Missouri’s two major gubernatorial candidates clashed during a Friday afternoon debate in Columbia on numerous issues, including Clean Missouri, COVID, Medicaid expansion and valet parking at the Capitol.

The debate, which took place at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia, was sponsored by the Missouri Press Association.

Missouri voters approved Clean Missouri in November 2018. It had several provisions, including one requiring a nonpartisan demographer to draw state legislative districts.

Governor Mike Parson (R) opposed Clean Missouri and supports Amendment Three, which will appear on your November ballot. Amendment Three transfers the responsibility of drawing the districts from the demographer to a governor-appointed bipartisan commission.

“None of the big money behind this ever talked about how the redistricting would work, they talked about everything but that (in 2018),” Parson says. “This is a major shift in how we do elections in the state of Missouri.”

But Auditor Nicole Galloway, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, disagrees. She backed Clean Missouri in 2018 and opposes Amendment Three.

“In November of 2018, over 60 percent of voters said they want a fair, transparent government and they wanted to get rid of gerrymandering,” says Galloway.

The candidates also blasted each other over COVID. Galloway says Missouri physicians support a statewide mask requirement.

“Because it is a proven way to contain the spread of the virus, protect the public health, get our economy going again,” Galloway says.

Governor Parson says he’s taken a balanced approach on COVID and has also emphasized the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“You’ve got to be able to deal with the virus, you got to be able to deal with the economy, you’ve got to get kids back in school safely,” Parson says.

They also clashed over the recent special session on violent crime, with Galloway saying the governor “struck out.”

The Legislature did approve two of Governor Parson’s top priorities during the special session: a witness protection program and legislation eliminating the residency requirement for St. Louis police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel. But the Legislature did not pass the governor’s proposals regarding juvenile certification and one involving St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s (D) office.

Governor Parson says the special session was successful, and will help against violent crime.

The two candidates also had differing opinions on the cost of Medicaid expansion and also clashed on valet parking at the State Capitol in Jefferson City, an issue that hasn’t been talked about much during the campaign.

Governor Parson accuses Galloway of politicizing her office, and Galloway says Parson has failed the test of leadership.

Libertarian nominee Rik Combs and Green Party nominee Jerome Bauer also participated in the debate, which was produced by KOMU-TV in Columbia. The debate aired live in mid-Missouri on Channel 8.

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