republican in the Governor’s Mansion would eliminate a significant barrier to Republicans implementing their legislative agenda in Jefferson City after years of high veto tallies and heated override battles with Nixon in office.
In a graphic
In a tweet
In December, Greitens, who leads GOP candidates in funds raised to this point, posted a tweet implicitly acknowledging the important role that the campaign chest will play for candidates in the coming months:
— Eric Greitens (@EricGreitens) December 18, 2015