GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Spence speaks at MU

Dave Spence vowed to take Missouri from "lagger to leader."
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence speaks during the MU College Republicans’ meeting Tuesday in the Agriculture Science Building. Spence focused on gathering student support for the November election.

Election season is nearly upon Missouri, and so are the politicians. The Missouri College Republicans hosted Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence at their meeting Tuesday in the Agriculture Building.

Before speaking, Spence went around the classroom and shook hands with each member of his audience, asking names, hometowns and whether they would be voting in November's election. During his speech, Spence spoke of his family, his relationship with MU and his experiences as a small businessman.

Spence graduated from MU in 1980, and after briefly working for a family-owned business that went bust, he bought a small St. Louis plastics company called Alpha Packaging.

"In 1985 I started my own 'American dream,'" Spence said. "Alpha began with only 15 employees. Today, it employs more than 800, most of whom are from the Greater St. Louis area."

He talked extensively of his many years in the private sector, repeatedly emphasizing that he is not a career politician, referring to Gov. Jay Nixon (D-Mo.), who has been a politician in Missouri for more than 20 years. For most of his life, Spence has been running a family and a business.

"Jay Nixon appoints cronies, doles out political favors and is pay for play," Spence said. "I work hard and I tell the truth. With me, you may not always hear what you want to hear, but you'll hear the truth."

Missouri Democratic Party spokesman Issac Wright said he was skeptical of Spence's credibility.

"Let the numbers speak for themselves," Wright said.

Spence was critical of Nixon and the state's economic hard times, citing the statistic that 1-in-6 Missourians is on food stamps. Recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics said that in three years, Missouri jumped from 49th to sixth in the nation in small business activity and is a full percentage point below the national unemployment rate, at 7.2 percent as of July 2012.

"We are 49th in the nation in higher education funding," Spence said, referring to Nixon's nearly $9 million in cuts for higher education funding in the past year alone. "Cutting higher education funding is like cutting the workforce when sales are down. Last year, we were 48th in economic growth. Missouri needs to be taken from a lagger to a leader."

As of last week, Nixon maintains a nine-point lead over Spence in the Missouri Gubernatorial race, with 46 points to Spence's 37, according to a report released by Public Policy Polling.

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