Former Navy SEAL Greitens sworn in as governor of Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Former Navy SEAL officer Eric Greitens was sworn into office Monday as Missouri governor, pledging to bring an outsider’s perspective to a state that for the first time will be overseen by a GOP governor paired with supermajorities of Republicans in the Legislature.
Greitens took the oath of office around noon in front of the Capitol building and a crowd of more than 6,000 people on a chilly, overcast day. The state’s first Jewish governor placed a hand on a Bible once owned by a World War I veteran as he recited the oath to become Missouri’s 56th governor. His wife, Sheena, held the Bible as his two young children were held by their grandparents.
“The people have spoken, and new direction has been decided,” Greitens said to applause in his inaugural remarks. “For decades, Missourians have talked about change. Now it’s time to fight for that change.”
Greitens replaces Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who served eight years as governor and was barred by term limits from seeking re-election. Four other newly elected Republican statewide officials — Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, Treasurer Eric Schmitt, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Attorney General Josh Hawley — also took the oath of office.
Huge U.S. and Missouri flags were draped in front of the Capitol columns and a production company erected a stage with large television screens on either side for those whose may otherwise not have a good view of the ceremony. A B2 bomber flew overhead as Greitens spoke his oath, which was immediately followed by a 19-gun artillery salute.
Greitens didn’t outline specific policy proposals in his remarks, choosing to save those for a later day. But he pledged action. An adviser said he would immediately issue executive orders banning executive branch officials from accepting lobbyist gifts.
“This is the people’s house. And to those who would trouble this house for their own selfish and sinful gain, here me now: I answer to the people, and I come as an outsider to do the people’s work,” Greitens said. “And I know that the people do not expect miracles, but they do expect results — and we will deliver.”
Greitens began the day by attending an interfaith prayer service at St. Peter Catholic Church near the Capitol. He and his wife, Sheena, sat in the front row after hugging Nixon and his wife, Georganne. The service featured prayers from a variety of pastors from across Missouri.
In a break with tradition, Greitens skipped a parade to instead host a pre-inaugural ceremony honoring about 150 “heroes” from all walks of life, including law enforcement officers, teachers, farmers and veterans. Each one was receiving a special coin and had the opportunity to pose for a picture with new governor. Greitens said the event was intended to take the focus off “celebrities” and place it on “the best representatives of the Missouri people.”
The inaugural celebrations are to end with an evening ball inside the Capitol featuring a performance from a surprise musician.
Greitens is hardly the first governor to start a term promising change. Such claims are actually practically a given.
The theme of Nixon’s first inauguration in 2008 was “A New Day for Missouri.” Four years before that, former Republican Gov. Matt Blunt promised “to lead Missouri in a new direction,” and four years earlier Democratic Gov. Bob Holden proclaimed “the beginning of a new vision: one bright future, one Missouri.”
Greitens defeated Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster in the November election as part of Republican sweep in which Missouri voters also picked President-elect Donald Trump and re-elected U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. The only remaining statewide Democratic officeholder is Auditor Nicole Galloway, who was not on the 2016 ballot and had been appointed to the post in 2014 following the death of Republican Auditor Tom Schweich.
Republican legislators are expected to team with Greitens to enact a variety of GOP priorities that had been vetoed by Nixon, including a right-to-work bill barring mandatory union fees. Greitens also is expected to support efforts to cut down on government regulations, limit liability lawsuits in order to help businesses, ban lobbyist gifts to elected officials, enact stricter penalties for people who assault police and expand options for K-12 students’ education.
Just last week Greitens stopped in Kansas City and worked out with local officers at the Kansas City Police Academy.
When it comes to reducing crime in Kansas City, Greitens said he’s got a plan. Read more on that here.