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Politically Speaking: Sen. Parson on his quest to become Missouri's next lieutenant governor

Mike Parson May 2016
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Mike Parson

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome state Sen. Mike Parson to the program for the first time.

The Bolivar Republican is one of two major candidates from that party running for lieutenant governor. The other is Kansas City native Bev Randles, who was a guest on the podcast a few weeks ago. The two Democratic aspirants for the office — former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan and state Rep. Tommie Pierson — have also appeared on the show.

Before he was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2010, Parson served in the Missouri House and as Polk County's sheriff. Before jumping head first into Missouri politics, Parson spent a number of years in the U.S. Army and owned several gas stations. Parson's large Senate district includes parts of southwest and south central Missouri, including Sedalia, home of the Missouri State Fair.

It could be argued that Parson's foray into statewide politics began after the death in 2015 of state Auditor Tom Schweich. He made an impassioned and emotional speech on the Senate floor decrying what he saw as immense negativity in Missouri politics. Parson initially entered the race for Missouri governor, but switched to lieutenant governor about a year ago.

Parson has secured the endorsements of several key GOP officials, including former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard. 

Here's what Parson had to say during the show:

  • He's dismayed by how political campaigns keep "pushing the envelope" and negatively talk about "people's character, their honor and their families." "Elections should be about your accomplishments," he said. "What have you done to qualify for the position and why are you qualified to run?"
  • Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's decision to run for governor was a big factor in Parson switching races. Parson noted that Kinder would likely do well in the 8th Congressional District, an area he needed to secure to run effectively for governor.
  • Parson said he doesn't support embryonic stem cell research. He did vote against an amendment that effectively repealed what was known as Amendment 2, which prevented the General Assembly from curtailing any type of stem cell research. Among other things, Parson said he had misgivings about moving to overturn something that had just been passed by the voters. 
  • Parson believes that the divides between rural and urban Missouri can bridged. To do that, he said urban and suburban voters need to know more about how agriculture works. "If you really look at what we did in agriculture, we're probably better stewards of the land than we ever had been through technology," he said. "Because it's a way you make a living."

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Mike Parson on Twitter: @MikeParsonForMO

Music: "Randy Savage" by Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.