Greitens, Koster square off in 1st Missouri governor debate

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s gubernatorial candidates will get their first chance to showcase their differences face-to-face today at a debate in Branson.

The Missouri Press Association is hosting the forum as part of its annual convention. Republican candidate Eric Greitens and Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster will be joined in the hour-long debate by Libertarian Cisse Spragins, Independent Lester Turilli Jr., and the Green Party’s Don Fitz.

Greitens, 42, comes in with more recent debate experience. The former Navy SEAL officer and first-time political candidate participated in debates during a hard-fought, four-person GOP primary. Greitens earned 35 percent of the primary vote to defeat Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, former Missouri House Speaker and U.S. Attorney Catherine Hannaway, and businessman John Brunner.

Koster, 52, had a much easier road, defeating three lightly funded contenders in the Aug. 2 primary election.

Two-term incumbent Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon was prohibited by term limits from running again.

Greitens touts his military experience and the need for change in his campaign appearances and TV ads. Koster has painted himself as fiscally conservative and endorsed by the National Rifle Association, a rarity for a Democrat.

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