ICYMI: As COVID-19 Cases Ravage Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson Doesn’t Have a Plan for the Future
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads “unchecked” in Missouri, it’s clear the state needs to change its strategy of “personal responsibility” and stop ignoring public health experts. Unfortunately, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson thinks the state is “on the right track” and hasn’t offered a vision for the future.
Over the weekend, the Kansas City Star criticized Parson for failing to offer Missourians a vision for the next four years, noting his campaign messaging is vague and his website contains “no issues or policy page.” The Star said Parson “often talks about the past when questioned about the future.”
If the past is any indication, the future under a Parson administration looks bleak. Parson has railed against access to affordable health care and Medicaid expansion, has given preferential treatment to lobbyists and campaign insiders, has abused taxpayer dollars, and has ignored public health experts on the pandemic and failed to implement a mask mandate, even though it was recommended by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
By contrast, Democratic candidate Nicole Galloway offers Missourians hope and a clear vision for the future. Galloway “has released a series of plans for addressing crime, healthcare and the pandemic – for instance, promising to issue a statewide mask mandate if elected.”
Read more about Parson’s failure to offer Missourians a vision for the future below.
At campaign stops and official events, the most important day on Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s calendar is day one.
“We’ve took a balanced approach from day one,” he said of COVID-19 during a debate this month.
“We’re very focused on getting those licenses out there, getting medical marijuana up, and it’s been in the plan since day one,” he told reporters in September.
Missouri has been “on the frontline from day one and doing the best we can to take care of people,” he said Thursday.
As Election Day nears, the Republican governor often talks about the past when questioned about the future. His pitch to voters for a full four-year term relies almost exclusively on his record in the two years since the former lieutenant governor from Bolivar took office following the resignation of Eric Greitens.
While many incumbents tend to focus on their past performance while making vague promises about the future, it’s especially true of Parson. His campaign message offers only scattered evidence of a forward-looking agenda. The website contains no issues or policy page. Instead, a “Meet Mike” page includes a section on his record as governor.
By contrast his Democratic opponent, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, has released a series of plans for addressing crime, healthcare and the pandemic – for instance, promising to issue a statewide mask mandate if elected.
The exact agenda of a 2020-2024 Parson administration is difficult to determine. Broadly, the campaign suggests voters shouldn’t expect significant changes to his COVID-19 response or efforts to combat violent crime if he is elected. Long-running priorities, such as improving Missouri roads, are likely to remain.
“I would say kind of a continuation of some of his policies,” James Harris, a Jefferson City-based Republican strategist with ties to Parson, said in describing a possible full Parson term.
Parson has a two-year record of governing to show Missourians how he views the world, Harris said. “That’s better than just rhetoric,” he added.
But Galloway has attacked the governor over the lack of detail.
“Governor Parson has no plan, no vision, I don’t know that he even cares,” Galloway said in a message to supporters soon after she secured the Democratic nomination in August.
The most pressing issue in Missouri, the pandemic, illustrates how Parson relies on past actions when asked about how he would govern in the future. Since March, the virus has infected more than 152,000 residents and killed 2,459.
Parson has held firm against a statewide mask order, despite pressure from Galloway, Democrats and health professionals. While he has used a state of emergency to marshal resources to assist hospitals, nursing homes and coordinate other parts of the state’s virus response, he has largely left decisions about COVID-19 restrictions to local jurisdictions.
At Missouri’s only gubernatorial debate earlier this month, the moderator asked the candidates what additional steps, if any, should be taken in responding to the virus. Of the four candidates on stage, only Parson answered without proposing any changes.
“And we are on the right track on this state, but we have to do a combination of fighting a virus, fighting (for the) economy, and getting our kids back in school,” he said.
Beyond COVID-19 and crime, Parson has long emphasized economic issues, including infrastructure and workforce development. In his January State of the State address, before the pandemic engulfed Missouri, Parson invoked both topics over and over.
Parson’s campaign site says he’s been “laser-focused” on workforce development and infrastructure.
For how long?
“From Day One,” it says.