The changing of the guard in the governor’s office early next year likely will look a lot like it has in the past.
Although there had been some consideration of shaking up the usual way of celebrating the passing of the torch in Missouri’s top elected office, Republican Eric Greitens is planning to host inaugural festivities that include a traditional ball in the Capitol, as well as prayer services and other related swearing in ceremonies.
“We are going to honor the traditions that have been done in the past,” Greitens senior adviser Austin Chambers said Friday.
Greitens, a former Navy SEAL who has no previous political experience, will be sworn into office at the Capitol at noon, Jan. 9. He will replace term-limited Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, after garnering 1.4 million votes on Nov. 8 to beat Attorney General Chris Koster by a 51-45 percent margin.
Chambers said the theme of the inaugural will be “The Heart of Missouri,” which will be highlighted by a “salute to service.”
In the days leading up to his swearing in, Greitens is planning a statewide fly-around to honor Missouri residents who serve the state and its residents, including law enforcement personnel, school teachers and others.
It won’t be the first time Greitens has used a “salute to service” theme. During his campaign he held an event with Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill, who claims he fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden.
Planning for the events is being overseen by Greitens’ privately financed inauguration committee, which is renting an office in downtown Jefferson City and soliciting contributions from donors.
He has a separate official transition office in a state office building near the Capitol. The $100,000 operation is funded by taxpayers and is charged with making plans for the next state budget and hiring people to serve in key posts within the new administration.
The more traditional approach to the inaugural comes nearly two years after Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, hosted an inaugural concert with country music star Toby Keith at a Springfield, Ill. convention center, rather than the more traditional ball.
During his two inaugurations, Nixon attempted to keep his ceremonies low key.
In 2005, for example, he wanted to have a “potluck” dinner after his swearing in, but the idea was nixed by health department officials who said supporters could only bring store-bought cookies.
Nixon served hamburgers and coleslaw at a post-inauguration lunch in 2009. He also brought in bands like the Poplar Bluff Possum Holler Fiddlers.
In 2001, when Republican Matt Blunt was sworn in, he promised an event that would cost significantly less than the $1 million party thrown by his predecessor, Democrat Bob Holden.
Holden’s festivities included four parties, including two under heated tents on the Capitol’s front lawn and the traditional ball inside the rotunda.
There also was a late night fireworks show.