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Politically Speaking: Nixon goes into detail about his 8 years as Missouri's governor

Gov. Jay Nixon October 2016
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On a special edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are honored to welcome Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to the program.

The two-term Democrat spent more than an hour discussing his legacy as the state's chief executive — and provided in-depth insight into how he faced crisis while in office.

Nixon has been one of Missouri’s top vote-getters during his 24 years holding statewide office. He set a record with his four terms as Missouri attorney general before he was elected governor in 2008.

As governor, he’s faced a number of challenges. The national economic downturn hit Missouri just when Nixon took office, forcing him to cut $1.5 billion from the state budgets in 2009 and 2010.

He also grappled with the aftermath of the deadly tornado that hit Joplin in 2011 and the nationally watched protests that consumed Ferguson following the August 2014 police shooting that killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Nixon got high marks for his response to Joplin, but came under intense criticism over Ferguson.

Politically, during his tenure, Republicans made greater gains in the Missouri General Assembly and now hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

Among his observations on the podcast:

  • Nixon, a Democrat generally has opted against helping his party’s candidates this year. “I pledged to Missourians that I would work as hard the last 100 days as I did the first 100 days,” he said. “I think Missourians share of value of finishing things, and so I’m really committed to that.”
  • While acknowledging the controversy over his response to the Ferguson unrest, Nixon notes that no other people lost their lives during the protests.
  • One of his biggest regrets is that the General Assembly blocked his efforts to expand Medicaid, as recommended by the Affordable Care Act, despite the hefty federal aid available. “The fact that this legislature has decided that Missourians should pay taxes, we should send them to Washington, D.C., and then let Washington, D.C., spend those monies in other states – I think is bad policy.”
  • Nixon is looking forward to his new life with his wife in suburban St. Louis. The couple has purchased a home in University City, near Washington University.  A lawyer, Nixon may resume his legal practice.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Jay Nixon on Twitter: @GovJayNixon

Music: "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen

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.