Former Missouri governor Eric Greitens has filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission that he intends to run for a statewide office in 2024. What office he is running for is the question, but he will run as a Republican.
This is the same Eric Greitens who resigned from the Missouri governorship after a year and a half due to irregularities concerning his campaign financing, his nonprofit and his personal life.
If you have forgotten about Greitens’ past, he was originally a Democrat up until he decided to run for governor in 2015, when he switched parties. Not that a person who switched allegiance should not be considered for a leadership role, it is just a question of his reasoning and timing.
Late in his tenure, Greitens was charged with a felony for tampering with a computer in taking email and donor lists from The Mission Continues, his nonprofit, for fundraising purposes. The charges were dropped in May 2018, when the St. Louis prosecutor’s office made a deal with Greitens that if he resigned, it would withdraw the felony charges for using the veterans’ charity email list in his campaign.
And no, there is no law preventing him from clawing his way back into Missouri politics because of his past questionable behavior.
This leads to a second question: Why would he subject himself to the overwhelming scrutiny of the political process with such a negative background? Part of any good campaign strategy is opposition research, digging up enough dirt on your opponent to have the voting populous not vote for him or her.
We know from past political campaigns and experiences that the negatives will be ignored by those who see the candidate as something special. This is especially true with those seeking the support of the political right-wing conservative movement.
It’s not that all Republicans will back Greitens for whatever office he will be considering. There are a lot of “ifs” floating around the proverbial table, depending on how high up the ladder Greitens wishes to climb.
Why is Greitens getting back into politics? His reasoning is his own, but the scuttlebutt around the water cooler is that he has his sights on the White House once he is back as a statewide elected official.
If Missouri’s current governor, Mike Parson, wins a second term, he will be term-limited out in 2024, making the governor’s office an open seat. If Missouri’s State Auditor and gubernatorial candidate Nicole Galloway wins the election, the 2024 gubernatorial seat will be a much-sought-after target on the Grand Old Party’s radar.
I came to Missouri in 2003 during the reign of Bob Holden and survived the leadership of Matt Blunt, both serving one four-year term. In fact, during Missouri’s history, most of the governors served only one term.
This leads me to speculate that the position Greitens will be seeking will be the governor’s office.
There is some precedent for this attempt to regain the seat of power in non-consecutive years. The most glaring example was former President Grover Cleveland. Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the U.S.
Here in Missouri, Kit Bond served two non-consecutive terms in 1973 and 1981, both for a single four-year term in office.
Should Missourians trust Greitens? It really depends on this year’s national election, the popularity of the president and if the president still believes Greitens is one of his favorites.
During Greitens’ shortened term in office, the president lavished praise on him and showed he was one of the president’s favorites. Greitens made several trips to the White House during his tenure as governor.
In fact, Trump had appointed Greitens, one of seven governors, to the Council of Governors in 2017.
Then, there was Greitens ending a longstanding state policy against using tax dollars to aid religious groups. Greitens had “instructed the Department of Natural Resources to allow religious organizations to apply for and be eligible to receive those grants …”
This lead to the Supreme Court action of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, the former director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, an interesting First Amendment case.
Greitens’ demise began in December 2017, when the Kansas City Star reported that he and his staff “of subverting Missouri’s open records laws” by using a messaging app that deleted messages once read.
Power can convince a person to do things they should not ever do. I believe Greitens’ past will come to haunt him in his future endeavors in Missouri and national politics. But then again, it did not stop Trump from being elected.