The Buzz

Mike Parson’s aim: He’ll stay positive and focus on farming, ethics reform

Mike and Teresa Parson
Mike and Teresa Parson

Saying he’s tired of the same ol’, same ol’ in Missouri politics, Republican state Sen. Mike Parson on Thursday launched his bid for govenor by pledging to run an upbeat campaign with a focus on agriculture and reforming state politics.

“I'm OK with going out and talking about who Mike Parson is,” the Bolivar farmer said. “If you want to vote for me on that, that's fine. I’m not out there to destroy people. I just think we need to do away with the way we’ve been doing it.”

Parson, 59, was outspoken about the negative nature of state politics in the aftermath of former state Auditor Tom Schweich’s suicide. Parson said the political culture contributed to Schweich’s death.

The third-generation farmer and former Polk County sheriff joins a growing GOP field that also includes Catherine Hanaway, the former House speaker who for much of the past few months was regarded as the race’s frontrunner. His entry presents an intriguing urban-rural dynamic that almost certainly will add a new dynamic to the race.

“Do you want a governor who understands the importance of agriculture in our state by being a farmer himself?” Parson asked in remarks prepared for his campaign kickoff late Thursday afternoon in Bolivar.

But he reserved some of his strongest remarks when he addressed the state’s political culture.

“I have talked with many of you here at home and to thousands of folks just like you as I have traveled around this state and the common message I have heard is that Missourians are tired of the `business as usual’ approach to Missouri politics,” he said. “Missourians are fed up with politicians running each other through the mud with attack ads and even worse.”

In an interview with The Buzz, Parson said campaign transparency is key, meaning that citizens should be able to easily identify the sources of campaign donations. He said he might be able to support campaign donation limits if the new law ensured “true transparency.”

Missouri remains one of the few states in the country with unlimited campaign donations.