Group Linked to National Democrats Will Spend Millions as Missouri Governor Race Heats Up

September 2, 2020by Bryan Lowry and Jonathan Shorman, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson addresses the media on the last day of legislative session at the Missouri State Capitol Building on May 17, 2019, in Jefferson City, Missouri. (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — National Democrats will spend more than $5 million over the next five weeks on TV ads in Missouri to boost Democrat Nicole Galloway’s campaign against Republican Gov. Mike Parson.

A Stronger Missouri, an independent expenditure group linked to the Democratic Governors Association, will launch the ad campaign Wednesday with a spot attacking Parson for accepting lobbyist gifts.

The ads mark the first major spending by national Democrats in the Missouri race. The spots will air primarily in the St. Louis and Kansas City markets.

“We call it the Show-Me State, but for career politician Mike Parson it’s the ‘Show Me the Money’ state. For years, Parson racked up gifts and perks from lobbyists and special interests,” the ad states.

The attack is based on a 2017 Associated Press story that Parson, then lieutenant governor, was the only statewide official to accept meals and gifts from lobbyists that year — a total of $2,752 from January through June of 2017.

The ad also references a 2019 story by The Kansas City Star about Parson flying to Washington on a private plane owned by Rick DeStefane, a nursing home executive who had donated to Parson’s campaign for governor.

Parson’s campaign shrugged off the attack and noted that Galloway’s husband and father-in-law have worked as lobbyists.

“Seems odd for Liberal Nicole and her friends to attack the Governor for following the law. Even more odd considering Galloway is a Jefferson City insider from a family of lobbyists who has been caught multiple times using her office to score political points,” said Steele Shippy, Parson’s campaign manager.

The investment by the DGA-linked group gives Galloway, Missouri’s auditor and only statewide Democrat, some wherewithal to compete with the hefty spending by Republican groups that have attacked her in recent weeks.

“This race may not have been on the pundits’ radar, but it was always on ours. Auditor Galloway is, and has always been, a tremendous candidate. Mike Parson and his cronies have spent millions with nothing to show for it because he has repeatedly failed Missourians on health care and the COVID crisis, and voters are understandably frustrated,” said Christina Amestoy, a spokeswoman for the DGA.

Parson took over the governorship in 2018 following the resignation of Eric Greitens. He has consistently led Galloway in the polls but the margin has varied wildly depending on the pollster. A handful of surveys give the governor a single-digit lead.

Uniting Missouri, a pro-Parson group, has currently committed to spend more than $8.3 million between the August primary and the Nov. 3 general election.

Uniting Missouri will release an ad this week featuring Le’Jon Gray, a St. Louis mother whose 20-year-old daughter Destiny Gray was shot and killed in December of 2019.

Gray criticizes St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner for not charging the person who allegedly pulled the trigger.

“Our family still hasn’t received justice because our local prosecutor refuses to bring charges against Destiny’s killer,” Gray states in the ad.

Gardner’s office said in July that it did not have enough evidence to bring charges after the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department determined the incident to be a justified shooting, according to a KMOV report.

Parson has proposed and promoted legislation to grant Attorney General Eric Schmitt concurrent jurisdiction to enable his office to prosecute St. Louis homicides, a proposal seen as an attack on Gardner, the city’s elected prosecutor who has championed police reform efforts.

Parson, a former sheriff, has been seeking to make law and order a central focus of his campaign. In the ad, Gray links Galloway to Gardner and contends that she “won’t stand up for victims of crime.”

Galloway said after a Tuesday campaign event in Gladstone that Parson hasn’t addressed the root causes of crime during his tenure as governor.

“Crime has gotten worse under his watch. He’s been governor for years — lieutenant governor for years. He’s been in the Legislature for over a decade. And so all of a sudden he’s waking up and finding himself where crime has increased across our entire state,” Galloway said. “The issue here, though, is that in the special session he’s not getting to the root causes of crime.”

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©2020 McClatchy Washington Bureau

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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