ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - Missouri voters ushered in something unprecedented in modern political history Tuesday when they elected Eric Greitens as the state’s next governor.
The end of a bitter general election fight against Attorney General Chris Koster caps a stunning rise to power for Greitens, a Democrat-turned-Republican who had never sought or held an elected office.
Koster made a concession speech just after 10:35 p.m.
In one of the most expensive races around the country, Greitens, a former Navy SEAL turned philanthropist, defeated Koster, who until 2008 had run as a Republican before winning two terms as Attorney General as a Democrat.
Greitens defeated a large and more experienced primary field to win the GOP nomination in August, thanks in part to large amounts of campaign cash. That fundraising ability was criticized during both campaigns because of some controversial sources, including a political action committee that had donors still not publicly disclosed.
The two major party candidates could not agree to a general election debate when Greitens refused to release his tax returns. He appears to have successfully pushed back against a late attempt by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to assist down-ballot candidates like Koster.
The Greitens campaign turned that support into a political weapon in the last weeks of the race as Clinton was forced back on defense with late news that the FBI was taking a fresh look at its probe into her email use as Secretary of State.
A Greitens campaign that already had used a corruption label to target Koster had fresh ammunition to use in its closing argument despite the even later news that the FBI found nothing new in its review. Greitens also ran on a platform of support for Right to Work legislation, although he failed to earn the endorsement of traditionally GOP-leaning groups like the Missouri Farm Bureau and the National Rifle Association.
Both candidates are with supporters at events in the St. Louis area. Check back to this story for continuing coverage.