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Nixon launches new ad, Spence snags $1.1 million

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 20, 2012 - Just days after getting jabbed in an attack ad, Gov. Jay Nixonhas hit back with one of his own against Republican rival Dave Spence.

It’s no surprise that Nixon's ad -- running statewide as of Thursday -- is zeroing on Spence’s former role as a board member of Reliance Bancshares, a bank that accepted $40 million in federal bailout money in the months after the 2008 financial meltdown. So far, the bank hasn’t paid it back.

Nixon and his Democratic allies have been hammering on that issue ever since Spence declared his candidacy a year ago.

Spence, a St. Louis businessman, has emphasized that he wasn’t on the board when the bank accepted the money – but he’s noted that bank regulators had advised the bank to take it.

And initially, Spence didn’t recall being on the board when it voted to delay repayment. He was among those who agreed to the delay. (He left the board soon after.)

In any case, Nixon appears to be in payback mode after Spence launched his latest attack ad, which seeks to tie the governor to President Barack Obama. The ad also notes that the state accepted over $4 billion in federal stimulus aid (which was allocated by the Republicans controlling the General Assembly.)

“Missourians are fiscally responsible people who value their tax dollars, so if Dave Spence wants to be governor, he should explain why his bank took a $40 million bailout from Washington and why he refused to repay the taxpayers,” said Nixon campaign manager Oren Shur.

Meanwhile, Spence – who has largely self-funded his campaign – got some help this week via a $1.1 million donationfrom the Republican Governors Association. The group’s chief, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, was in town a few weeks ago for a private fundraiser in Clayton on Spence’s behalf.

(Update) Friday morning, Spence's campaign offered its rebuttal to Nixon's ad. Said Spence campaign spokesman Jared Craighead: "Jay Nixon isn't being honest with Missourians about his own record so it's no surprise he's lying about Dave.

"Dave Spence is successful small businessman and proud Missouri job creator," Criaghead continued. "It's sad that Jay Nixon's failed record has forced him to engage in negative personal attacks. Unfortunately those attacks won't create more Missouri jobs and they certainly don't change the fact that Missouri's economy under Jay Nixon is the worst in the region." (End update)

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.