Jay Nixon

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Jay Nixon
Jay Nixon crop.jpg
55th Governor of Missouri
Assumed office
January 12, 2009
Lieutenant Peter Kinder
Preceded by Matt Blunt
40th Attorney General of Missouri
In office
January 11, 1993 – January 12, 2009
Governor Mel Carnahan
Roger Wilson
Bob Holden
Matt Blunt
Preceded by William Webster
Succeeded by Chris Koster
Personal details
Born Jeremiah Wilson Nixon
(1956-02-13) February 13, 1956 (age 58)
De Soto, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Georganne Nixon
Children Jeremiah
Residence Governors Mansion
Alma mater University of Missouri, Columbia
Religion United Methodism
Website Official Website
Campaign Website

Jeremiah Wilson "Jay" Nixon (born February 13, 1956) is an American politician who is the 55th and current Governor of Missouri. A member of the Democratic Party, Jay Nixon was first elected Governor in 2008.

Born in De Soto, Missouri, Jay Nixon is a graduate of University of Missouri School of Law. Beginning a career in private practice, Nixon was elected to the Missouri State Senate in 1986. In 1988, after two years in the state senate, Nixon ran for the United States Senate; posing a challenge to incumbent Republican Senator John Danforth. Nixon lost in the general election with 32% of the vote, to Danforth's 68%. He served in the state senate until 1993, when he was elected Attorney General of Missouri. In the 1998 U.S. Senate election, Nixon lost to incumbent Kit Bond 53%-44%.

In 2008, after incumbent Republican Governor Matt Blunt announced he would not seek re-election, Nixon declared his candidacy for Governor of Missouri, won the Democratic primary, and faced Representative Kenny Hulshof in the general election. On November 4, 2008, Nixon defeated Hulshof and was elected Governor. Nixon was sworn in on January 12, 2009. He was reelected in 2012 and began his second term in January 2013.

Early life[edit]

Jay Nixon is a lifelong resident of De Soto, Missouri, where he was born. His mother, Betty Lea (née Willson), was a teacher and president of the local school board, and his father, Jeremiah "Jerry" Nixon, served as the city's mayor. One of his paternal thrice great-grandfathers, Abraham Jonas, was an early Jewish settler in Illinois and friend of Abraham Lincoln (one of Nixon's paternal great-grandmothers was Jewish, though Nixon is Methodist). [1] His great-great-grandfather Charles Henry Jonas was the brother of Democratic U.S. Senator Benjamin F. Jonas of Louisiana and another, James Oscar Nixon, was a brother of U.S. Representative John Thompson Nixon of New Jersey. Another paternal ancestor, John Inskeep, had served as Mayor of Philadelphia (from 1800 to 1801 and 1805 to 1806).[2] He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1978, later earning a law degree from the same institution.

He is not related to former President Richard Nixon.

Missouri State Senate (1987-1993)[edit]

In 1986, after a period of private practice in his hometown, Jay Nixon was elected to the Missouri Senate from a district in Jefferson County, serving for three terms from 1987 to 1993.[3]

1988 U.S. Senate Election[edit]

He made his first bid for statewide office in 1988, an unsuccessful effort to oust incumbent U.S. Senator John Danforth. Nixon only won 32% of the vote compared to Danforth's 68%--at the time, the most lopsided defeat a Democrat had suffered in a statewide race in Missouri history.

Missouri Attorney General (1993-2009)[edit]

He 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. The 1992 race for Attorney General between Nixon and former State House Minority Leader David Steelman was especially heated; however Nixon beat Steelman 51%-45%.

Nixon was re-elected as Attorney General by a wide margin in 1996, 2000, and 2004.

1998 U.S. Senate election[edit]

In 1998, Jay Nixon again made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, losing to incumbent Republican Kit Bond by 53%-44%.


One of the most popular programs Nixon has implemented is the state's No Call program. More than 3.5 million Missourians are a part of the No Call list, which reduces unwanted telemarketing calls. Jay Nixon also has recovered more than $1.2 million from telemarketers who violated the No Call law.

Jay Nixon's victory in the Supreme Court of the United States in Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC 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 have resulted in the formation of the state's two largest health care foundations, which will use more than $1.5 billion to help provide health care services to the state's population. 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, Jay Nixon created the Environmental Protection Division to enforce Missouri's environmental laws. Attorneys in this division take legal action to stop the pollution of the state's air, water and soil and to look after Missouri's agricultural interests. Successful litigation by the division has resulted in the cleanup of polluted sites and millions of dollars awarded to the state.

Jay Nixon's aggressive actions in the Attorney General's Office earned him national recognition. Barrister magazine[4] named him one of the 20 outstanding young lawyers in the nation, and the Missouri Jaycees selected him one of Ten Outstanding Young Missourians. Prior to becoming Attorney General, he was recognized by the Conservation Federation of Missouri[5] for his environmental work as a state senator.

Nixon received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA). Of those Scouts who have attained the rank of Eagle Scout, fewer than one in 1,000 have received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. Gov. Nixon attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 1969 at the age of 13 as part of Troop 559 in De Soto. The award was presented by the Great Rivers Council on behalf of the National Eagle Scout Association and the Boy Scouts of America during 2010 as part of the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2013, he joined with nine mayors to establish July 15 as Social Media Giving Day, encouraging citizens to support charities via social media.[6]


Jay Nixon has overseen the state's involvement in the court settlements that ended mandatory urban busing in St. Louis and Kansas City's public schools.[7] His role in the desegregation cases has caused friction with some African American leaders. In addition, Missouri Republicans have criticized Nixon for his campaign managers' soliciting campaign contributions from utility companies, including Ameren during an ongoing criminal investigation by his office of the company, which were immediately returned when the matter drew attention.

The Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) issued a report titled "The Modern Militia Movement" on February 20, 2009, informing the Missouri State Highway Patrol of several groups of people who could possibly be linked to domestic militia groups. According to the report, these groups included white Christians, supporters of third-party presidential candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and Chuck Baldwin, as well as opponents of gun control, illegal immigration, abortion, the Federal Reserve System, and the Internal Revenue Service. Following a joint letter from Paul, Barr, and Baldwin condemning the report, Nixon and the MIAC issued an apology concerning the report and stated that it will no longer be displayed on any official state websites.[8]

Governor of Missouri (2009-Present)[edit]

2008 election[edit]

Governor Matt Blunt announced on January 22, 2008 that he would not seek a second term. By the filing deadline on March 25, 2008, three Democratic and five Republican candidates had filed.[9]

In the primary election on August 5, 2008, Nixon was selected to be the Democratic nominee, and U.S. Representative Kenny Hulshof was selected to be the Republican nominee. Jay Nixon won the gubernatorial race by 19 percentage points over Hulshof to become Missouri's 55th governor (by 58% to 39%) on November 4, 2008.

2012 election[edit]

Gov. Jay Nixon watches a Missouri Tigers volleyball game at the Hearnes Center in 2013.

The 2012 Missouri gubernatorial election was held on November 6, 2012. Gov. Nixon won the election against businessman Dave Spence.

Shooting of Michael Brown and 2014 Ferguson unrest[edit]

Gov. Nixon's handling of the Michael Brown shooting and subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, brought him international attention and criticism that he had not done enough to quell the rioting. As the details of the original shooting event emerged from investigators, police established curfews and deployed riot squads to maintain order. Along with peaceful protests, there was looting and violent unrest in the vicinity of the original shooting. According to media reports, there was police militarization when dealing with protests in Ferguson. Gov. Nixon first turned over control of the town to the Missouri State Highway Patrol and later declared a state of emergency and implemented nightly curfews, later calling in the National Guard to help restore peace and order.[10][11] The unrest continued on November 24, 2014 after the police officer who shot Michael Brown was not indicted by a grand jury.[12][13]

Electoral history[edit]

Missouri gubernatorial election, 2012 [14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jay Nixon (incumbent) 1,485,147 54.68% -3.71%
Republican Dave Spence 1,157,475 42.62% +3.12%
Libertarian Jim Higgins 73,196 2.70% +1.59%
Missouri Gubernatorial Election 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jay Nixon 1,680,611 58.40
Republican Kenny Hulshof 1,136,364 39.49
Libertarian Andy Finkenstadt 31,850 1.11 -
Constitution Greg Thompson 28,941 1.01
Missouri Attorney General Election 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jay Nixon 1,592,842 59.96
Republican Chris Byrd 1,000,503 37.66
Libertarian David R. Browning 43,538 1.64 -
Constitution David Fry 19,802 0.75
Missouri Attorney General Election 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jay Nixon 1,378,296 60.25
Republican Sam Jones 855,814 37.41
Libertarian Mitch Moore 53,363 2.33 -
Missouri U.S. Senate Election 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Kit Bond 830,625 52.68
Democratic Jay Nixon 690,208 43.77
Libertarian Tamara A. Millay 31,876 2.02 -
Constitution David Fry 15,368 0.97
Reform James F. Newport 8,780 0.56
Missouri Attorney General Election 1996
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jay Nixon 1,243,091 59.42
Republican Mark Bredemeier 767,962 36.71
Constitution Kimberly Lowe 81,074 3.88
Missouri Attorney General Election 1992
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jay Nixon 1,154,714 49.94
Republican David L. Steelman 1,064,814 46.05
Libertarian Mitchell J. Moore 92,576 4.00 -
Missouri U.S. Senate Election 1988
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Danforth 1,407,416 67.70
Democratic Jay Nixon 660,045 31.75
Libertarian John Guze 11,410 0.55 -


External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Harriett Woods
Democratic nominee for Senator from Missouri
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Alan Wheat
Preceded by
Geri Rothman-Serot
Democratic nominee for Senator from Missouri
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Nancy Farmer
Preceded by
Claire McCaskill
Democratic nominee for Governor of Missouri
2008, 2012
Most recent
Legal offices
Preceded by
William Webster
Attorney General of Missouri
Succeeded by
Chris Koster
Political offices
Preceded by
Matt Blunt
Governor of Missouri
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Joe Biden
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Missouri
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise John Boehner
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Paul LePage
as Governor of Maine
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Missouri
Succeeded by
Mike Beebe
as Governor of Arkansas