This year’s Missouri governor race is one of the most intensely followed statewide elections in the country with vast amounts of money pouring in.
The contest is being driven by national business and labor groups which are locked in a battle over collective bargaining.
If Republican Eric Greitens is elected, many think Missouri will become a “Right to Work” state, meaning unions will be barred from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition for employment.
Dan Mehan with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce contends “Right to Work” status will revive the state’s lagging productivity. “From 2004 to 2014, we were 42nd in job growth, 43rd in state GDP and 37th in per capita income increase” said Mehan. “Those are the facts. That’s what we’re trying to change.”
Mehan further contends the state would benefit from an improved economy with a “Right to Work” law. “We believe that that would help our job creation, that that would help our opportunities thrive in the state of Missouri. We’ve seen it happen in other states. States that get it right are flourishing. States that don’t, won’t”.
Democratic State Senator Gina Walsh thinks Right to Work laws are an attack on labor. She also claims they have no impact business decisions. “We’ve never had a major manufacturing company, or a big production company, come in here and say ‘We didn’t come to Missouri because you’re not a right to work state’. Not one.”
Walsh further says large Missouri based corporations haven’t appeared in front of lawmakers asking for Right to Work legislation. “None of our big players, I’ve never heard Anheuser-Busch come and testify for these bills, or any of the utilities. You just don’t see it.”
Democrat Chris Koster, who’s received over $5 million in campaign funding from labor groups, had a double-digit lead over Greitens in recent polling.
Mehan with the Missouri Chamber thinks the gubernatorial race will be the most expensive election for a state office ever. “You’ll see national money come. You’ll see both sides dig in extremely deeply and fight it out.” Mehan thinks $40 million could end up being spent on the race.