JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Mike Parson called a rare meeting Monday with Missouri's congressional delegation, earning bipartisan praise from lawmakers.
The group met to discuss a variety of issues facing the state, including infrastructure and the opioid crisis. Stepping out of Parson's office a little before noon, several lawmakers said their relationship with the current governor was already better than the one they had with Eric Greitens, who resigned less than two weeks ago. Both Parson and Greitens are Republicans.
The praise was particularly notable coming from Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is facing Attorney General Josh Hawley and several other GOP challengers in her bid for re-election. "I thought it was really refreshing that he reached out," McCaskill said, referring to Parson. Conversely, McCaskill said she couldn't specifically recall a single conversation she ever had with Greitens, who was known for frequently clashing with lawmakers of both parties. "This governor appears that he wants to work with everybody instead of fight everybody," McCaskill said.
Republican Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Blaine Luetkemeyer said they couldn't recall a similar gathering happening in years. "We're already one meeting ahead of both of the previous two governors," Luetkemeyer said, referring to Greitens and his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. Hartzler said her communication with Greitens had been minimal, while a long history of working with Parson has made outreach much easier. "I can text him, and he will text back quickly," Hartzler said.
That praise has been echoed by many state lawmakers in recent weeks, due partially to their familiarity with the new governor. Unlike Greitens, Parson has had a long history working in public, most recently as the state's lieutenant governor.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt and Reps. Ann Wagner, Jason Smith and Billy Long were also present at Monday's meeting, along with Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.
Parson is scheduled to meet with state lawmakers Monday afternoon before addressing a joint session of the Legislature.