JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Democratic Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway has taken a first, official step toward running for governor next year, setting up a potential challenge to Republican Gov. Mike Parson.
Galloway updated her campaign committee paperwork with the Missouri Ethics Commission to show that she is seeking the governor’s office instead of auditor. The amendment was dated Saturday but received Thursday by the commission and posted Friday on its website.
The move was expected, as Galloway has been building support for a gubernatorial bid for the past several months.
Galloway could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Parson already has announced a campaign manager for his 2020 race, though neither Parson nor Galloway has yet held a traditional campaign kickoff event.
Galloway, of Columbia, was serving as the Boone County treasurer in April 2015 when then-Gov. Jay Nixon appointed her to succeed Republican Gov. Tom Schweich after the incumbent killed himself. She defeated Republican Saundra McDowell last year to win a full four-year term as auditor. She can remain in office while running for governor.
Galloway is the only Democratic statewide elected official in Missouri.
Parson, of Bolivar, was elected as lieutenant governor in 2016 and became governor in June 2018 following the resignation of Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, who was facing potential impeachment proceedings over allegations of sexual and political misconduct.
Parson would begin the race with a considerable cash advantage.
Galloway’s campaign committee had about $133,000 in its account as of the end of June, according to the most recent state finance reports. Parson’s campaign committee had more than $1.1 million at that same point.
Both candidates also could benefit from separate political action committees, which don’t have to abide by contribution limits set for candidate committees. A pro-Galloway committee called Keep Government Accountable had about $21,000 at the end of June but has received at least $138,000 through 10 large contributions since then.
A pro-Parson committee called Uniting Missouri PAC had nearly $2.9 million at the end of June and has received $45,000 in large contributions since then.
With a potential political matchup looming, Galloway recently has become more vocal in criticizing Parson.
In May, Galloway asked the attorney general’s office for a formal opinion on whether a practice used by Parson’s office violates the state Sunshine Law when responding to open-records requests. At issue is whether it’s OK for the governor’s office to cite the First Amendment freedom of speech and petition as justification for redacting phone numbers, addresses and emails of private citizens who contacted the governor’s office.
In July, Galloway released an audit of Parson’s tenure in the lieutenant governor’s office that criticized him for being reimbursed to travel to a Kansas City Chiefs game and to shows in the tourist destination of Branson. An attorney for the governor’s office responded in the audit that Parson attended the events as part of his work to promote Missouri tourism.
Galloway also has been critical of Parson’s administration for delays in issuing state income tax refunds to some individuals.