State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Democratic nominee for Missouri governor, made another campaign stop Monday in Joplin addressing health care needs and plans to combat COVID-19 as the state continues to see record numbers of coronavirus cases.
Galloway is the only Democrat holding statewide office in the Republican-leaning state. With the general election two weeks away, Galloway visited Springfield and Joplin on the campaign trail as she discussed her plans as governor to expand access to health care, tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and aid in the state’s economic recovery. In Joplin, there have been 33 COVID-19 related deaths.
“The most important thing the next governor will have to do is contain the spread of this virus and rebuild Missouri’s economy,” Galloway said while in Joplin. “The question is, will we rebuild in a way that helps working people get back on their feet or will we continue to ignore science and rebuild only for well-connected, special interests? I’m running for governor to put Jefferson City back on the side of working families.”
Galloway was the Boone County treasurer in 2015 when state Auditor Tom Schweich died. Then-Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Galloway to fill the remainder of Schweich’s term. She defeated Republican challenger Sandra McDowell by about 6 percentage points in the 2018 election.
The incumbent, Gov. Mike Parson, is a former state legislator who was elected lieutenant governor in 2016. He ascended to the state’s top job after fellow Republican Eric Greitens resigned in scandal in June 2018.
At the gubernatorial debate on Oct. 9, Parson lauded his “balanced approach” to the pandemic. He said his approach has brought the death rate down significantly — from 8% of people infected in April to currently 0.7%. Meanwhile, he said the state’s then 7% unemployment rate (recently falling to 4.9%) is far below what experts had predicted, and more than 8 in 10 Missouri schoolchildren are back in the classroom.
“You’ve got to be able to deal with the virus,” Parson said at the debate. “You’ve got to be able to deal with the economy. You’ve got to be able to get kids back in school safely.”
Galloway said that for nearly two decades Parson has been in Jefferson City, where he’s had plenty of opportunities to make things right for Missourians but has not.
“He’s had his chance,” she said. “If he had a plan to lower the cost of health care, we would’ve seen it. If he had a plan to make sure that working people had access to health care, we would’ve seen it. If he had a plan to contain COVID-19 so we could get our lives back and our economy going again, we would’ve seen it. He has failed the test of leadership, and it’s time for a change.”
If elected governor, Galloway said, she would focus on expanding access to health care and lowering health care costs as a top priority.
“I have seen that the money is not going to where it should go, back to make sure health care is affordable and back into our schools, but the corruption in Jefferson City is even worse than that,” she said. "The insiders win, and the rest of us just lose. It is time for a new way. We don’t have to settle for this. We don’t have to say that this is the absolute best that it can be. Government should not limit your ability to be successful.”
In a statement sent late Monday night, Steele Shippy, campaign manager for the Parson campaign, said:
“In response to the pandemic, Gov. Parson has been implementing his extensive Show-Me Strong Recovery Plan, which is a balanced approach to protecting the health of Missourians while ensuring our economy can recover.
“Gov. Parson has been leading with solutions to help make health care more affordable and available, which is why he has fought for critical investments in health care infrastructure including rural broadband, telehealth and other priorities to help ensure more Missourians have access to quality care."
The statement also said Parson’s administration has been "laser-focused" on providing waivers for health care workers, hospitals and health care providers to help them manage the fight against COVID-19.
Yinka Faleti, of St. Louis, a Democratic candidate for Missouri secretary of state, also joined Galloway on her campaign stop in Joplin where he emphasized the need for change, starting at the state level. He’s a graduate from law school at Washington University and has served as an attorney and state prosecutor.
He said he is running specifically for secretary of state "because that’s where the fight is for democracy in our state.”
Krista Stark, executive director of the Southwest Missouri Democrats, said this election could be historic for Missouri in more ways than one. If elected, Galloway would become the first female governor, as well as the first CPA elected to the governor’s office. Faleti would be the first Black statewide officeholder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.