By SUSAN E. SAGARRA
Each of the four Republican candidates for Missouri’s next governor have many of the basic commonalities one would expect from conservatives running for office. The four candidates all tout tax cuts, deregulation and labor reforms in order to provide more and better jobs; local control of schools and elimination of Common Core curriculum; better leadership on public safety issues; pro-property rights; and preservation of the Second Amendment.
So what are the differences?
All tend to start many of their statements with, “I am the only candidate who . . .” But are they? We recently interviewed each candidate [listed in ballot order] and asked each what makes him or her uniquely qualified to be Missouri’s next governor; what they considered to be the No. 1 issue facing the state; and their ideas to correct what they believe is wrong with Missouri.
Hanaway, a former Missouri State Representative, was elected in 2002 as the first Republican Speaker of the House in 48 years, also becoming the first woman to hold the job. She cites her experience in halting former Gov. Bob Holden’s job-killing tax increases, enacting Missouri’s concealed carry law, reforming the state’s broken foster care system and ending public funding of abortions.
After leaving the Missouri House, Hanaway served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri – the chief federal law enforcement official for half of the state.
Hanaway said public safety is her No. 1 concern. She said that problems such as Ferguson, the protests at the University of Missouri and skyrocketing murder rates in St. Louis and Kansas City require her expertise in order to restore law and order in the state.
“The No. 1 problem is crime and people won’t come here because of that,” Hanaway said. “Powerful leaders should care about others. When Ferguson was burning, who was standing up for our police officers and the people and their property? We need to bring jobs to the state but we need to make the state safer to attract people and businesses. We need a governor who is going to restore law and order. We need to create an environment so that people want to come here. And we need to put a greater emphasis on education and job creation, which helps resolve some of the crime issues.”
Hanaway said her background as a prosecutor makes her uniquely qualified to address those public safety issues, citing the more than 4,000 cases she has prosecuted against meth dealers, child abusers and people who prey on nursing home residents.
She also said she can be effective in uniting the Missouri Republican Party.
“I started as minority leader and led the way in making the case for electing conservatives so that the Republicans became the majority in the House,” Hanaway said. “I understand how the system works and have worked with the members on both sides of the aisle. We need to unite as a state and as a country. We also need to find a way to shrink government in a responsible way and cut taxes so that people can spend more of their own money instead of the government spending it for them.”
Greitens served four tours of duty overseas, including in Afghanistan and Iraq as a Navy SEAL. After 10 years of service, he was selected by the Association of the U.S. Navy as the Navy Reserve Officer of the Year. When he returned, he founded The Mission Continues, a Missouri-based nonprofit that helps returning veterans get back on their feet, secure employment and give back to their communities.
Greitens said that career politicians and corruption are hurting the state’s ability to grow and prosper. He said his priority will be to clean up Jefferson City.
“Career politicians have failed us,” Greitens said. “I’m the only candidate who has never run for office. I’ve been a Navy SEAL, an entrepreneur, a husband and a father. We have had a lack of leadership from the governor’s office. Just look at Ferguson. Our state is 47th in job growth.
“The economic and political system in Missouri is so rigged that we can’t tell the difference between the lawmakers and the lawbreakers. The EPA harasses farmers, the IRA targets taxpayers. We need political leadership that comes from outside the establishment. I’m an outsider and I can build a team to address our health care needs and proper education, and protect private property rights.”
Greitens said he will ban gifts from lobbyists and further close the revolving door of lawmakers becoming lobbyists. He also said he will focus on creating a state budget that works for the people.
“We need to have a people’s budget rather than a political budget,” Greitens said. “We need to create a budget based around the people’s priorities. We need a zero-based budget. It’s the same thing I did with my business. We need accountability and we need to look at every line item in every department’s budget.”
Greitens said he also will help build an environment in which more private sector jobs can be created.
“When government over-regulates, overtaxes, overspends, overreaches – it hurts our businesses, damages our hospitals, injures our middle class, and holds back those struggling to make it into the middle class,” Greitens said. “We must eliminate burdensome regulations that are destroying jobs.”
Greitens also is a strong supporter of police officers and firefighters and pledged that they will receive the proper training and equipment to perform their duties.
Brunner served as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps before becoming CEO of his family-owned hand-sanitizer company Vi-Jon Inc.
In 2015, his “pocket” book, “Battlefield Verses,” became available as a message of encouragement to military families. He said the No. 1 issue facing the state is economic recovery.
“We need jobs,” Brunner said. “I’m the only candidate who has three decades of running a family business that has been around for more than 109 years. Children in the state are graduating and have to go out of state to find jobs. I’m the only candidate who has had a career in the business world, creating thousands of jobs. It’s all about results, in business and in government.”
Brunner said tort reform and regulatory reform are his top priorities to help businesses provide more jobs.
“I have the business background as a CEO and that’s what the governor needs to be,” Brunner said. “We need to recruit other CEOs and keep businesses here. We need to advocate for the people running the businesses and help them create jobs. The governor needs to run the state like he would run a business. As a business owner, every year I’m driven to find efficiency. We have to be innovative and take a business approach. We need to find good leaders in the 16 different state departments and they must have accountability. We need to look for gaps and overlaps.”
Brunner said he will foster an environment of free enterprise that attracts businesses, investment and opportunities for all Missourians. Specifically, Bruner said he will recruit other business owners and CEOs from around the country to invest in Missouri and hire workers; enact tort reform to stop frivolous job-killing lawsuits; enact labor reforms that protect the rights of workers to choose to join a union and end the requirement that costs local and state government millions of dollars requiring them to only contract with unions; eliminate burdensome and unnecessary regulations that handicap business; and reduce taxes on small business by putting an end to corporate tax handouts.
Kinder, who has worked as an attorney, real estate specialist and newspaper publisher, began his political career as a Missouri Senator. In 2001, Kinder became the first Republican in 53 years to be elected president pro tempore of the Missouri Senate. He has served as the state’s lieutenant governor since 2004.
Kinder said he knows how to win elections, which he said will be important in the Nov. 8 general election against likely Democratic frontrunner Chris Koster, the state’s current attorney general.
“Conservative voters are looking for someone who can actually win elections and I’ve won all of my statewide bids for office,” Kinder said. “I came from behind in three of those 11 races. I am the only candidate who has earned the Missouri Right to Life’s Defender of Life Award for the bill banning partial-birth abortion. I’ve received the highest rating from the NRA, which I won for the right to carry concealed weapons and overriding Gov. [Bob] Holden’s veto.”
Kinder also cites the fact that he was the only candidate who went to Ferguson during the turmoil.
“That was the worst failure of leadership by our governor,” Kinder said. “The governor should have been defending lives and property. I’ve called him out on the damage to the state’s reputation as a result of failed leadership on Ferguson and the University of Missouri problems time and again. I’ve fought battles when others wouldn’t. I fought against Obamacare when Gov. (Jay) Nixon and Chris Koster wouldn’t. I’ve plainly expressed the voice of Missourians who want jobs, taxes cut and restoring the law and order that’s been undermined.
“We have passed right-to-work [legislation] but the governor has vetoed it. We need to join the majority of other states who have passed it and become a magnet to keep our young and talented people here. States around us are cutting taxes and we need to look at doing the same thing.”
Kinder said as governor he will provide leadership to maintain law and order; create a job-friendly environment through right-to-work legislation and comprehensive tax reform; protect educational freedom, including promoting school choice, the spread of charter schools and opposing Common Core; control spending through comprehensive ethics reform, which will create greater transparency and accountability.
Kinder also said he will extend his personal history of cutting spending and returning unused budget funds in the lieutenant governor’s office to every facet of state government.
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Editor’s note: Other candidates for governor include, in ballot order, Democrats Leonard Joseph Steinman II, Chris Koster, Eric Morrison and Charles B. Wheeler. Cisse W. Spragins is the only Libertarian candidate. None of those candidates responded when Mid Rivers Newsmagazine requested their participation in the July 20 Election Preview.