Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander on Tuesday certified the candidacy of an independent candidate for Missouri governor who appears to have an evangelical bent.
The candidate is Lester Turilli of Stanton, Missouri. He has more than three dozen large highway billboard placed around the state. His vision for the state?
“To awaken her as the heart of the nation to lead her in a revival of faith, hope and love.”
If Turilli proves appealing to the Christian conservative wing of the Republican Party, that could peel votes away from GOP nominee Eric Greitens who has struggled to win over that group in the early going of the general election campaign.
Turilli, 46, calls himself anti-abortion and told The Buzz, “Every problem we have in our country can actually be traced back to a spiritual issue.”
From his campaign website bio:
He is driven to run a campaign that will help the people of Missouri to encounter Jesus in a real and personal way. Turilli is deeply passionate about the Bible and uses Scripture to guide his views and political platform. “Although people may disagree with my foundation, they can respect me in knowing that my beliefs, character, and strength are solid and not wavering, and not built on shifting sand.”
Turilli, an executive in his family business of Meramec Caverns and Caveman Zipline near St. Louis, said some of his issue stances align more with Democrats. One of those is his opposition to anti-union right-to-work laws. Another is his support of campaign-donation limits.
“I’m like most Missourians,” the political newcomer said. “Just tired of politics, tired of both party systems.”
Campaign records filed with the state showed that Turilli’s campaign had $703 in the bank at the end of June. Turilli himself had spent about $16,825 on the race while Meramec Caverns had spent $16,000.
His campaign collected more than 100,000 signatures over 10 months to qualify Turilli for the ballot.