ST. LOUIS • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster is traveling Missouri this week touting his endorsement by the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, continuing a campaign strategy of reaching to the right of the Democratic base.
Koster, Missouri's attorney general and a former prosecutor, is conducting news conferences in St. Louis, Springfield, Kansas City and Columbia to call attention to the police endorsement.
The endorsement was actually approved some time ago by a vote of the FOP's 6,500 members. Koster's focus on it this week comes on the heels of a spate of endorsements from agricultural groups — usually the purview of Republicans.
Koster, himself a former Republican, is running as a law-and-order moderate, a common strategy for Democrats seeking statewide office in a state that is generally “red,” politically.
On Nov. 8, Koster will face Republican nominee Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL and former Democrat running as a political outsider. Greitens and other Republicans have made an issue of what they allege was Koster's inadequate support of law enforcement during the unrest in Ferguson.
Jeff Roorda, executive director of the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association (SLPOA), disputed that assessment in an interview today.
“We've got a democratic process for these (FOP) endorsements,” he said. “Gen. Koster was the clear choice. I have absolutely no hesitation about his support of law enforcement during Ferguson or any other time.” SLPOA is part of the FOP.
Greitens' campaign didn't respond to a request for comment on the FOP's Koster endorsement. Koster's campaign manager, Austin Chambers, has recently derided the concept of group endorsements as unimportant.
Greitens earlier this year received and then lost the endorsement of SLPOA in what has been described as a misunderstanding.
The association took an informal vote and backed Greitens in the Republican primary, even though the full FOP already had voted to endorse Koster for the general election. As a result of the conflict, the association sent Greitens' campaign a cease-and-desist letter forcing him to stop touting the association's endorsement.