Missouri Governor Eric Greitens announced his resignation Tuesday, which means the state’s lieutenant governor Mike Parson will now take over for Greitens. Parson couldn’t be more different than the man he is replacing; a farm boy from rural southwest Missouri, Parson has held elected office since 1993, including 12 years as Polk County sheriff and 11 years in the Missouri General Assembly before being elected lieutenant governor in 2016, according to his biography.
Amid scandals accusing Greitens sexual misconduct and misusing a charity donor list, the Republican governor announced his resignation Tuesday afternoon. Although Greitens did not admit to any legal wrongdoing when he announced his resignation, he claimed that he is “not perfect” and indicated that the scrutiny he was under had become too intense to continue as governor, according to CNN.
Here’s what you need to know about his replacement:
1. Parson is a Strong Advocate for Veterans Affairs, Senior Citizens, Agriculture and Tourism
Parson was elected Missouri’s 47th Lieutenant Governor on November 8, 2016. He won by a landslide, taking 110 of Missouri’s 114 counties, and received the most votes of any Lieutenant Governor in Missouri history, according to his biography.
During Parson’s first year in office, the Office of Lieutenant Governor launched the “Buy Missouri” initiative, spearheaded an investigation at the St. Louis Veterans Home, and became a strong advocate for agriculture, veterans, seniors, and tourism, his biography states.
During the rest of his time in office, Parson has championed tax credits for ethanol and beef producers, pushed for pro-business legal changes and backed legislation for looser gun regulations, according to St. Louis Dispatch.
His biography states that he also was inducted into the Missouri Farmers Care Hall of Fame, won the Missouri Grocers Association Capitol Impact Award, and named Ingram’s 50 Missourians You Should Know 2018 list.
“Parson resides in Bolivar with his wife Teresa,” according to his biography. “Together they have two grown children and five grandchildren. He was raised on a farm in Hickory County, and graduated from Wheatland High School in Wheatland, Missouri. He is a small business owner and is a third generation farmer who currently owns and operates a cow and calf operation near Bolivar.”
2. Parson was Backed by Speaker of the House Steven Tilley and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard
According to his biography, “Parson served the people of the 28th Senatorial District in the Missouri Senate from 2011-2017. He served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2005-2011. Lieutenant Governor Parson also served as the Sheriff of Polk County from 1993-2005. He also served six years in the U.S. Army.”
His biography states that while in the Missouri Senate, Parson chaired the Small Business, Insurance & Industry Committee and during his first two years served as Majority Whip. While serving in the House of Representatives, he was chair of the House Rules Committee and sponsored and co-sponsored several landmark pieces of legislation including Missouri’s Castle Doctrine and the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment. The Castle Doctrine strengthened 2nd Amendment rights and the Farming Rights Amendment was a piece of legislation that “changed the Missouri Constitution to guarantee all Missourians the right to farm and ranch.”
He reported receiving thousands of dollars from Speaker of the House Steven Tilley, who has been a lobbyist since 2012, according to St. Louis Dispatch.
“Parson also has accepted campaign contributions from Senate President Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and two other senators — Sens. Gary Romine of Farmington and Libla of Poplar Bluff — who are vocal opponents of Greitens,” the Dispatch states.
3. Parsons Often “Feuded” with Greitens on Policies and Legislature But Was a Highly Respected Individual
Former Senator Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican who was appointed by Greitens to the Public Service Commission last month, said he sat next to Parson for two years when the two served in the House, according to St. Louis Post Dispatch. In the Senate, Silvey says he often feuded with Greitens.
“He (Parson) has deep relationships in the Legislature,” Silvey told St. Louis Dispatch. “He understands the importance of getting along with people to move policy forward. I think it would be a night-and-day difference in how the state operates. I don’t think we would have senators standing on the Senate floor every day rattling off a list of complaints about Mike Parson and how he’s operating.”
“He’s got a good outlook on what the economic development needs (of the state) are,” said Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff. “He’s a highly respected individual.”
James Harris, a veteran GOP consultant who worked on Parson’s campaign for lieutenant governor, claims that the biggest differences between Parson and Greitens are their personalities rather than their political beliefs. Harris said that, while Greitens often seem to “relish conflict,” Parson sought consensus during his time in office.
“Even if he disagreed, he would talk with everyone and try to understand their thought process,” Harris said.
4. Parson was Against Zeroing Out a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Claiming it Would Be Harder to Support Veterans and Low-Income Missourians
According to The Kansas City Star, Parson and Greitens “vehemently disagreed” on the issue of low-income housing tax credits.
“Greitens has suggested that Missouri’s tax credit industry has conspired to exacerbate his legal problems,” the Kansas City Star reports. “The Missouri Housing Development Commission, or MHDC, of which Greitens is a member, zeroed out the state’s allocation of low-income housing tax credits after the governor stacked its membership with appointees critical of the program.”
Greitens called those involved in Missouri’s tax credit industry “ripoff artists” and “tax credit millionaires” at a May 17 event in Jefferson City. Parson, who is also on the MHDC, was one of only two members to vote against zeroing out the low-income housing tax credit program. He argued that doing so will make it harder to provide housing to low-income Missourians and military veterans.
5. Greitens is Facing Charges of Sexual Misconduct & Misusing a Charity Donor List
According to CNN, a Missouri state House committee released a report accusing Greitens of “subjecting a woman to non-consensual sexual activity and violence.” Greitens continues to deny the accusations, calling the report “tabloid trash gossip rooted in lies and falsehoods.”
“This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family,” he said. “Millions of dollars of mounting legal bills, endless personal attacks designed to cause maximum damage to family and friends. Legal harassment of colleagues, friends and campaign workers and it’s clear that for the forces that oppose us, there is no end in sight. I cannot allow those forces to continue to cause pain and difficulty to the people that I love.”