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Parson, Galloway spar over coronavirus response in debate 

Incumbent Gov. Mike Parson and Auditor Nicole Galloway traded barbs over COVID-19 during Friday’s gubernatorial debate.

“Gov. Parson has failed the test of leadership, and its time for a change,” Galloway said. 

She reiterated her support for a statewide mask mandate, citing Parson’s approach to the virus as having a “do as I say, not as I do” air to it.

Parson countered, highlighting his administration’s focus on local control and commending the work Missouri’s communities had done to combat the virus. 

“People at home should have a say in the rules and regulations that are placed on them,” he said. “No one person should be trying to make mandates for the entire state of Missouri. It’s a very diverse state where you have rural areas and urban areas. We should support the local levels.” 

Galloway largely focused on health care — a tactic noted by the Democratic Governors Association Thursday — as well as Missouri’s working-class families. 

“I am running for governor to put Jefferson City back on the side of working families and to act with urgency to protect our fellow Missourians,” Galloway said. “The most important thing the next governor will have to do is contain the spread of the virus and rebuild Missouri’s economy.”

Parson frequently circled back to the economy and unemployment numbers during the debate, touting new jobs coming to the state and recent investments into education and infrastructure. 

“I believe everybody is equal,” Parson said. “I believe everybody has the right to the American dream. The only way that happens is if we stand up for basic freedoms and protect individual rights. You have to fight for that every day; that’s why I’m running for governor.”

The candidates debated schools reopening during the pandemic, the state’s transportation budget, tax rates, economic development, infrastructure, and violent crime alongside Green Party candidate Jerome Bauer and Libertarian candidate Rik Combs. The debate was hosted by the Missouri Press Association. 

Galloway said Parson “struck out” in this summer’s special legislative session on violent crime, during which two of the Republican governor’s seven priorities made it to his desk for a signature. She asserted that the root of the state’s crime problem came from a lack of economic opportunities and health care, as well as the state’s gun laws. 

Parson said the special session had been a success, asserting that Galloway’s “liberal agenda is the cause of this problem.”

The opponents sparred over the question of defunding the police, with Galloway pointing to budgetary cuts earlier this year as a stain on Parson’s stance on police. 

“I do not support defunding police,” Galloway said. “There’s only one person on this stage that has defunded the police, and that’s Gov. Parson.”

“I would never defund the police,” Parson countered. “These guys are working their tail-ends off to keep Missouri safe. The entire state is having a hard time hiring police officers — I want to help them do their jobs and put more officers on the streets.”

On Amendment 3, which would alter the state’s redistricting process and prohibit lobbyist gifts to elected officials, Galloway asserted her support for Clean Missouri, the version passed by Missouri voters in 2018. Parson expressed his support for the ballot initiative, saying it would allow voters a second chance to review a complex change to state law. 

A recent poll found Galloway trailing with Missouri voters by 13 points, with 41 percent of those surveyed saying they would vote for Galloway and 54 percent backing Parson.

As of September, Parson had nearly $2 million cash on hand. Galloway boasted more than $2.1 million in her warchest. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.