COLUMBIA, Mo. — Democrat Chris Koster toured the state Saturday with five Republican leaders of agriculture to meet directly with farmers in an attempt to shore up the rural vote in his bid for governor.
Richard Fordyce, the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture; Blake Hurst, the president of the Missouri Farm Bureau; Executive Vice President Mike Deering of the Missouri Cattleman’s Association; Matt McCrate, the president of the Missouri Soybean Association; and Gary Porter, the president the Missouri Corn Growers Association, joined Koster as he made campaign stops in St. Joseph, Springfield, Cape Girardeau, and Columbia.
Koster pushed a message of bipartisanship at each of the rallies, stressing that he represented a middle ground that could accomplish things for the state.
“Folks are frustrated with the extremism that’s not making progress for us,” Koster said at the Columbia rally. “Bipartisanship in pursuit of a better Missouri is possible.”
Koster also praised Sens. Doug Libla and Mike Kehoe, both Republicans, for their work in attempting to pass new legislation funding transportation infrastructure. The attorney general also noted that he had served in leadership of both major parties.
Much of the rally, however, focused on why the agricultural industry stood behind Koster despite Greitens’ claims that he would help the agricultural industry in the state.
“If I were standing in front of you as a farmer from Harrison County, I would be completely comfortable and confident in these organizations… and their endorsement of Chris Koster,” he said, noting that he also had a “unique” view of agriculture’s place in the state as the director of the Department of Agriculture. “I’ve been at this for quite a while, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a time in agriculture where we have been so united, where we have the momentum that we have right now in this industry. And it would be a shame to stop that momentum. Chris Koster will continue that momentum.”
Deering added that the Republican nominee for governor, Eric Greitens, did not represent the best interests of agriculture.
“[Koster’s] opponent is mysterious. We don’t know where the hell he stands on agriculture. He’s a boogeyman on this industry as far as I’m concerned. We have no idea where he stands, but we know where Chris Koster stands, and this industry, it is with him.”
All of the agricultural groups in attendance endorsed Koster and a straight Republican statewide ticket. The reason, Hurst said, is that Koster had earned the trust of the farmers around the state.
“We have a friend in Chris Koster,” he said.
On the campaign trail, Koster said that the endorsement from the Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups has been an important part of his message to govern as a conservative Democrat.
“It’s important because it’s where you have the best chance to bring together all the sectors of our state,” he said. “Bringing folks together and finding agreement among groups that have fought unproductively for the last 15 years is really what’s required here.”
The last poll from the Missouri Times showed a statistical tie between Koster and Greitens, with Greitens leading 46-45, well within the margin of error.