With 145 bills sitting in the governor’s in-box waiting for signatures, lawmakers from all over the state are pensively waiting to see how they will be received by new Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.
Although the circumstances of Parson taking office can be looked at as a stain on the state by his predecessor Eric Greitens, lawmakers from Franklin County tell The Missourian they are looking forward to putting the past few months behind them and moving forward in a positive direction.
State Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, served with Parson in the Legislature, raised money and campaigned for him during his run for lieutenant governor, and considers him a personal friend.
“I have broken bread with Mike Parson on several occasions and I’m very confident he will do a good job as governor,” Schatz said. “It’s time to get back on focus. He is a rural guy and he understands those issues, but he can also relate to people in the cities. He also has a military background and is pro-law enforcement.”
Schatz added as lieutenant governor presiding over the Senate, Parson has had a firsthand look at the bills coming through the legislative process this session and should be up to speed on the big issues.
He added he feels the animosity between lawmakers and the governor’s office will ease now that one of their own, a former legislator, resides in the mansion.
“He’s a known commodity to many of us,” Schatz said. “He has humility, common sense and is the type of guy you can go to at any time. He understands the relationship between the second floor and the General Assembly.”
At the same time, he doesn’t take any joy in the fact a sitting governor has resigned.
“I don’t think anybody’s excited,” Schatz said. “At the end of the day what occurred was necessary and appropriate.”
From the outset of the allegations against Greitens, Schatz and other lawmakers representing Franklin County withheld their comments as to the governor’s future.
“I wanted to wait until I had all the facts and info before I came to a decision,” Schatz said. “I didn’t gain or lose anything by doing that.”
State Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, echoed the solemnness of the events over the last few days, saying it is a sad time for the state.
“Regardless of party affiliation or personal beliefs, the resignation of a governor should bring no joy to any Missourian,” Alferman said. “In spite of the rough weeks ahead, I am confident that the state will move forward.”
Alferman added Missouri is larger than one person and its residents will continue to prosper and grow.
In regards to the prospects of a new governor, Alferman said he has known Mike Parson for many years.
“I have complete confidence in his character and ability to lead our state with the utmost integrity and dedication to serving the public good,” Alferman said.
State Rep. Nate Tate, R-St. Clair, said nobody wins by what has happened to the governor and hopes whatever fallout will be short-term.
“When it comes to politics, people’s memories are short,” Tate said. “It’s time to get past this and get on with the business of the people.”
Tate added the gubernatorial transition should be smooth and there is a level of excitement among lawmakers to have a former legislator, who knows the process, in the governor’s office.
He added that experience may lead to the new governor visiting cities and towns across the state, including Franklin County, on a more regular basis.
“I first met Mike on the campaign trail in Villa Ridge in 2016 and he seemed like a great guy,” Tate said. “After we both won, I’ve talked with him dozens of times. Every time I take a tour group through the second floor offices, no matter what he is doing, he always takes the time to say hello and take pictures. I’ve always been impressed with that.”
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt released a statement shortly after Gov. Eric Greitens announced his resignation as well.
“The governor made the best decision for his family and the state,” Blunt said. “I look forward to Gov. Parson’s leadership and will do everything I can to be helpful.”
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer said he is looking forward to new leadership.
“I have been disturbed by the allegations surrounding Gov. Greitens over the past few months,” Luetkemeyer said. “This has been a distraction for our entire state and undermined his ability to lead. I am hopeful we can quickly put this behind us and Missouri can move forward under new leadership.”
Although critical of Greitens in recent months, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill simply said she is looking forward to working with Mike Parson.