VOTERS GUIDE: Missouri gubernatorial candidates

Friday, August 3, 2012 | 3:05 p.m. CDT; updated 7:46 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 17, 2012

WHAT'S THE JOB? The governor is the state’s chief executive officer. The governor’s powers and duties include:

  • Presenting an annual State of the State address.
  • Submitting a budget within the first 30 days of the legislative session.
  • Granting pardons.
  • Acting as commander in chief of Missouri’s National Guard.
  • Appointing members to all state boards and commissions, appointing department directors and filling public office vacancies. The Missouri Senate holds the power of consent over many of these appointments. The governor can also appoint one of the state’s two U.S. senators if a vacancy occurs.
  • Signing or vetoing bills passed by the Missouri General Assembly. The governor can also call for a special session to deal with pending or urgent legislative action.
  • Appointing a non-partisan court judge vacancy from a panel of three, which has been selected by a nominating committee beforehand.

The governor must be at least 30, must have been a U.S. citizen for 15 years and must have been a Missouri resident for 10 years. The governor's salary is $133,821. Governors are limited to two four-year terms.

Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon (D)

A native of De Soto, Nixon was elected as governor in 2008. Before that, he served as Missouri's attorney general for 16 years.

Nixon's campaign website points to his accomplishment as governor, including  balancing the state's $24 billion budget without raising taxes. Under Nixon's administration, the state workforce has shed more than 4,000 employees.

He has also strayed from his party on the Affordable Care Act, opposing the law's requirement that every American have some type of health insurance. Nixon, however, has not offered his stance on whether Missouri should expand its Medicaid program under the provisions of the federal health care law. 

According to his campaign website, Nixon's top priority is jobs and economic development. If re-elected, he plans to push for lower taxes on small businesses and boost the state's exporting capabilities. 

  • Personal: Age 56. He is married to Georgeanne Nixon. They have two sons.
  • Education: Bachelor's degree in political science, MU, 1978; Juris Doctorate, MU, 1981.
  • Occupation: Incumbent governor of Missouri, attorney.
  • Background: First elected to the Missouri Senate in 1986 and served in the Senate for six years before being elected attorney general; made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 1988.
  • Campaign website:   

Clay Thunderhawk (D)

The Missourian was unable to reach Thunderhawk for comment. The Missouri Democratic Party had no contact information for him, and he has filed no campaign finance reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Thunderhawk lives in Ellington, according to the Missouri secretary of state's list of candidates on the primary ballot.

William Campbell (D)

Campbell, of Russellville, doesn't really consider himself a Democrat.

"Since Missouri doesn't have an independent party, I became a Democrat simply because I had to pick a party," he said. 

If Campbell were to win the Democrats' nomination and prevail in the November election, he said he would use his business experience to create a better business climate for the state. He began his career as a mechanic at a car dealership but became the owner after five years. 

"We need to stop government waste, which is preventing businesses from giving raises to their employees," he said. 

He would also fight against tax increases, calling them "cancer to the growth of Missouri."

  • Personal: Married for 32 years with two children.
  • Education: Two years of technical college at Tri County Technical School.
  • Occupation: Owner of Putnam Chevrolet in California, Mo.

John Weiler (R)

Weiler could not be reached for information about his campaign. He has not filed any fundraising activity with the Missouri Ethics Commission. He is from Pevely.

Weiler's Facebook page says he is "an extremely conservative Republican" whose priorities include passing what supporters call "right-to-work" legislation, abolishing the requirement that motorcycle riders wear helmets and replacing the state's income tax with a higher sales tax. He also wants police to have the authority to search, arrest and deport illegal immigrants. He supports the establishment of a cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and wants to eliminate state historic preservation tax credits.

"I would implement government downsizing to protect the Missouri taxpayers from wasteful government spending, close tax loopholes in Missouri and reduce the debt of Missouri," Weiler's Facebook page says.

Dave Spence (R)

Dave Spence, of St. Louis, said Missouri needs someone who "recognizes government can’t solve, and shouldn’t be expected to solve, every problem."

Spence, who has never held public office, recently stepped down as CEO of Alpha Packaging to run for governor. He ran the plastics manufacturing company for 27 years and is using his experience in the private sector to run against "career politicians" and “government bureaucrats.”

Spence said his top priority would be to create a business environment with limited regulations in order to create jobs. He also advocates litigation reform and says that providing tax certainty would benefit job creators and the business climate.

  • Personal: Age 54. Married to Suzie Spence. They have four children.
  • Occupation: Former president of Alpha Packaging and chairman of Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging.
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in home economics from MU, 1981.
  • Background: Member of the St. Louis Sports Commission and the Regional Business Council; sponsor of the entrepreneurial studies program at MU's Trulaske School of Business; recipient of the 2012 National Association of Container Distributors Hall of Fame Award; given the Fast Track Award from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce for Alpha in 2009 and again in 2010 for Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging.
  •  Campaign website: 

Bill Randles (R)

Bill Randles is a "country boy at heart" from a small Ozarks town, according to his website.

He was born in Springdale, Ark., in 1963 and moved to Bolivar in 1981. He attended college on a speech and debate scholarship. During the 2009 stock market crash, he invested heavily in American business, allowing him to "fully devote himself to his campaign."

Randles said conservatives must stop addressing singular issues and instead commit themselves "to actually fixing the machinery of government" and overall reform.

If elected governor, Randles said he would support "right-to-work" legislation, replace the income tax with a low sales tax, place comprehensive standards on judges and conduct regulatory reform, including removing the power from regulators to create new rules.

  • Personal: Age 49. Married to Bev Randles. They have a son.
  • Occupation: Owner of Randles Consulting, LLC.
  • Education: Bachelor's degrees in speech and psychology from Southwest Baptist University; master's degree in communication studies from Baylor University, 1986; Juris Doctorate from Harvard University, 1990.
  • Background: Former co-owner of Shook, Hardy & Bacon; attorney at Lewis & Rice; minister.
  • Campaign website: 

Fred Sauer (R)

For the past six years, Sauer has been organizing political campaigns and efforts to oppose the use of taxpayer money to fund abortions, human cloning and experiments involving embryos. 

In 2006, he founded Missouri Roundtable for Life, which opposes stem cell research and recently was involved in legal action against the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act.

Sauer, of St. Louis, said he is the only gubernatorial candidate who has a record of "fighting for Missouri taxpayers against special interest groups." In addition to fighting special interest groups, Sauer said he supports "right-to-work" legislation, minimizing taxes and restoring campaign contribution limits.

  • Personal: Age 67. Married to Mary Jo Sauer. They have four children.
  • Occupation: President of Orion Investment Co.
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University, 1967; master's in business administration from from Stanford University, 1969.
  • Background: Founder of Missouri Roundtable for Life; filed lawsuit against Missouri Science & Innovation Reinvestment Act (2011); member of St. Anselm Catholic Church and head of St. Anselm Pro-Life Committee.
  • Campaign website:

Jim Higgins (Libertarian)

Higgins, of St. Louis, said is running for governor to bring a different perspective to state government.

"I'm tired of hearing these politicians promise to create jobs," he said. "They think the government is the solution and it's not."

Higgins said that if he becomes governor he would cut back on government subsidies and allow school administrators to have greater flexibility when deciding curriculum. He also supports holding yearly reviews of business regulations and opposes the use of eminent domain.

  • Personal: Age 64. Married to LaDonna Higgins. They have two children.
  • Occupation: Computer systems analyst
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Ohio University, 1971.
  • Background: Corporal in the Missouri National Guard; 40 years with the Libertarian Party.
  • Campaign website: 

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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