Nixon easily captures win

After a three-year campaign, Jay Nixon was elected as Missouri's next governor. Nixon beat Republican Congressman Kenny Hulshof 57 percent to 41 percent, with 89 percent of precincts reporting.

Nixon watched the numbers roll in at his watch party at The Pageant in St. Louis.

Although event staff did not know the exact number of supporters at the watch party, Nixon's campaign estimated the number to be around 1,000.

As part of his acceptance speech, Nixon promised Missourians change with his policies.

"Missourians voted for change and with me as governor, change is what you'll get," Nixon said to the cheering crowd.

St. Louis firefighter and De Soto native Cory Cooper celebrated the win along with Nixon.

"It's awesome that he came up from a small beginning and rose up to a position to do something for our state," Cooper said.

Other Missouri residents shared Cooper's excitement at Nixon's election.

"He has the experience to be a great governor," Nixon supporter David Cosgrove said.

Nixon promised Missourians a brighter future with his election.

"Missouri's best days are ahead of us," Nixon said.

As part of his acceptance speech, Nixon called on Missourians to meet the future and not fear it.

"We need to see the future and boldly move forward to greet it," Nixon said.

At a watch party in Columbia, Hulshof thanked supporters during his concession speech.

"Our campaign was professional. It was awesome," he said, standing next to his wife, Renee, who fought back tears. "We worked as hard as humanly possible."

Hulshof and Nixon spoke after the election and Hulshof was very gracious, Nixon's campaign spokesman Oren Shur said.

Nixon announced in 2005 that he planned to run for governor. After Republican incumbent Matt Blunt announced he would not seek re-election in January, Hulshof faced state Treasurer Sarah Steelman in a contentious primary for the Republican nod.

In the race between the two candidates, Nixon's campaign ran 18 TV ads while Hulshof's campaign ran 12 campaign ads. Nixon's campaign steadily spent more money throughout the election than Hulshof's did, according to campaign finance reports.

Nixon won Boone County by 13 points, with 46,264 votes, compared to Hulshof's 35,746.

As governor, Nixon has proposed the Missouri Promise for his higher education plan, which would pay for Missouri students who already attend community college for free to finish their education at a four-year school. To qualify, students need to have at least a 3.0 GPA, complete 50 hours of community service per year and avoid disciplinary problems at school to receive a Missouri Promise scholarship.

Nixon also said he will restore 2005 health care cuts and expand, which allows people to buy cheaper health care for children. He will also establish a Blue Ribbon Commission to modernize health care delivery and management by conducting performance reviews of the health care system.

- Maneater reporters Wes Duplantier, Kelsey Proud and Sam Butterfield contributed to this report.

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