Greitens promises allies and the public that he'll have their back in Jefferson City

Jan 9, 2017
Originally published on January 9, 2017 12:45 pm

As Missouri Governor-elect Eric Greitens prepares to be sworn in Monday, he’s completing a week filled with thanking the folks who helped get him there.

“I will always remember that I am standing here because of you,’’ Greitens said Saturday as he addressed supporters gathered in a Maryland Heights warehouse for his last official rally before taking office.

Greitens explained it’s that belief that prompted him to cancel the traditional inaugural parade in Jefferson City. Instead, he is holding a ceremony in the state Capitol’s rotunda that highlights farmers and public employees such as educators, physicians, firefighters, police and veterans.

“It was a parade that celebrated politicians,’’ Greitens said. “We wanted to take the focus off of the politicians and put it on the people of Missouri and their service and sacrifice.”

He then reaffirmed his oft-repeated campaign mantra: “We’re going to put an end to ‘politics as usual’ and we’re going to Jefferson City to fight for you.”

Greitens has yet to get too specific, other than to highlight his top priorities of improving education, defending law enforcement, promoting job creation and bolstering ethics.

Right after his swearing in, Greitens plans to issue a number of executive orders. He said Saturday that he’s keeping their contents secret until Monday.

Greitens also has yet to fill dozens of top state-government jobs. A spokesman said the governor-elect is being methodical, and conducting a national search to fill many of them.

His latest high-profile hire, announced this week, is former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman to head the state’s Office of Administration – in effect, the governor’s chief administrative department. It includes the budget division as well as oversight of government spending, personnel and state-government buildings. 

Earlier major appointments include:

  • Anne Precythe, Corrections
  • Chris Chinn, Agriculture
  • Drew Juden, Public Safety
  • Gregg Favre, Deputy Director Public Safety

The governor-elect’s team also was behind the decision of the St. Louis County Election Board to hire former state Rep. Rick Stream as its new Republican elections director.

A spokesman said that temporary directors of other state departments may be put in place while Greitens continues his selection process.

Takes inspiration from prayers and Churchill

Aside from the week's work of public events, Greitens also has made a point at stopping at places of worship. He visited a local synagogue on Saturday (Greitens is Jewish), and plans to stop by a Baptist church in outstate Missouri on Sunday. 

On Sunday night, Greitens plans to be at a event in Fulton, Mo. to highlight legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was a major figure during World War II.  Greitens has been inspired by some of Churchill's writings, a spokesman said.

Greitens is a former Navy SEAL, a bestselling author and the founder of The Mission Continues, a nonprofit charity set up to help returning military veterans rebuild their lives.

Greitens is a St. Louis County native and  has never before held public office. But he has emphasized through his campaign that his  lack of governmental experience was a plus – saying he will provide a fresh approach and wouldn't be beholden to political tradition or special interests.

He is among five new statewide officials who will take office Monday. All are Republicans. Two others  Secretary of State-elect Jay Ashcroft and Attorney General Josh Hawley  share Greitens' lack of political experience.

At Saturday’s rally, Greitens got choked up as he singled out key supporters during his year-long quest – notably his father, Rob Greitens, who stood in the back of the gathering.

The elder Greitens said in a brief interview afterwards that he had high hopes for his son.

“I am really excited. I am really happy,’’ Rob Greitens said. “People are starting to notice that he’s is going to do it differently. It’s going to be different, and it’s going to be for the people of Missouri.”

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