Jay Nixon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jay Nixon
Jay Nixon 2016.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
Personal details
Born Jeremiah Wilson Nixon
(1956-02-13) February 13, 1956 (age 60)
De Soto, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Georganne Nixon
Children Jeremiah
Residence Governor's Mansion
Alma mater University of Missouri,
Religion United Methodism
Website Government 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, Nixon was first elected Governor in 2008 and reelected in 2012.

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 he was elected Attorney General of Missouri in 1992. 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 reelection, 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—1801 and 1805—1806).[2] He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1978, later earning a law degree from the same institution.

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 two 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%.


Nixon implemented 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 the state's Attorney General, 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. His 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. He 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]


Nixon in 2008

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]

The 2012 Missouri gubernatorial election was held on November 6, 2012. Nixon won re-election against Republican businessman Dave Spence.


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

Public Defender System funding crisis[edit]

On August 2, 2016, Michael Barrett, director of the Missouri State Public Defender System called on Nixon to act as a public defender in a criminal assault case. Nixon's communications director, Scott Holste, questioned the authority of Barrett to do so.[10]

The appointment follows a July 2016 legal action in which Barrett et al. challenge the constitutionality of restricting funds for indigent defense.[11] In an open letter to Nixon, Barrett cites Missouri Revised Statues Section 600.042.5(1)[12] as well as the 6th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution as reason for the controversial action. Barrett blames Nixon for the underfunding and understaffing of the public defender system and chose to appoint him because he is "the one attorney in the state who not only created the problem, but is in a unique position to address it."[13] According to Barrett, the funding for "resources that assist with delivering legal services" have increased between 5 and 6% since 2009, while costs over the same period have increased 18%. The case load has increased over 12% in the past year.[14] According to a 2008 report by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, Missouri ranks 49th in per capita legal aid spending.[15] Ruth Petsch, Jackson County Missouri’s chief public defender, cites the lack funding for inadequate defense and 9 to 12 month delays in adjudication for indigent persons who often remain in jail and are unable to maintain active employment during that time.[16]

The constitutional requirement for the public defender system at all levels of government was established in 1963 by Gideon v. Wainwright.

Challenge from the State Auditor[edit]

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

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. Nixon'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."[citation needed]

Special session[edit]

On July 15, 2010, Nixon signed a tax incentives bill designed to support the state's automotive industry and manufacturing jobs. This bill passed after a 4-week special legislative session that he called to start on June 24 of that year. The incentives allow automakers to retain withholding taxes only after a company makes a firm commitment to make capital investments in productive capacity and keep workers on the job in Missouri. To offset the cost of the incentives, the governor asked legislators to reform the state's 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% of their pay to the pension system, work at least 5 years longer and must work 10 years to be guaranteed their pension, as opposed to 5 years on the old system.[citation needed]

Tax credits[edit]

On July 21, 2010, he 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. 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. Critics argued that if the governor was serious about stimulating productive economic growth in Missouri, he would eliminate the tax incentive programs entirely.[citation needed]

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 and 9 p.m.[citation needed]

Economic development[edit]

In September 2010, Nixon outlined his plan to move the state's economy forward at the Governor's Economic Development Conference (GEDC) in Kansas City. He 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. In 2013 Nixon met with company officials from Pharma Medica, a Canadian-based contract research organization about expanding to Missouri. The company opened its first US clinic and bio-tech lab in November 2013, and starting running clinical research trials in February 2014.[citation needed]

Fiscal policy[edit]

Nixon proposed a fiscal budget for fiscal year 2012 that would reduce total spending by 2.5%. 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.[citation needed]

The state plane[edit]

It cost taxpayers nearly $400,000 for Nixon to fly 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 January 31, 2009. Lawmakers are working on legislation to prohibit the governor from using funds from other departments for travel expenses.[citation needed]

Job creation ranking[edit]

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals looking at 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation record, Nixon was ranked number 39. The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[citation needed]

Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee[edit]

In October 2013, Nixon was appointed Chair of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee in the National Governors Association by NGA Chair Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and NGA Vice Chair Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

Shooting of Michael Brown and Ferguson unrest[edit]

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.[17][18] The unrest continued on November 24, 2014 after the police officer who shot Michael Brown was not indicted by a grand jury.[19][20]

Electoral history[edit]

As Governor[edit]

Missouri gubernatorial election, 2012[21]
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 Democratic Primary Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon (incumbent) 270,140 85.99
Democratic William Campbell 25,775 8.20
Democratic Clay Thunderhawk 18,243 5.81
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 Gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon 304,181 85.0
Democratic Daniel Carroll 53,835 15.0

As Attorney General[edit]

Missouri Attorney General Election 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon (incumbent) 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 (incumbent) 1,378,296 60.25
Republican Sam Jones 855,814 37.41
Libertarian Mitch Moore 53,363 2.33 -
Missouri Attorney General Election 1996
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon (incumbent) 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 -

U.S. Senate elections[edit]

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 U.S. Senate Democratic Primary Election 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon 200,339 66.5
Democratic James Askew 57,364 19.1
Democratic Daniel Dodson 19,257 6.4
Democratic Bob Buck 14,774 4.9
Democratic Andrew Ostrowski 9,389 3.1
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 -


  1. ^ "Jay Nixon". Nationaljournal.com. February 13, 1956. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Jay Nixon ancestry". Freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Biography of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon". Governor.mo.gov. November 4, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  4. ^ Leonard, Scott. "Home". Barristermagazine.com. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  5. ^ [1] Archived July 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Jason Falls. "Hey, Put Your Twitter Where Your Mouth Is". Socialmediaexplorer.com. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  7. ^ Keller, Rudi (September 28, 2008). "Local News: Jay Nixon: A life in public service (09/28/08)". Semissourian.com. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Nixon blames 'overzealousness' for militia report". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on March 30, 2009. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  9. ^ [2] Archived February 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Reilly, Katie (August 13, 2016), Missouri’s Governor Cut Funding to the State’s Public Defenders. So They Assigned Him a Case, Time, retrieved August 13, 2016 
  11. ^ Barrett, Michael (July 13, 2016), Public Defender Files Legal Challenge to Governor’s Withhold Actions, Missouri State Public Defender, Office of the Director, retrieved August 14, 2016 
  12. ^ "600, Public Defenders", Missouri Revised Statutes, Missouri General Assembly, July 13, 2016, retrieved August 14, 2016 
  13. ^ Barrett, Michael (August 2, 2016), Letter to the Honorable Jay Nixon (PDF), Missouri State Public Defender, Office of the Director, retrieved August 13, 2016 
  14. ^ Barrett, Michael (August 9, 2016), Public Defender Response to Governor’s Comments (PDF), Missouri State Public Defender, Office of the Director, retrieved August 13, 2016 
  15. ^ Wallace, Jo-Ann; et al. (June 2008), A Race to the Bottom: Evaluation: Trial-Level Indigent Defense Systems In Michigan (PDF), National Legal Aid & Defender Association, retrieved August 14, 2016 
  16. ^ Martin, Luke X. (August 11, 2016), Missouri's Top Public Defender Doubles Down On Jay Nixon's Assignment, KCUR Public Radio, retrieved August 13, 2016 
  17. ^ "Police in Ferguson ignite debate about military tactics". USA Today. August 19, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  18. ^ Gibbons, Thomas (August 14, 2014). "Military veterans see deeply flawed police response in Ferguson". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  19. ^ Davey, Monica; Julie Bosman (November 24, 2014). "Protests Flare After Ferguson Police Officer Is Not Indicted". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  20. ^ Harlan, Chico (November 25, 2014). "After a night of violence in Ferguson, Nixon moves to prevent more destruction". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  21. ^ [3] Archived November 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.

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
Succeeded by
Chris Koster
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 Paul Ryan
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
Asa Hutchinson
as Governor of Arkansas