Missouri’s incoming governor is a farmer, soldier, lawman
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Parson will become Missouri’s 57th governor when Eric Greitens’ resignation becomes official Friday.
Parson is planning a private ceremony, citing time constraints. He said he’ll plan a public event later.
Greitens, a Republican, announced his resignation Tuesday in the midst of a special session called by the Legislature to consider impeachment.
Here are some facts about Missouri’s incoming governor:
A FARMER, SOLDIER, LAWMAN, LAWMAKER
Parson, 62, was born in 1955 in Wheatland in southwestern Missouri and graduated from Wheatland High School in 1973. He is a third-generation farmer. The family farm is near Bolivar. He and his wife, Teresa, have two children and five grandchildren.
He served two tours in the Military Police, in Germany and Hawaii, for the U.S. Army. He later spent 12 years as Polk County sheriff, then another dozen years in the Legislature before being elected lieutenant governor in 2016.
Parson and his wife grew their agricultural property from 22 acres (8.9 hectares) in 2007 to 90 acres (36.42 hectares) in 2017, according to his annual financial disclosure forms. The couple also operated rental properties and had an interest in two golf courses over the past decade. His wife is a bank loan officer.
Parson underwent heart surgery on Christmas Eve in 2016 to remove blockage but recovered in time for the inaugural ceremony less than three weeks later.
Parson was elected to the Missouri House in 2004 and re-elected twice before winning election to the state Senate in 2010 and re-election in 2014.
As a lawmaker, he was an outspoken opponent of abortion and a strong supporter of the National Rifle Association. In 2007, Parson supported legislation to strengthen a law allowing home, business and vehicle owners to use deadly force in warding off attackers.
He successfully sought an amendment to the Missouri Constitution designed to protect farmers from having to modify their practices to satisfy the concerns of animal-rights groups. The Humane Society of the United States and other groups opposed the measure, but voters narrowly approved it in 2014.
Parson’s former colleagues in the Legislature expect him to have a far better working relationship with lawmakers than Greitens, who repeatedly referred to them as “corrupt career politicians.”
RISE TO LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
The 2016 race for governor was expensive and contentious. Parson toyed with making a run but ultimately decided to run for lieutenant governor.
He raised $2.9 million, including $350,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee. He won by more than 10 percentage points over Democrat Russ Carnahan, the son of the late Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan, as part of a 2016 sweep of statewide offices. The only Democrats now holding statewide office in Missouri, Sen. Claire McCaskill and Auditor Nicole Galloway, did not face elections in 2016.
Once in office, Parson investigated complaints about the treatment of patients at the state veterans’ home in St. Louis. He called for the removal of its administrator in December. Greitens followed up by appointing five new members to the Missouri Veterans Commission and directing them to fire the administrator.
Parson sought an increase in his office’s budget to hire a personal driver. The state also added $54,000 to its budget to remodel the lieutenant governor’s Capitol office for the first time in 12 years after Parson was elected.