Jay Nixon

Jay Nixon
55th Governor of Missouri
Assumed office
January 12, 2009
Lieutenant Peter Kinder
Preceded by Matt Blunt
Succeeded by Eric Greitens (elect)
40th Attorney General of Missouri
In office
January 11, 1993  January 12, 2009
Governor Mel Carnahan
Roger Wilson
Bob Holden
Matt Blunt
Preceded by William Webster
Succeeded by Chris Koster
Personal details
Born Jeremiah Wilson Nixon
(1956-02-13) February 13, 1956
De Soto, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Georganne Nixon
Children Jeremiah
Residence Governor's Mansion
Alma mater University of Missouri,
(BA, JD)
Website Government website

Jeremiah Wilson "Jay" Nixon (born February 13, 1956) is an American politician who is the 55th and current Governor of Missouri. A member of the Democratic Party, Nixon was first elected Governor in 2008 and reelected in 2012. Prior to his governorship, he served the state's 40th Attorney General from 1993 to 2009.

Early life

Jay Nixon is a lifelong resident of De Soto, Missouri, where he was born. His mother, Betty Lea (née Willson), was a teacher and president of the local school board, and his father, Jeremiah "Jerry" Nixon, served as the city's mayor. One of his paternal thrice great-grandfathers, Abraham Jonas, was an early Jewish settler in Illinois and friend of Abraham Lincoln (one of Nixon's paternal great-grandmothers was Jewish, though Nixon is Methodist).[1] His great-great-grandfather Charles Henry Jonas was the brother of Democratic U.S. Senator Benjamin F. Jonas of Louisiana and another, James Oscar Nixon, was a brother of U.S. Representative John Thompson Nixon of New Jersey. Another paternal ancestor, John Inskeep, had served as Mayor of Philadelphia (from 1800—1801 and 1805—1806).[2]

Missouri State Senate (1987–1993)

In 1986, after a period of private practice in his hometown, Jay Nixon was elected to the Missouri Senate from a district in Jefferson County, serving for two terms from 1987 to 1993.[3]

Missouri Attorney General (1993–2009)


As the state's Attorney General, Nixon created the Environmental Protection Division to enforce Missouri's environmental laws. Attorneys in this division take legal action to stop the pollution of the state's air, water and soil and to look after Missouri's agricultural interests. Successful litigation by the division has resulted in the cleanup of polluted sites and millions of dollars awarded to the state. His aggressive actions in the Attorney General's Office earned him national recognition. Barrister magazine[4] named him one of the 20 outstanding young lawyers in the nation, and the Missouri Jaycees selected him one of Ten Outstanding Young Missourians. Prior to becoming Attorney General, he was recognized by the Conservation Federation of Missouri[5] for his environmental work as a state senator.

In 2013, he joined with nine mayors to establish July 15 as Social Media Giving Day, encouraging citizens to support charities via social media.[6]


Jay Nixon has overseen the state's involvement in the court settlements that ended mandatory urban busing in St. Louis and Kansas City's public schools.[7]

The Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) issued a report titled "The Modern Militia Movement" on February 20, 2009, informing the Missouri State Highway Patrol of several groups of people who could possibly be linked to domestic militia groups. According to the report, these groups included white Christians, supporters of third-party presidential candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and Chuck Baldwin, as well as opponents of gun control, illegal immigration, abortion, the Federal Reserve System, and the Internal Revenue Service. Following a joint letter from Paul, Barr, and Baldwin condemning the report, Nixon and the MIAC issued an apology concerning the report and stated that it will no longer be displayed on any official state websites.[8]

Governor of Missouri (2009–present)


Nixon in 2008

2008 election

Governor Matt Blunt announced on January 22, 2008 that he would not seek a second term. By the filing deadline on March 25, 2008, three Democratic and five Republican candidates had filed.[9]


Gov. Jay Nixon watches a Missouri Tigers volleyball game at the Hearnes Center in 2013.

Public Defender System funding crisis

On August 2, 2016, Michael Barrett, director of the Missouri State Public Defender System called on Nixon to act as a public defender in a criminal assault case. Nixon's communications director, Scott Holste, questioned the authority of Barrett to do so.[10] The appointment followed a July 2016 legal action in which Barrett et al. challenge the constitutionality of restricting funds for indigent defense.[11] In an open letter to Nixon, Barrett cites Missouri Revised Statues Section 600.042.5(1)[12] as well as the 6th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution as reason for the controversial action. Barrett blames Nixon for the underfunding and understaffing of the public defender system and chose to appoint him because he is "the one attorney in the state who not only created the problem, but is in a unique position to address it."[13] According to Barrett, the funding for "resources that assist with delivering legal services" have increased between 5 and 6% since 2009, while costs over the same period have increased 18%. The case load has increased over 12% in the past year.[14] According to a 2008 report by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, Missouri ranks 49th in per capita legal aid spending.[15] Ruth Petsch, Jackson County Missouri’s chief public defender, cites the lack funding for inadequate defense and 9 to 12 month delays in adjudication for indigent persons who often remain in jail and are unable to maintain active employment during that time.[16]

Shooting of Michael Brown and Ferguson unrest

Gov. Nixon first turned over control of the town to the Missouri State Highway Patrol and later declared a state of emergency and implemented nightly curfews, later calling in the National Guard to help restore peace and order.[17][18] The unrest continued on November 24, 2014 after the police officer who shot Michael Brown was not indicted by a grand jury.[19][20]

Electoral history

As Governor

Missouri gubernatorial election, 2012[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon (incumbent) 1,485,147 54.68% −3.71%
Republican Dave Spence 1,157,475 42.62% +3.12%
Libertarian Jim Higgins 73,196 2.70% +1.59%
Missouri Gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon (incumbent) 270,140 85.99
Democratic William Campbell 25,775 8.20
Democratic Clay Thunderhawk 18,243 5.81
Missouri Gubernatorial Election 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon 1,680,611 58.40
Republican Kenny Hulshof 1,136,364 39.49
Libertarian Andy Finkenstadt 31,850 1.11 -
Constitution Greg Thompson 28,941 1.01
Missouri Gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon 304,181 85.0
Democratic Daniel Carroll 53,835 15.0

As Attorney General

Missouri Attorney General Election 2004
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon (incumbent) 1,592,842 59.96
Republican Chris Byrd 1,000,503 37.66
Libertarian David R. Browning 43,538 1.64 -
Constitution David Fry 19,802 0.75
Missouri Attorney General Election 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon (incumbent) 1,378,296 60.25
Republican Sam Jones 855,814 37.41
Libertarian Mitch Moore 53,363 2.33 -
Missouri Attorney General Election 1996
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon (incumbent) 1,243,091 59.42
Republican Mark Bredemeier 767,962 36.71
Constitution Kimberly Lowe 81,074 3.88
Missouri Attorney General Election 1992
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon 1,154,714 49.94
Republican David L. Steelman 1,064,814 46.05
Libertarian Mitchell J. Moore 92,576 4.00 -

U.S. Senate elections

Missouri U.S. Senate Election 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Kit Bond 830,625 52.68
Democratic Jay Nixon 690,208 43.77
Libertarian Tamara A. Millay 31,876 2.02 -
Constitution David Fry 15,368 0.97
Reform James F. Newport 8,780 0.56
Missouri U.S. Senate Democratic Primary Election 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jay Nixon 200,339 66.5
Democratic James Askew 57,364 19.1
Democratic Daniel Dodson 19,257 6.4
Democratic Bob Buck 14,774 4.9
Democratic Andrew Ostrowski 9,389 3.1
Missouri U.S. Senate Election 1988
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican John Danforth 1,407,416 67.70
Democratic Jay Nixon 660,045 31.75
Libertarian John Guze 11,410 0.55 -


  1. "Jay Nixon". Nationaljournal.com. February 13, 1956. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  2. "Jay Nixon ancestry". Freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  3. "Biography of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon". Governor.mo.gov. November 4, 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  4. Leonard, Scott. "Home". Barristermagazine.com. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  5. Archived July 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. Jason Falls. "Hey, Put Your Twitter Where Your Mouth Is". Socialmediaexplorer.com. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  7. Keller, Rudi (September 28, 2008). "Local News: Jay Nixon: A life in public service (09/28/08)". Semissourian.com. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  8. "Nixon blames 'overzealousness' for militia report". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on March 30, 2009. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  9. Archived February 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. Reilly, Katie (August 13, 2016), Missouri’s Governor Cut Funding to the State’s Public Defenders. So They Assigned Him a Case, Time, retrieved August 13, 2016
  11. Barrett, Michael (July 13, 2016), Public Defender Files Legal Challenge to Governor’s Withhold Actions, Missouri State Public Defender, Office of the Director, retrieved August 14, 2016
  12. "600, Public Defenders", Missouri Revised Statutes, Missouri General Assembly, July 13, 2016, retrieved August 14, 2016
  13. Barrett, Michael (August 2, 2016), Letter to the Honorable Jay Nixon (PDF), Missouri State Public Defender, Office of the Director, retrieved August 13, 2016
  14. Barrett, Michael (August 9, 2016), Public Defender Response to Governor’s Comments (PDF), Missouri State Public Defender, Office of the Director, retrieved August 13, 2016
  15. Wallace, Jo-Ann; et al. (June 2008), A Race to the Bottom: Evaluation: Trial-Level Indigent Defense Systems In Michigan (PDF), National Legal Aid & Defender Association, retrieved August 14, 2016
  16. Martin, Luke X. (August 11, 2016), Missouri's Top Public Defender Doubles Down On Jay Nixon's Assignment, KCUR Public Radio, retrieved August 13, 2016
  17. "Police in Ferguson ignite debate about military tactics". USA Today. August 19, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  18. Gibbons, Thomas (August 14, 2014). "Military veterans see deeply flawed police response in Ferguson". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  19. Davey, Monica; Julie Bosman (November 24, 2014). "Protests Flare After Ferguson Police Officer Is Not Indicted". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  20. Harlan, Chico (November 25, 2014). "After a night of violence in Ferguson, Nixon moves to prevent more destruction". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  21. Archived November 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jay Nixon.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Harriett Woods
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Missouri
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Alan Wheat
Preceded by
Geri Rothman-Serot
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Missouri
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Nancy Farmer
Preceded by
Claire McCaskill
Democratic nominee for Governor of Missouri
2008, 2012
Succeeded by
Chris Koster
Legal offices
Preceded by
William Webster
Attorney General of Missouri
Succeeded by
Chris Koster
Political offices
Preceded by
Matt Blunt
Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by
Eric Greitens
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Joe Biden
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Missouri
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Paul Ryan
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Paul LePage
as Governor of Maine
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Missouri
Succeeded by
Asa Hutchinson
as Governor of Arkansas
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