JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway launched her Democratic campaign for governor Monday by highlighting her efforts to uncover government waste and criticizing a new state law banning most abortions at the eighth week of pregnancy.
Galloway formally jumped into the 2020 race ahead of Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who is expected to announce his candidacy after Labor Day.
Though she didn't mention Parson by name, Galloway took several jabs at his administration while painting a picture of a culture of corruption in Jefferson City — the same tactic that Republican Eric Greitens successfully used to win the governor's office in 2016.
"Dark money flows from corporations and lobbyists. The governor takes their money then does their bidding. Nothing gets done for you," Galloway said in her roughly two-minute long announcement video.
Galloway, 37, of Columbia, is Missouri's only Democratic statewide officeholder. She had been serving as Boone County treasurer in April 2015 when she was appointed as auditor to succeed Republican Tom Schweich, who killed himself. She won a four-year term last year and can run for governor without having to give up her current office.
Parson, 63, of Bolivar, is a former sheriff and state lawmaker who won election as lieutenant governor in 2016. Parson took over as governor after Greitens resigned in June 2018 while facing potential impeachment proceedings over allegations of sexual and political misconduct.
Parson campaign manager Steele Shippy touted federal and state tax cuts enacted under Republican administrations.
"Governor Parson and Missouri Republican leadership have not only paved the way for prosperity but also improved the lives of Missourians," Shippy said in a written statement responding to Galloway's announcement. "Missouri cannot afford Liberal Nicole's agenda which would turn back the clock on these successes."
During her four years as auditor, Galloway says her office has identified about $350 million of waste and fraud. She said her audits of local governmental entities have led to 40 criminal charges against 18 individuals.
In recent months, Galloway has increasingly criticized Parson's administration.
In her announcement, she described as "outrageous" a law signed by Parson that prohibits abortions starting at the eighth week of pregnancy with no exception for cases of rape or incest. The law does include exceptions for medical emergencies, such as a risk of death or permanent physical injuries to "a major bodily function of the pregnant woman."
Parson, when signing the bill, said: "All life has value and is worth protecting."
Galloway also criticized Republican proposals that would undo parts of a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 that requires state House and Senate districts to be drawn to achieve "partisan fairness" and "competitiveness." Republicans currently hold large legislative majorities, and an Associated Press analysis has found that Democrats are likely to gain seats under the amendment.
"The governor and the Legislature are trying to undo the law and the will of the voters," Galloway said in her video. "It's a broken system, the old way of doing politics. As auditor, I've fought it. As governor, I'll end it.
"I'll take a new approach — one that's open, that puts your needs first, your health care, your wages, your family," Galloway added.
Galloway enters the gubernatorial race at a financial disadvantage to Parson.
Her campaign committee had about $133,000 as of the end of June, compared with more than $1.1 million for Parson, according to the most recent state finance reports.
A separate pro-Parson committee, Uniting Missouri PAC, had nearly $2.9 million at the end of June and has received $45,000 in large contributions since then. A separate pro-Galloway committee, Keep Government Accountable, had about $21,000 at the end of June but has received at least $188,000 in large contributions since then.
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