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Brunner announces he's running for Missouri governor

The Republican field for Missouri governor has grown larger. St. Louis businessman John Brunner announced his candidacy this morning in a pre-recorded YouTube video.

"My entire life experience has prepared me for this mission; I am ready to serve," Brunner said in the video.  "America can be reclaimed one state at a time, and it begins right here in Missouri!"

John Brunner appears on a recent Politically Speaking podcast.  Brunner announced his candidacy for Mo. governor today.
Credit Jason Rosenbaum|St. Louis Public Radio
John Brunner appears on a recent Politically Speaking podcast. Brunner announced his candidacy for Mo. governor today.

Brunner, 63,joins a crowded Republican field for governor. It includes Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, state Sen. Bob Dixon, former House Speaker CatherineHanaway and fellow businessman and former Navy SEAL EricGreitens.

Attorney General Chris Koster is expected to be the sole Democrat running for governor. He has yet to officially announce his intentions.

Brunner has never held elected office, but it's not his first foray into politics, as he finished a close second to Todd Akin four years ago in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

"We're gonna build a bigger grass-roots organization this time," Brunner said, "and frankly the message of an outside businessperson as governor, as CEO (of the state) ... this is a compelling story."

After defeating Brunner, Akin lost in November 2012 to Democratic incumbent ClaireMcCaskillafter his "legitimate rape" comment.

Brunner's platform

So far, Brunner's campaign for Missouri governor is centering on four bullet points:

  • Job creation
  • Education reform
  • Ethics reform
  • Fighting "unnecessary and burdensome" federal regulations

Brunner cites his experience running Vi-Jon, the company founded by his grandparents that produces the Germ-X brand of hand sanitizers and other personal care products.

"I'll reach out to fellow business leaders across the country," Brunner said in his official announcement, "talking manufacturer to manufacturer, to convince them that Missouri will be the right place for them to build and grow their business. I'll tear down the barriers to opportunity and promote Missouri as an economic freedom zone."

He also cited his experience as a Marine Corps officer as giving him the necessary leadership skills to serve as governor.

On education, Brunner is opposed to Common Core, which he labels as a "top-down, one size fits all" bureaucratic system championed by "(President Barack) Obama, (Gov. Jay) Nixon and Koster.

"Local school boards, parents and teachers need to be back in charge," Brunner said.  "Teachers need the freedom to teach. With three generations of teachers in my family … I know this works."

On ethics reform, Brunner said that Jefferson City needs to earn back the respect of Missourians.

"On day one, for every agency under my control I'll ban all travel junkets and all gifts to all members of my administration – and end the revolving door of influence pedaling," Brunner said.  "I'll call on the General Assembly and other statewide officers to do the same for their departments. And if the legislature won't pass my tough new ethics laws, then I'll lead the effort to place an initiative on the ballot."

Brunner did not specify, though, whether those ethics reforms should include campaign contribution limits, but he seemed to suggest that such limits would mainly benefit incumbents with strong name recognition.

"In our business it would be a brand like Listerine or Coca Cola having brand ID," Brunner said.  "You want to be able to ensure that those who are challenging the incumbents have the opportunity to challenge the incumbents."

Brunner also called the recent scandals over the treatment of legislative interns "disgusting," and indicated that future policy positions on ethics may address that issue.

On federal regulations, Brunner seems to be touting the same message as the Republican majorities in the Missouri House and Senate.

"As governor, I will fight in court – and through every other means available – the unfunded federal mandates and extreme, burdensome regulations," he said in his official statement.  "These mandates hurt our farmers, manufacturers, and businesses. They raise family utility bills and kill good jobs."

And if the GOP is able to win control of the state attorney general's office next year, Brunner added, "we'll team-up to fight the regulators and kick them back across the Potomac – where they belong."

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Copyright 2020 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.
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