John Brunner is officially in. He is the fifth Republican to announce he is running for Missouri governor.
Brunner is a former U.S. Marine and promotes himself as a political outsider. At least one of his opponents in the Republican primary race, former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, can make the same claims.
Brunner, though, says he’s more focused on illustrating the differences between himself and the lone Democratic candidate, Attorney General Chris Koster, than the contrast between himself and the other GOP challengers.
“You have a contrast between a trial lawyer versus a person that’s been in business and manufacturing for decades, a politician versus a Marine,” said Brunner.
Brunner spent about $8-million of his own dollars in the 2012 race for the U.S. Senate, in which he lost the nomination to former U.S. Representative Todd Akin. Brunner told Missourinet his gubernatorial campaign won’t run out of money, but he has supporters other than himself.
“This will be a team effort across the state,” said Brunner. “Now that I’ve declared and now that the contrast between me and Chris Koster will be made clear, we believe that we’ll be able to do a great job raising the funds we need to be able to win this race.”
Brunner, like other candidates, is also touting ethics reform, calling it an issue he was willing to pursue on his own as governor if the state legislature fails to send him a proposal.
“Folks across the state don’t think a lot of Jefferson City and that’s unfortunate, but we can change that,” said Brunner. “All the expenditures and travel junkets and all of those things that are going on in Jefferson City, and I’ll ban all the gifts and these golf trips to Vegas.”
Brunner said he would pursue an ethics reform ballot issue if he legislature doesn’t propose reforms.
State legislative leaders have said an ethics reform bill will be a priority again in the 2016 legislative session.
Brunner also said “right-to-work” will become law if he becomes governor, “along with 1,000 other good things that make our state more competitive. There is no one, single issue.”
It is likely that the next governor will also inherit the lowest paid, or close to it, state employee workforce in the nation. Brunner says a long-term solution is needed.
“Let’s take what’s happened today. All of a sudden there’s 300-million of funds. ‘Well we need to scramble and see what we can do for state employees.’ This is not the way to treat people. You need a plan. You need to have a personnel plan and to have competent people in charge to be sure that wages and benefits and all are comparable to what’s provided in the private sector as well.”
He said he’s also concerned about teacher pay.
“New Teachers are paid 47th in the country. If we’re going to have the right division and set the right priorities, why are new teachers’ salaries 47th?”
Brunner is challenging former U.S. Attorney and Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, Springfield state senator Bob Dixon, and former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens.
Brunner actually kicked off his campaign Sunday night in front of about 200 supporters in St. Louis.