JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eric Greitens has been many things in his 42 years, including a Navy SEAL officer, Rhodes scholar, White House fellow, charity founder, best-selling author and inspirational speaker.
On Monday, he’ll begin his new life as a public servant when he is sworn in as Missouri’s 56th governor during a ceremony in front of the Capitol building.
Greitens, a Republican who has portrayed himself as a political outsider, has been promising to spur economic growth and shake up the state capital.
“We’re going to do what we promised you we’re going to do, and we’re going to put an end to politics as usual,” Greitens told a crowd of cheering supporters during a stop last week at Truman State University in Kirksville.
Greitens will replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who served eight years as governor and was barred by term limits from seeking re-election. Four other newly elected Republican statewide officials — Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, Treasurer Eric Schmitt, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Attorney General Josh Hawley — also will be inaugurated.
Greitens, Missouri’s first Jewish governor, will start Monday with an interfaith prayer service at a Catholic church beside the Capitol grounds.
Instead of the traditional parade, he plans to honor teachers, veterans, farmers and others during a Capitol ceremony as part of an effort to shift focus “away from the politicians to the people.”
“We’re going to be able to change the direction of this state,” Greitens said last week. “We’re going to take Missouri in a new direction.”
Greitens is hardly the first governor to start a term promising change. Such claims are actually practically a given.
The theme of Nixon’s first inauguration in 2008 was “A New Day for Missouri.” Four years before that, former Republican Gov. Matt Blunt promised “to lead Missouri in a new direction,” and four years earlier Democratic Gov. Bob Holden proclaimed “the beginning of a new vision: one bright future, one Missouri.”
The inaugural celebrations for Greitens will end with a ball and performance from a surprise musician.
When he takes office, Republicans for the first time in history will hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature and control of the governor’s mansion. That likely will mean top GOP priorities vetoed by Nixon will become law, including a right-to-work bill barring mandatory union fees that Greitens said he supports.
Other policy priorities Greitens has cited on the campaign trail or in the weeks leading up to his inauguration include cutting down on government regulations, limiting liability lawsuits in an effort to help businesses, banning lobbyist gifts to elected officials, strict penalties for people who assault police and expanding options for K-12 students’ education.