Missouri Gubernatorial Race: Both Candidates Flipped Parties As Views Evolved

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s gubernatorial race is now between a Republican who used to be a registered Democrat and a Democrat who once held elected office as a Republican.

Missouri has a Democratic candidate in Attorney General Chris Koster who has earned an “A” rating from the NRA in the past and in Navy Seal Eric Greitens, a man who attended the Democratic convention eight years ago.
But both of these candidates can list off several ways their political views have dramatically changed in the last decade.

Just six years ago, the House Democratic Campaign Committee in Washington was recruiting self-branded conservative outsider Eric Greitens — in hopes he would challenge a Republican for an eastern Missouri congressional seat.

“Both of my parents were Democrats, I think in 4th grade we learned Harry Truman was the greatest President we ever had, perhaps the greatest person who had ever lived,” Greitens said in a campaign video. “But I think there comes a point in your life where you start to learn from your own experience.”

That experience — military service, running a business and watching his friends navigate bureaucracy in the Veterans Administration caused Greitens to change his political tune.

“Caring for people means more than just spending taxpayer money; it means delivering results. It means respecting and challenging our citizens, telling them what they need to hear, not simply what they want to hear,” Greitens wrote in a 2015 Fox News opinion piece.

Meanwhile, Chris Koster represented Cass and Johnson counties in the Missouri senate as a Republican before he jumped parties in 2007.

Koster could not reconcile his views on social issues and his support of embryonic stem cell research with today’s Missouri GOP.

“At the age of 42, I’ve come to a fork in the road,” Koster said. “At such a juncture, a man can change his beliefs in order to preserve his party, or man can change his party to preserve his beliefs. Today, I choose the latter.”

Last summer at a gathering of state Democrats, Koster said he “got fed up living in a ‘pretend’ world of my former party, a ‘pretend’ world where every Missourian comes from a storybook family, and where everyone is healthy for their entire lives and teenagers never have sex.”

According to state campaign finance records, Koster has the fundraising edge so far in this race on Greitens. Greitens burned through cash ahead of the primary and has about $630,000 on hand, while Koster has more than $10 million in the bank.

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