Rep. Jim Neely, a doctor and prominent medical marijuana advocate, has decided to make a 2020 gubernatorial bid.
“I think I can do better,” Neely told The Missouri Times. “I think I can do a better job of looking at these issues that are near and dear to the hearts of our taxpayers.”
The term-limited Republican lawmaker works with geriatric patients out of Cameron Regional Medical Center, is a U.S. Army veteran, and resides in Cameron. He has served in the Missouri House since 2012 and represents HD 8, which consists of Clinton and Caldwell counties and parts of Clay and Ray counties.
As a lawmaker, Neely successfully pushed for legislation which allows victims of domestic violence or sexual assault to be released from certain lease agreements, alters laws regarding 911 emergency communication services, and creates the offense of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images.
He also advocated for the legalization of medical marijuana through the General Assembly for those with serious medical conditions.
“The show in Jefferson City and politics is not for me. This isn’t about me; this is about the people,” Neely said.
He added that his “working life has been dedicated to people and meeting their needs as both a physician and legislator, with the goal of improving their quality of life.”
Neely will most likely face Republican Gov. Mike Parson is an August primary next year. Parson has not officially announced his intentions to seek a full term as governor but has teased Sept. 8 as a “special day” for those who support him and want to see him remain at the helm of the state.
“This isn’t about me, this isn’t about him. It is about the taxpayers,” Neely said about the potential matchup.
Parson took over as Missouri’s chief executive in June 2018 following the resignation of Republican Gov. Eric Greitens. Although he hasn’t officially announced his candidacy for governor, he has started building his campaign team; Parson named Steele Shippy, his former communications director, as his campaign manager earlier this month.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat, formally declared her gubernatorial candidacy in August. In her video announcement, Galloway didn’t mention Parson by name but criticized his administration and the partially-enacted abortion law he signed earlier this year. She also slammed so-called “dark money” that flows in Jefferson City.
Neely entered the race without the campaign warchest of his opponents.
As of the July quarterly filings, Parson had $1.15 million and Galloway had $133,000 cash on hand while Neely had $18,912 in the bank.
Galloway had brought in $117,259. Parson, on the other hand, raked in nearly $120,000. Both also spent similar amounts this cycle: Galloway spent a little more than $45,000 whereas Parson spent about $42,000.
In contrast, Neely did not spend or bring any money for the quarter.
Meanwhile, Parson’s Uniting Missouri PAC reported more than $2.8 million cash on hand with nearly $649,000 coming in this quarter. Galloway’s Keep Government Accountable PAC reported $20,937.75 with $9,000.00 coming in this quarter — though the committee has received several large donations since the last filings.
“Let’s not worry about the dollars,” Neely said. “Let’s try to address the needs of the tax dollars.”
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.