Editor's note: This story originally publishedin advance of the August primary. It has been updated to include information about the candidates who will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. This article is part of the Missourian's 2012 general election voters guide.
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: jaynixon.com
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: spenceforgovernor.com
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: www.LPMO4Gov.com
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.