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Jay Nixon

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Jay Nixon
Jay Nixon.jpg
Governor of Missouri
In office
January 12, 2009 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 6
PredecessorMatt Blunt (R)
Base salary$133,821
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 4, 2008
Next generalNovember 8, 2016
Term limits2 terms
Prior offices
Missouri Attorney General
Missouri State Senator
Bachelor'sUniversity of Missouri-Columbia (1978)
J.D.University of Missouri-Columbia (1981)
Date of birthFebruary 13, 1956
Place of birthDeSoto, Missouri
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Jeremiah W. "Jay" Nixon (b. February 13, 1956 in DeSoto, Missouri) is a Democratic politician from Missouri and the current Governor of Missouri.

Nixon was first elected governor on November 4, 2008. He was recently re-elected to a second term in 2012. He defeated two challengers in the Aug. 7 Democratic primary and overtook Republican Dave Spence and Libertarian Jim Higgins in the general election on November 6, 2012.

Before becoming governor, Nixon served as Attorney General of Missouri. He was elected to four consecutive terms in the office beginning in 1992.[1][2] Prior to that, he was a member of the Missouri State Senate.

Nixon's long tenure as attorney general is marked by his victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in Nixon v. Shrink, which reinstated Missouri’s campaign contribution limits and cleared the way nationally for campaign finance reform. In two other cases of significance, Nixon’s work in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Health Midwest cases resulted in the formation of the state’s two largest health care foundations, and his litigation against tobacco companies for illegally marketing cigarettes to young people resulted in the largest settlement in the history of the state.


Nixon is a native of De Soto, Missouri. He earned his bachelor's degree in political science and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1978 and 1981, respectively. After earning his J.D., he became an attorney in private practice.[1]


  • BA, Political science, University of Missouri-Columbia (1978)
  • JD, University of Missouri-Columbia (1981)

Political career

Governor of Missouri (2008 - Present)

Nixon was elected governor on November 4, 2008 and entered office in early 2009.

In 2010, Nixon had a 44 percent to 30 percent approval rating among Missouri voters, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling. Among Democrats, Nixon showed a weak 54 to 26 percent approval rating. But among Republicans he nearly broke even with 34 to 37 percent. PPP said that among voters Nixon would pull in 14 or 15 percent of Republicans. [3]

Judicial appointments

As governor, Nixon is responsible for appointing judges to Missouri state courts. In Missouri, the governor make a judicial appointment after candidates are recommended by a judicial nominating commission. After the governor appoints a judge, she or he must run for retention in the next general election more than one year after taking office. For an up-to-date list of all of Nixon's appointees, see Judgepedia's page on his appointments.


Challenge from the State Auditor

On August 26, 2011, Governor Nixon was sued by Missouri's state auditor, who alleged the governor violated the state constitution by cutting spending on education and other services to help cover the costs of the Joplin tornado and spring flooding. The Governor reportedly announced $170 million in budget cuts for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2011.[4]

Auditor Schweich and his attorneys argued that the cuts were intended to be permanent and that the governor can reduce expenditures only when revenues fall below projections. The Governor's attorneys claimed that the cuts are temporary and authorized under a constitutional section that gives the governor the power to control the rate of expenditures. The section of the Missouri Constitution under question states, "The governor may control the rate at which any appropriation is expended during the period of the appropriation by allotment or other means, and may reduce the expenditures of the state or any of its agencies below their appropriations whenever the actual revenues are less than the revenue estimates upon which the appropriations were based."[5]

Special session

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed a tax incentives bill on July 15, 2010 designed to support the state's automotive industry and manufacturing jobs. The bill passed after a four-week special legislative session he called to start on June 24, 2010. The incentives allow automakers to retain withholding taxes only after a company makes a firm commitment to make capital investments in production capacity and keep workers on the job in Missouri. To offset the cost of the incentives, the governor asked legislators to reform the state employee pension system. Legislators complied and passed the bill; Nixon signed it into law on July 19. Members of the new retirement system are required to contribute 4 percent of their pay to the pension system. [6][7]

Tax credits

On July 21, 2010, Nixon unveiled a tax review commission, composed of 25 business, community and legislative leaders. He outlined three priorities for the commissioners - determine which of the 61 tax credit programs have a return on investment, which do not, and then make recommendations. And he wanted to ensure that the tax credits create jobs, boost development, and build strong communities. Nixon stressed several times that he did not want to eliminate tax credits, noting that it would create uncertainty in the market and would impact the bond ratings of Missouri. [8] Critics argued that is governor was serious about stimulating productive economic growth in Missouri, he would eliminate the tax incentive programs entirely. [9]

The commission traveled around Missouri to hear from residents, with its first stop in St. Joseph. All of the testimony at the first hearing was in favor of tax credits. Nine residents testified in favor of different tax credits. But due to the low numbers, the commission went into recess for a majority of the time between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. [10]

Economic development

In September of 2010, Nixon outlined his plan to move the state's economy forward at the Governor's Economic Development Conference in Kansas City. The governor said that he had worked hard to keep the state's fiscal house in order since he entered office in 2009 and noted how he had managed to cut $1.5 billion from the state budget over the two previous years. Nixon said the state managed to keep its AAA bond ratings by all three rating agencies, which made Missouri one of only seven states across the country with AAA ratings by all three bond rating agencies at the time. The governor also talked about a steering committee he initiated and charged with the task of producing a strategic plan for the state's economic future.[11]

Fiscal policy

In 2010, Nixon received a grade of "B" on his taxing and spending record by the Cato Institute, a free-market think tank. Scores ranging from 0 to 100 were calculated for each governor based on seven tax and spending variables. Those scores were then converted to the letter grades "A" to "F." Nixon received a score of 59 and a grade of "B." [12]

Nixon proposed a budget for fiscal 2012 that would reduce total spending by 2.5 percent. Total spending recommended by the governor in his State of the State Address is $23.3 billion compared to estimated total spending of $23.8 billion for the fiscal year 2011, ending June 30. [13]

State plane

It cost taxpayers nearly $400,000 to fly Nixon around the state during his first two years in office, with different state agencies picking up the tab. The last flight paid by the governor's office was on Jan. 31, 2009, his first month in office. Lawmakers are working on legislation to prohibit the governor from using funds from other departments for travel expenses. [14]

Teacher sexual abuse

In August 2011, Nixon signed SB54 into law, a bill designed to protect students from sexual abuse from their teachers. Among the more controversial parts of the bill was section 162.069 which states, "Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student." This makes it a crime for teachers to have a current or former student under the age of 18 as a friend on a social networking site such as Facebook. Many teachers took issue with this facet of the measure[15]

Attorney General of Missouri (1992 - 2008)

Nixon was first elected as Missouri's Attorney General on November 3, 1992, on a platform of fighting crime, cleaning up government corruption, and protecting consumers and the environment. Nixon followed William L. Webster as Attorney General, whose term had been plagued by scandal. The 1992 race for Attorney General between Nixon and former State House Minority Leader David Steelman was remarkably nasty and memorable for biting personal attacks on both sides. Nixon beat Steelman 51% to 45%, with an unusually high 4% of the votes going to the Libertarian candidate. Nixon was re-elected as Attorney General in 1996, 2000, and 2004.

One of the most popular programs Nixon implemented was the state’s No Call program, which reduces unwanted telemarketing calls. Nixon recovered more than $1.2 million from telemarketers who violated the No Call law. He also created an Agriculture and Environment Division, which has worked to protect the interests of the state regarding the flow of the Missouri River. Attorneys take legal action to stop pollution of the state’s air, water and soil and to look after Missouri’s agricultural interests.

Nixon’s victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in Nixon v. Shrink reinstated Missouri’s campaign contribution limits and cleared the way nationally for campaign finance reform. In two other cases of significance, Nixon’s work in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Health Midwest cases resulted in the formation of the state’s two largest health care foundations, which used more than $1.5 billion to help provide health care services to underserved populations of the state. Litigation by Nixon against tobacco companies for illegally marketing cigarettes to young people resulted in the largest settlement in the history of the state.


As Attorney General, Nixon was heavily involved in controversial decisions regarding school desegregation, capital punishment, and abortion. Nixon has overseen the state's involvement in the court settlements that ended mandatory busing to achieve desegregation in St. Louis and Kansas City's public schools. His role in the desegregation cases caused friction with some African American leaders. Nixon is also a supporter of capital punishment, which also caused some political difficulties with opponents of the death penalty. In addition, Missouri Republicans criticized Nixon for soliciting campaign contributions from utility company Ameren during a criminal investigation by his office of the company.[16]

Missouri State Senate (1986 - 1992)

Nixon was elected to the Missouri Senate in 1986. Two years later, he made his first bid for statewide office, an unsuccessful effort to oust incumbent U.S. Senator John Danforth. Nixon was soundly defeated by the popular Danforth, winning only 32% of the vote compared to Danforth's 68%.



See also: Missouri gubernatorial election, 2012

Nixon won the Aug. 7 Democratic primary election and faced Republican Dave Spence and Libertarian Jim Higgins in the general election, which he won.[17][18]

  • General
Governor of Missouri General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJay Nixon Incumbent 54.8% 1,494,056
     Republican Dave Spence 42.5% 1,160,265
     Libertarian Jim Higgins 2.7% 73,509
Total Votes 2,727,830
Election Results via Missouri Secretary of State.

  • Primary
Missouri Governor Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngJay Nixon Incumbent 86% 270,140
William B. Campbell 8.2% 25,775
Clay Thunderhawk 5.8% 18,243
Total Votes 314,158
Election Results via Missouri Secretary of State.

Early in 2011, it looked to be tough for Nixon to win his campaign. In March, he received a 61 percent approval rating in a poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican consulting firm. The governor's "strong" approval rating, however, was 13 percent, the same as where Nixon tested in February 2009, according to Neil Newhouse, partner and co-founder of the polling firm. The score was "extremely low," Newhouse said. "Generally, an incumbent governor's 'strong' job approval score should be about half of his overall approval score, meaning that Nixon's should be around 30 percent."[19]

Nixon continued to lead by 45 percent to 38 percent over Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R), who was expected to run against Nixon for the state's top political spot in 2012. While Nixon's fate appeared up in the air, his candidacy received a boost in November when Kinder, following a controversy where he was photographed with an ex-stripper in a bar, announced he would not be running.[20] He defeated both challengers, Clay Thunderhawk and William Campbell, in the Democratic primary on August 7, 2012. He then won in the general election on November 6, 2012.[21][22]


Defamation suit over banker ads

Tensions over negative advertising campaigns on both sides culminated on October 12th when Spence filed a defamation lawsuit against Nixon in Cole County Circuit Court for an advertisement claiming Spence used his position as a bank board member to arrange an "insider loan" of federal bailout money to buy himself a vacation home. Spence firmly denies any link between the loan and the $40 million in bailout money the bank received in 2009, before he joined the board. He says he was not present when the other board officials made their decision to approve the loan.[23]

Partly in reaction to the banker ads, Spence told the press days before filing suit that Nixon had "sold his soul to the devil" trying to win re-election.[23]

Nixon's campaign manager refused requests to take down the ad, where it was airing in markets across Missouri. "You see a lot of crazy stunts during the course of a campaign, but this frivolous lawsuit is misguided and desperate," he said.[23]


Nixon's 2012 re-election campaign was endorsed by:

  • The Missouri Corn Growers Association[24]
  • The Kansas City Star[25].
  • The Democratic Governors Assocation[26]
  • Missouri Association of School Administrators[27]
  • Mayor of Neosho Richard Davidson (R)[28]

Campaign advertisements



"Helping Himself"



On November 4, 2008, Nixon easily won election as Governor.[29]

Governor of Missouri, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJay Nixon 58.4% 1,680,611
     Republican Kenny Hulshof 39.5% 1,136,364
     Libertarian Andrew W. Finkenstadt 1.1% 31,850
     Constitution Gregory Thompson 1% 28,941
     Write-in Mark Serati 0% 8
     Write-in Theodis Brown, Sr. 0% 4
Total Votes 2,877,778


In the race for state Attorney General in 2004, Nixon grabbed 60% of the vote and his Republican opponent, Chris Byrd, received 37%.


In the 1998 race for U.S. Senator, Nixon got 44% of the vote and his Republican opponent, Kit Bond, received 53%.


In the 1988 race for U.S. Senate, Nixon's 32% of the vote was defeated by Republican John Danforth's 68%.

Campaign donors


Nixon won re-election to the position of Governor of Missouri in 2012. During that election cycle, Nixon raised a total of $13,922,559.


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Jay Nixon's donors each year.[30] Click [show] for more information.


Nixon is married to Georganne Wheeler Nixon; they have two children, Jeremiah, Jr., and Will. They attend the First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City.[31]

Recent news

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jay Nixon, "Meet Jay," accessed December 31, 2011
  2. Missouri Secretary of State, "November 6, 2012 General Election Results," Accessed November 7, 2012
  3. "Nixon outpolls McCaskill in favorability, survey says," Missouri Watchdog, December 8, 2010
  4. The Associated Press "UPDATE: Missouri auditor sues Gov. Nixon over disaster-related budget cuts" August 26, 2011
  5. The Associated Press "Judge weighing Nixon's budget cuts" October 31, 2011
  6. "Missouri Watchdog," "Missouri governor signs tax incentives bill for automakers," July 15, 2010
  7. "New state workers to start paying into pension system next year," Missouri Watchdog, July 19, 2010
  8. "Reforming, not eliminating, tax credit programs in Missouri," Missouri Watchdog, September,9 2010
  9. "Mixed reaction to governor's tax credit review commission," Missouri Watchdog, July 23, 2010
  10. "Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission hits the highway," Missouri Watchdog, September,14 2010
  11. "Governor outlines plan to grow economy in Missouri," Missouri Watchdog, September, 16 2010
  12. "Missouri governor receives 'B' grade in fiscal policy," Missouri Watchdog, September, 30 2010
  13. "Budget proposal outlines reduction in state spending" Missouri Watchdog, January, 20 2011
  14. "Bill boosting nuclear plant begins legislative path," Missouri Watchdog, February 18, 2010
  15., "MO Outlaws Teacher Student Friends", August 3, 2011
  17. Missouri Secretary of State, "November 6, 2012 General Election Results," Accessed November 7, 2012
  18. Missouri Secretary of State, "Election Night Reporting: Unofficial primary results," accessed August 8, 2012
  19. "Nixon may face tough re-election, pollster says," Missouri Watchdog, March 9, 2011
  20. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Peter Kinder drops out of governor's race," November 19, 2011
  21. Missouri Secretary of State, "Certified candidate list," accessed June 29, 2012
  22. AP Election Results-Campaign 2012, "Missouri-Summary Vote Results," August 7, 2012
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 The Columbia Tribune, "Spence files defamation suit," October 13, 2012
  24. The, "Mo. corn growers endorse Democratic Gov. Nixon's re-election campaign," July 25, 2012
  25. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named kcstar
  26. St Louis Post-Dispatch, "Missouri Republican Spence gets $950k from GOP governors group," October 9, 2012
  27. Missouri Association of School Administrators, "MASA Endorses Gov. Jay Nixon for Re-Election: Governor’s Experienced Leadership Strengthens Schools & Communities," October 6, 2012
  28. Four States Home Page, "Neosho Mayor Supports Nixon's Reelection," October 9, 2012
  29. Missouri Secretary of State, "November 4, 2008 general election results," December 10, 2011
  30. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
  31. Project Vote Smart, "Biography Governor Jeremiah 'Jay' W. Nixon's Biography," accessed September 28, 2012
Political offices
Preceded by
Missouri State Senate
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Attorney General of Missouri
Succeeded by
Chris Koster (D)
Preceded by
Matt Blunt (R)
Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by