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Greitens finishes cross-state campaign office tour

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Republican nominee for governor, Eric Greitens, wrapped up his three-day tour of the state Saturday making stops in the St. Louis area, Columbia, Rolla and Cape Girardeau.

Former Greitens rival Catherine Hanaway joined Greitens in St. Louis to show of solidarity and support for the Republican ticket. Hanaway lost to Greitens earlier this month in a field of four GOP candidates.

In Columbia, local representatives from Central Missouri joined Greitens to speak in front of Greitens packed campaign office on Ash Street. Rep. Caleb Jones cited Greitens’ ethics platform as proof that the former Navy SEAL wanted to ensure people in Jefferson City were “doing the right things for the right reasons.

Rep. Caleb Rowden, who is running against Rep. Stephen Webber for state Senate, added that he believed Attorney General Chris Koster and his supporters were “scared to death” of running against Greitens.

When Greitens finally spoke, he launched into his stump speech with a greater focus on attacking Koster for his “failures” as the state’s top law enforcement agent from Ferguson to increased violent crime rates. Greitens said that murders had increased 30 percent and rapes had increased by 60 percent, though he did not cite his source for this information in his speech.* Later in the day, a staffer for Greitens clarified that their data came from the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program from 2009 compared to 2015.

“Those are lives that are being lost,” Greitens said. “Those are lives that are being hurt and damaged because of Chris Koster’s failures.”

Oddly enough, statistics from the Missouri State Highway Patrol show that violent crime has decreased almost every year since Koster took office though the last reliable data comes from 2014. The 2009 numbers from the agency differentiate slightly.

Rep. Caleb Jones introduced Greitens to a crowd of roughly 100 people at a rally in Columbia Saturday, Aug. 27.
Rep. Caleb Jones introduced Greitens to a crowd of nearly 100 people at a rally in Columbia Saturday, Aug. 27.
Greitens also criticized renovations for the attorney general’s office that Koster lobbied for, though the 2013 Capitol improvements were approved unanimously by the Senate and only five representatives voted against it. Representatives Caleb Jone and Caleb Rowden voted for the funding Greitens attacked. None of the money used for those renovations came from general revenue, most of it from federal grants. The point still played well with the crowd, including Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit.

“I think all of the state offices can be more conservative in some areas,” Fitzwater said. “When we’re having a hard time meeting our budget needs and the governor‘s withholding money for all of our budget needs, to spend that much money on things that aren’t necessity I think there’s something to be said about that.”

The nominee also responded to protesters that have hounded him on the tour for his position on raising the minimum wage. Greitens said he opposed that idea, saying it would do more harm than good to the economy.

“What the data shows very clearly is that you want to have as many people working as possible,” he said. “Raising the minimum wage often makes it artificially expensive to hire people who need job opportunities.

“We want to make sure people have an on ramp into the economy.”

Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, also spoke at the event, thanking Greitens for standing up for veterans like himself and his father. Basye served in the Marines, and his father served in the Navy.

Former Democratic state Senator Wes Shoemyer, who has criticized Koster on agricultural policy recently and in the past, also attended the event. Koster has won endorsements from agricultural advocacy groups across the state since the campaign for the general election began. Jake Davis, a member of the Humane Society of the United States’ Missouri Agriculture Advisory Council, stood with Shoemyer.

The crowd itself, roughly 100 people, received Greitens well. Fitzwater says that the nominee’s energy and history of service inspire people.

“He brings a crowd that’s passionate about his mission, and I think it speaks to him so much as a person with everything he’s accomplished in his life,” he said.

Greitens agreed, noting that he was not perturbed at losing endorsements from traditionally conservative groups and being behind by 10 points in one of the nation’s best rated polls, according to

“We’re running a grassroots campaign,” he said “All of the folks who are out here today, who are fired up about taking our government back, making sure that we have a government that works for the people… We believe very strongly when we make our case to the people of Missouri they’re going to come out and support this campaign.”