Gov. Eric Greitens rode a wave of Trumpism to the Governor’s Mansion, and combined with the Republican supermajorities in the General Assembly, he has already begun leaving a mark on the state. We took a look at his 10 best days in office that are mostly filled with accomplishments that Republicans have long lusted for, and half that many rough days which are mostly filled with self-inflicted ethics issues. With the General Assembly having 10 legislative days left, many wonder if any of those days will make the list and which list they make.
Ten Best Days
Feb. 6 – Signing Right-to-Work
Greitens’ best day was one where he kept a campaign promise to sign right-to-work into law. The House and Senate put this on the fast track and Democrats in the Senate acquiesced to the will of the people. Greitens’ signature made a dream of several Republicans a reality less than a month into his term.
Jan. 9 – The Inauguration
On what has to be one of the biggest days of anyone’s life, Greitens was sworn in as Missouri’s 56th Governor in a celebration that has not been matched since that of Gov. Bob Holden in 2001. While it was a bit controversial as many corporations who have business before the Governor donated to a dark money fund to pay for the party, Greitens showed an oratory skill that likely surpasses that of most of his modern predecessors in a speech that was as on point as it was well-delivered.
April 6 – Layman, Farmer, and Chatman confirmed as MU curators
One of the biggest problems Gov. Jay Nixon left for his predecessor was the chaos as the University of Missouri. While it’s unlikely the university system is turned around in a day, his first three appointees to the Board of Curators were universally acclaimed. A unilateral move on paid leave slowed down their confirmation, but his first curator appointees seem to have been a home run.
April 24 – Signing the Ride-Sharing Bill
In an odd legislative quirk, Missouri was one of the last remaining states where it was illegal to take an Uber or a Lyft. The governor made it a priority in his state of the state address and the House ran hard with it. Overcoming some unexpected issues in the Senate, it was passed, and the governor signed the bill in front of a packed house in St. Charles while taking a ride through Taco Bell right after. While good for a Facebook post, it was also something that has long been a legislative priority.
April 25 – Putting Powell on the Supreme Court
Republicans groused about the panel put forward, and from the day the finalists were listed, it was likely that Judge W. Brent Powell would be the next judge named to the court. After a vetting process, the governor selected Powell and, in doing so, placed a conservative on a court where many argue that perspective is under-represented.
Feb. 23 – Photo-Op with the Vice President
Little more than a month into office, Missouri played host to Vice President Mike Pence and on the stage with him was the governor. They talked about jobs at Fabick in Fenton then spent an hour together picking up brush at the recently vandalized cemetery.
April 13 – Allowing religious organization to apply for state funds
In Missouri, religious groups have not been able to apply for state grants in a policy that was strictly at odds with most of the republican base. Greitens was hailed as he reversed that decision, and gave his base another piece of red meat to chew on.
Feb. 9 – Steelman, Chinn, and Karsten confirmed
It took a few weeks longer than he had hoped, but, in the end, Sarah Steelman was confirmed as Commissioner of Administration, Chris Chinn as director of the Department of Agriculture, and Sandra Karsten as Colonel of the Missouri Highway Patrol. While the governor’s out-of-state hires have been panned, these three hires won the Governor near universal praise.
March 13 – Paid Leave
While very unpopular in many conservative circles and among separation of power advocates, the governor issued an executive order granting six weeks paid leave to mothers and three weeks to new fathers who are state employees. The move was widely praised in the media and even by Democrats who would like to broaden the number of state workers eligible.
March 5 – Power Player of the Week
It’s no secret the governor enjoys Washington D.C., and there aren’t many bigger hugs the Washington elite can give than being named the Fox News Sunday Power Player of the Week. The interview with Chris Wallace was overwhelmingly positive and detailed the governor’s impressive resume and highlighted some of the goals of his administration.
Five Worst Days
April 21 – Dark money committee attacks Republicans
It was one of the worst days that any senator had all session. Sen. Rob Schaaf had lost his managed care amendment in committee, a bill died in the House while invoking his name, and he faced a contentious inquiry on the floor that closed the week. However, a dark money attack from the governor’s nonprofit resurrected his session with a new cause. The ads were as ridiculous as they were tone-deaf, calling Schaaf liberal and against ethics reform. It’s one thing to be forced to make a tough call that doesn’t go well. It’s quite another to make an unforced error of this magnitude.
April 28 – Ethics violations
Normally, when a politician gets dinged with an ethics violation it’s a ho-hum affair. When that politician is the governor and that politician spent two years proclaiming others are corrupt, then it’s a big, big deal. One former senator once said that the problem with ethics reform is always its flawed messengers. Well, that is certainly the case now.
Jan. 30 – Threatens Senate
Governors are typically unsuccessful in lobbying senators. Well, Greitens took it to an all-new level with his first entry into legislative lobbying. The Senate was working through their biannual rejection of a pay increase when the governor started tweeting. Then, he followed that by going up to President Pro Tem Ron Richard’s office and threatening and getting into confrontations with a group of Senators. Some tucked tail and went along with him, however, he made a few enemies that night that are still coming back to bite him.
March 8 – Starts a dark money committee
In a story in the Kansas City Star, leading capitol reporter Jason Hancock detailed a new dark money committee started by Greitens’ staffers. This was a first in Missouri and stood in stark contrast to the “throw the special interests down the steps of the Capitol” rhetoric of Greitens’ campaign. When faced with attacks from similar committees in 2015 Greitens said, “I have repeatedly challenged (my opponent) to accept responsibility for these recent attacks, but like a typical politician, he has ducked and dodged. We don’t need more of that in Jefferson City.”
April 8 – Gets involved in the Speaker’s race
It was first mentioned by Capitol scoop-meister Dave Drebes that aides to the governor were lobbying House members on who should be the next Speaker. Up to now, the House has been famously compliant with the Greitens’ wishes. If he gets involved and loses a Speaker’s race, he may see a much more independently-minded chamber in 2019.