Hundreds of supporters came out Monday, filling Memorial Park in Jefferson City to kick off Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe’s campaign to keep his position.

Kehoe didn’t run for lieutenant governor in 2016. He was appointed by then-Lt. Gov. Mike Parson in June 2018 to fill the position, which Parson himself vacated when he became governor.

His appointment was not without controversy; Missouri Democrats went so far as to challenge Parson’s right to appoint a new lieutenant governor at the Supreme Court level, but they were ultimately unsuccessful.

“Republican leadership in Missouri has time and time again shown their willingness to push extremist legislation, legislation that is unpopular with Missourians,” Missouri Democrats Executive Director Lauren Gepford said in a statement. “We look forward to having an elected Lt. Governor and are excited to field a strong candidate to run against the appointed Lt. Governor Kehoe.”

At his campaign announcement, Kehoe stressed his anti-abortion stance, promising that “protecting innocent life” is his No. 1 priority. He offered support to Missouri’s eight-week abortion ban, including its lack of exemptions for rape or incest.

“I’m not sure that the child had any choice in its conception,” Kehoe said.

He also discussed the need to improve Missouri’s workforce development.

“Missouri’s elementary and secondary schools need to do a better job preparing Missouri young men and women for a career after high school,” Kehoe said. “Educators of all levels need the right incentives to help Missouri to be a leader in workforce development.”

Kehoe, who has cattle himself, also talked about how he plans to support Missouri agriculture. All of the food served at the event, Kehoe said, was from Missouri companies, as part of the BuyMissouri program. BuyMissouri is an initiative begun by Parson while he was lieutenant governor to highlight companies that make their products in the state.

Among those there to support Kehoe’s campaign were Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Parson.

Parson said when considering who to appoint as lieutenant governor, he thought about who would be the best person to step into his position, if necessary.

“It wasn’t a hard decision to make,” Parson said. “I had to have somebody that I felt like could work. I can’t think of anyone who has that work ethic more than Mike Kehoe does.”

Before he was appointed, Kehoe was previously on the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and was a state senator for the 6th district, which includes Jefferson City.

Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart.

  • State Government reporter, fall 2019 Studying investigative journalism Reach me at eew3pr@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

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