Government & Politics

Missouri Gov. Parson hints at 2020 run, ‘looks forward’ to campaign trail challenges

Missouri Gov. Parson outlines priorities in State of the State address

Missouri Governor Mike Parson outlined his priorities in his State of the State address Wednesday afternoon in Jefferson City.
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Missouri Governor Mike Parson outlined his priorities in his State of the State address Wednesday afternoon in Jefferson City.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he is waiting until September to make it official, but gave the strongest indication yet that he will seek the governor’s office in 2020.

“I think there will be an announcement coming in September sometime — officially an announcement in September sometime,” Parson told reporters in Kansas City, while sitting next to First Lady Teresa Parson. “But right now, we’re focused on being governor, and we look forward to the challenges of the campaign trail coming up.”

Reinforcing the likelihood of a 2020 run was Parson’s appointment of a new campaign manager earlier in the day, though in that announcement Parson indicated he was still considering his options.

“As Teresa and I consider seeking re-election, we have been encouraged by the overwhelming support of individuals from all across Missouri,” Parson said in a statement. “As we look to the future, it is imperative that we have someone leading the effort who not only shares our dedication to the people of Missouri but also believes in the vision we have for our great state.”

Parson was in Kansas City to visit its new mayor, Quinton Lucas, on his inauguration day. Later in the day, he was scheduled to leave for Australia for a 10-day trade mission.

Parson tapped his communications director, Steele Shippy, as his campaign manager.

An Odessa native, Shippy, 30, ran Jay Ashcroft’s campaign for secretary of state in 2016 and has also served as the executive assistant to then-GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. After Ashcroft won, Shippy became his deputy chief of staff.

Shippy moved to the governor’s office once Parson ascended from lieutenant governor to governor, following the resignation of then-Gov. Eric Greitens last year.

“Steele has been with us from day one in the Governor’s office and understands the allegiance Teresa and I have to our great state and its citizens,” Parson said in a statement. “He also shares our strong belief in our role as public servants, working for the people of Missouri.”

In a statement, Shippy said it was honor to serve the governor’s office and he would miss working alongside dedicated public servants. Shippy’s job will be taken over by the governor’s deputy communications director, Kelli Jones.

“I will, however, continue to be a strong advocate for Governor Parson’s bold agenda to reform state government, rebuild our infrastructure, and develop Missouri’s workforce,” Shippy said. “It’s time to get to work on Team Parson 2020.”

Parson, a Republican, ultimately could face State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who has not made an official announcement but has aimed an especially withering critique at Parson recently. Galloway, a Democrat, won her statewide race last year and has about $200,000 in campaign accounts.

Along with his affiliated political action committee Uniting Missouri, Parson has built up a campaign war chest of more than $3 million.

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Crystal Thomas covers Missouri politics for The Kansas City Star. An Illinois native and a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, she has experience covering state and local government.
Allison Kite reports on City Hall and local politics for The Star. She joined the paper in February 2018 and covered Midterm election races on both sides of the state line. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with minors in economics and public policy from the University of Kansas.