JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — St. Louis businessman Dave Spence said Tuesday that he will run for Missouri governor, setting up a likely Republican primary for the right to challenge Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in next year’s elections.
Spence, who declared his candidacy in an interview with The Associated Press, becomes the first prominent Republican to officially enter the governor’s race. But Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder also is expected to announce his gubernatorial candidacy soon. They would meet in an August primary.
“I am 100 percent committed to running for governor in 2012,” Spence said Tuesday.
Spence, 53, is the president and CEO of Alpha Packaging, which makes plastic bottles for pharmaceuticals, vitamins and personal care products, among other things. He also is chairman of Legacy Packaging, a pharmaceutical packaging firm.
A first time candidate for public office, Spence will be starting with scant statewide name recognition, but he has said he is willing to put some of his own money into his campaign.
Spence told the AP last week that he had taken some preliminary steps for a 2012 gubernatorial campaign and was considering running even if it meant a primary against Kinder. He said he was waiting for Kinder to announce his intentions before making a final decision. Spence said Tuesday that he decided he could no longer wait and needed to start organizing his own campaign committee. He promised a campaign focused on the economy.
“Job creation is number one that is something that I understand, I’ve done it for a living,” Spence said Tuesday. “As I talked to more and more employers and business owners around the state, I just felt there was a need for someone to come in and make sense of all it.”
Spence said he wants to reduce government interference in businesses and make Missouri a “right-to-work” state where union fees cannot be a condition of employment.
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