Former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, who has never before sought elective office, said on Saturday that he is running for Missouri governor as a Republican in 2016.
Greitens played up his political inexperience while criticizing government during an announcement in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights.
“I’m running for Governor because we need a political outsider to move Missouri forward. Like you, I’m tired of the career politicians and lobbyists who are ruining our state,” Greitens said.
Greitens, 41, served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, was a Rhodes Scholar and White House fellow and has written three books that combine stories of his military service and humanitarian work with lessons on leadership. He’s a founder of the nonprofit group The Mission Continues, which connects veterans with volunteer work to ease the post-military transition.
Greitens is also a former Democrat who just a few years ago was recruited by the party to run for Congress. He opened a campaign committee in February that allowed him to collect money before publicly declaring his intent.
His entrance into the race to succeed Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election, adds to an already crowded field of Republican contenders.
Former U.S. Attorney and former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and Springfield state Sen. Bob Dixon have officially entered the race. Suburban St. Louis businessman John Brunner is expected to join as well.
Attorney General Chris Koster – a former Republican who switched parties as a state senator in 2007 – is the only Democrat who has said he intends to seek the state’s top executive office.
Campaign finance records show that Greitens has raised more than $1 million in recent months, boosting his total haul to more than $2 million. In terms of raising money this year, that appears to put him well ahead of Hanaway, his next closest GOP fundraising competitor, who has been running for governor for more than a year.