Back in 2015, multiple candidates were contemplating running to be the next Missouri governor, and I had spoken to several of them about their efforts. As a republican political consultant, that’s not anything new for me.
One thing that caused blaring alarm bells was one of the candidates had recently switched from being an ardent Democrat to an ultraconservative Republican. That’s not normal for someone to do before entering a campaign.
Usually, when someone runs for governor, they are well known and somewhat vetted by the public. Not Eric Greitens. Greitens, as you probably know, was a former Navy SEAL.
Why would someone who was at former President Barack Obama’s 2008 acceptance speech, had continuously hobnobbed among elite Democratic circles, and campaigned for Democrats as late as 2014, only a few months later become his polar opposite? Ambition. Ambition without values, to be more precise.
Greitens looked the part in every way and convinced a lot of people to support him. Unfortunately, that was only the public side of Greitens. The private side, as we have since learned, seems to be a much more insidious, secretive and amoral person, who believes he is above the law.
The first real confirmation of my suspicions was in late July 2016. Three Navy SEALs from around the country flew in to support Peter Kinder’s campaign for governor, not their former colleague, Greitens. Navy SEALs form a brotherhood forged under fire, so they rarely cross a brother SEAL. They take care of each others’ families and stay close even after service. So, I was surprised when they opposed a brother in arms.
Brother in arms is not exactly how they would term it. At one point during their state tour, I was driving them to an event (for the last month of the campaign I was a consultant for Peter Kinder) and asked why they opposed Greitens.
Their response was simple: “As soon as he became a SEAL, he headed for the door, so he could use the SEAL brand to benefit himself. He did this at a time when we needed all hands on deck.”
That sums up most people’s opinion of Greitens.
Greitens campaigned as a bombastic populist who was going to remove the so-called corruption in Jefferson City. His ads were rife with him shooting big guns and talking tough. As it turned out, 2016 was the year of the outsider and this strategy worked. He rode into the Governor’s Mansion on Donald Trump’s coattails and immediately started picking fights with lawmakers from his own party, literally. He once threatened to fight a senator who disagreed with him on a policy issue.
During the same time Greitens was running for governor, Mike Parson was running for lieutenant governor by talking about bringing people together, bridging the rural and urban divide, and promoting Missouri. Since becoming lieutenant governor, Parson has focused on advocating for seniors and the elderly, working with lawmakers to pass key legislation and promoting companies statewide through his “Buy Missouri” program.
In other words, Parson is the polar opposite of Greitens, and that will be a welcome change for Missouri.
Miles Ross is the owner of Veritas Public Relations, specializing in political consulting, governmental relations and crisis communications. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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