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As Missouri Republicans Rebel Against Parson, Lockdown Order Emerges As Key Issue in GOP Primary

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Missouri’s Republican gubernatorial primary is getting heated — and that’s bad news for Governor Mike Parson.
Yesterday, hundreds of right-wing protestors arrived in Jefferson City to protest Governor Mike Parson’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic  — including four legislators — and at least one car with a “Parsons (sic) has to go” sign. One of Parson’s primary opponents, state Representative Jim Neely, was on-site at the rally and, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was staffed by one of the event organizers. The protest felt so political, and anti-Parson, that the organizer was forced to deny to press that the protest was actually a Neely campaign event. 
Parson is clearly feeling the pressure. Yesterday things looked so bad that the Missouri GOP had to put out a release insisting that they “support Governor Parson.” The governor’s allies spent over $1.5 million in ads trying to unsuccessfully avoid a primary challenge. Now, he faces not one but three opponents — including a former statewide candidate who has also been a vocal critic of Parson’s response to the virus. In recent days, Parson has been forced to reverse himself on a critical step in the state’s recovery: expanded testing. Last week, Parson promised that he wouldn’t reopen Missouri until the state was conducting 40,000 to 50,000 tests each week. Yet as the pressure from his own primary opponents has increased, Parson has dropped that standard and insisted he will move forward with opening up the state even if more testing isn’t available — even as cases continue to “rise dramatically” in some parts of the state. 
“Mike Parson is an accidental governor who has failed to protect Missourians’ public health during this crisis — and can’t even hold his own party together,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director Christina Amestoy. “Instead of doing what is right for Missouri, Parson is listening to the most extreme voices in the party and trying to save his increasingly embattled campaign.”