Former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens has officially declared his candidacy for governor. The best-selling author and founder of the nonprofit group The Mission Continues announced his bid on Saturday at Westport Plaza in Maryland Heights.
“I’m here because Missouri needs a conservative governor who’s willing to take on the career politicians and do what’s right to get Missouri moving forward again,” Greitens said to a crowd of supporters.
The candidate stressed his hands-on approach as a political outsider willing to get results, stating that once in office he would act as a “budget hawk” and hold each government agency accountable for money spent.
Greitens went on to declare himself pro-life, in favor of free enterprise and small government, and a “conservative warrior” for the protection of religious liberties.
Attendees waved signs and cheered enthusiastically as Greitens admitted to being new to the political scene.
“I promise you that as a first-time candidate, I’m not going to run a perfect campaign. I’m not a politician,” Greitens said. “What I can tell you is I will always tell you the truth and I’m not going to play any games.”
Though he has never before held office, Democrats tried unsuccessfully to recruit Greitens to run for a congressional seat in 2010.
The former Navy SEAL cited his experience in his four tours of duty as well as his humanitarian work with veterans as a source of motivation for his hands-on approach to government.
“This is not a campaign, it is a mission. It is a mission to turn Missouri around,” Greitens said.
The event in Maryland Heights kicks off a statewide tour of media appearances for Greitens.
The announcement puts Greitens into a shifting Republican race for the party’s 2016 nomination for governor. Former state representative Randy Asbury became on Friday the latest Republican to step out of that race, citing difficulty competing financially with better-connected candidates. Businessman and former Marine John Brunner is expected to next week follow Greitens in making his campaign official.
Former Missouri House Speaker and U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway has been running for governor since February, 2014, and Peter Kinder, in his third term as Lieutenant Governor, announced his campaign in July.