KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is rounding out his first term, and a group of four republicans and one libertarian are on his heels ahead of the August 7 primary.
They've been taking notes during Nixon’s reign and aren’t holding back on what they think went wrong.
“I call him Barack Obama's Missouri accomplice,” said Bill Randles of Kansas City.
“I think he is trying to get through his first term and do nothing,” said Dave Spence of St. Louis.
Bill Randles, Dave Spence, John Weiler and Fred Sauer make up Nixon’s republican opponents. Two democrats are also listed on the Secretary of State’s website: Clay Thunderhawk and William Campbell. KSHB was unable to reach either democratic opponent.
Libertarian Jim Higgins is running unopposed in the primary.
Randles is a Harvard Law School graduate who, in recent years, stopped being an attorney to start a small business.
“I grew up in a trailer park. I’ve been a pastor. I’ve worked in agriculture,” he said.
He believes his well-rounded background makes him relatable to all Missourians.
Randles’ campaign is based on the idea that freedom has been taken away from Americans.
“Government is growing at such a rate that, at a federal level, we've never seen before,” he explained. “I will not implement ObamaCare. We will not join the Medicaid expansion. We're sinking under the weight of old Medicaid. That's 35 percent of the state budget. We sure can't absorb an expansion.”
The 49-year-old recently picked up endorsements from the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Missouri Republican Assembly.
According to Randles, he has traveled more than 76,000 miles and attended 450 events for his campaign. His wife acts as campaign manager.
Dave Spence went to college at the University of Missouri. Quickly thereafter, he joined the family business. In 1985, he bought a 15-employee business. Recently, that business has grown to more than 800 employees.
The millionaire says his experience as the head of a company will lend well to leading a state.
“There's not been a business person who has run this state since 1937. And, yet, we're dealing with multi-billions, successes and failures, dealing in a win-loss record,” he said.
“Our state is 50th in jobs, 49th in education funding. One in six Missourians are on food stamps,” Spence added. “Jobs are, by far, the number one issue. People are worried about tomorrow. They're worried about replicating the life they had with their kids and grandkids and, in my opinion, now is a time that you have to say 'hey, is this our legacy?'”
Spence said he bankrolled much of his campaign because he believes in his ability and the need for change in Missouri.
His campaign has held 600 events.
Fred Sauer prides himself in the bulldog work he’s done to oppose special interest groups in Missouri. He is a Navy veteran and currently acts as the leader for the Pro-Life Committee at his church.
“There's no one in the state of Missouri who has spent as much time, energy and dedication to try and stop the things that are being precipitated by unlimited campaign contributions,” he explained.
One focus of the Sauer campaign is to reinstate limitations on campaign contributions.
He opposes the Missouri Science Innovation and Reinvestment Act. He believes there are many problems with the current healthcare system in America. But he doesn’t see the Affordable Heathcare Act as a threat in Missouri because he doesn’t believe the federal government will scrape up enough money to fund it.
Sauer considers Missouri’s drug problem, specifically methamphetamine, a social collapse.
He wants to “return government to the people of Missouri.”
One portion of that equation is turning around the public education system.
“Where ever there is competition for education, all education gets better. After Katrina passed through New Orleans, they revolutionized the place with charter schools. It's wonderful,” Sauer explained.
Spence agrees that Missouri’s education system could use some competition.
“We've been trying to kick the can down the road on competition for a long time. There are 521 school districts in our state, we have a tendency to focus on the ones that aren't doing very well,” said Spence. “I think the only way we're going to solve it is by leadership and competition.”
Randles believes education in Missouri needs to take top priority, too.
“I think the current education monopoly is failing. I want to say no to federal education money so they don't have any say over our schools, and I want to put vouchers in the hands of parents, let parents decide how their children are educated, not bureaucrats,” Randles said.
John Weiler communicated to KSHB through Facebook, but we were unable to reach him Monday for comment. The Pevely, Mo., said he is running a one-man campaign.