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Jay Nixon
Jay Nixon 2016.jpg
Nixon in 2016
55th Governor of Missouri
In office
January 12, 2009 – January 9, 2017
Lieutenant Peter Kinder
Preceded by Matt Blunt
Succeeded by Eric Greitens
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 L. Webster
Succeeded by Chris Koster
Member of the Missouri Senate
from the 22nd district
In office
January 7, 1987 – January 11, 1993
Preceded by Clifford W. "Jack" Gannon
Succeeded by William McKenna
Personal details
Jeremiah Wilson Nixon

(1956-02-13) February 13, 1956 (age 67)
De Soto, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Georganne Wheeler
Children 2
Education University of Missouri (BA, JD)

Jeremiah Wilson "Jay" Nixon (born February 13, 1956) is an American lawyer and politician who served as the 55th Governor of Missouri from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was first elected to the governorship in 2008 and reelected in 2012. Prior to his tenure as Missouri Governor, he served as the 40th Missouri Attorney General from 1993 to 2009. After leaving public office he joined the Dowd Bennett law firm in St. Louis. As of 2022, he is the most recent Democrat to serve as the Governor of Missouri.

Early life

Nixon was born and raised in De Soto, Missouri. His mother, Betty Lea Nixon (née Wilson), 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 three paternal great-grandfathers, Abraham Jonas, was an early Jewish settler in Illinois and friend of former President Abraham Lincoln (one of Nixon's paternal great-grandmothers was Jewish, though Nixon is Methodist). 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, served as Mayor of Philadelphia (from 1800—1801 and 1805—1806).

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.

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 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 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.

Governor of Missouri (2009–2017)


Jay Nixon canvassing doors
Nixon campaigning 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. Nixon won the nomination and the election.

2012 election

Nixon defeated Republican Dave Spence to win a second term in 2012, running on a platform of fiscal responsibility and bipartisanship.


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


Following the death of Tom Schweich, Gov. Nixon appointed Boone County Treasurer Nicole Galloway to the post of Missouri State Auditor in 2015. Galloway later won a full term as state auditor in the 2018 general election. As of 2022, she remains the only Democrat elected to a statewide Missouri office.


Throughout his time in office, Nixon made budget restrictions to account for lower-than-expected revenues, or statutory changes affecting the budget. Upon taking office, Nixon "began cutting spending almost immediately and has made repeated reductions to the budgets passed by the Legislature in subsequent years."

In 2010, Nixon was called the state's budget "cutter-in-chief" by the Associated Press for his efforts to reduce spending and right-size state government.

Some of Nixon's budget restrictions drew criticism and in 2011 Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich filed suit arguing that Nixon lacked the constitutional authority to restrict spending. Schweich's lawsuit was dismissed by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2013 but the following year the Missouri General Assembly passed and voters approved Amendment 10, granting legislators the ability to overrule a governor's budget restrictions.


Jay Nixon at the Missouri AFL-CIO State Convention
Nixon speaking to the Missouri AFL–CIO

After taking office during the Great Recession, Nixon focused on creating jobs, investing in education and strengthening the state's economy while keeping the budget in balance.

From November 2015 to November 2016, Missouri added 57,100 jobs, more than all eight of its neighboring states.

Aiming to revitalize the state's automotive manufacturing industry, Nixon created an Automotive Jobs Task Force and in 2011 called a special session of the General Assembly to pass the Missouri Manufacturing Jobs Act. On October 21, 2011 Ford confirmed that it would make a $1.1 billion investment in its Kansas City Assembly Plant and add 1,600 jobs at the facility. On November 4, 2011 General Motors announced plans for a $380 million investment in its Wentzville plant outside St. Louis.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch editorialized that "key to both Ford and GM agreeing to expand in the state were incentives championed in last year's Legislative special session by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, and the then-leaders of the House and Senate, Ron Richard and Charlie Shields, both Republicans."


Governor Jay Nixon Speaks at Town Hall PTA Meeting
Nixon visiting an elementary school in 2014

During his eight years in office, Nixon negotiated four tuition freezes for students at public higher education institutions.

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. The appointment followed a July 2016 legal action in which Barrett et al. challenged the constitutionality of restricting funds for indigent defense. In an open letter to Nixon, Barrett cited Missouri Revised Statues Section 600.042.5(1) as well as the 6th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution as reasons for the controversial action. Barrett blamed Nixon for the underfunding and understaffing of the public defender system and chose to appoint him because he was "the one attorney in the state who not only created the problem, but is in a unique position to address it." According to Barrett, the funding for "resources that assist with delivering legal services" had increased between 5 and 6% since 2009, while costs over the same period had increased 18%. The case load had increased over 12% in the past year. According to a 2008 report by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, Missouri ranks 49th in per capita legal aid spending. Ruth Petsch, Jackson County Missouri's chief public defender, cited the lack of 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.

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. The unrest continued on November 24, 2014 after the police officer who shot Michael Brown was not indicted by a grand jury.

After politics

From April 15–19, 2019 Nixon served as a visiting Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Nixon represents televangelist Jim Bakker in his lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt for allegedly selling false cures for the 2019-20 strains of coronavirus.

Personal life

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and First Lady Georganne Nixon
Georganne and Jay Nixon in 2011

After leaving office Nixon moved to University City, Missouri with his wife Georganne. The couple have two adult sons, Jeremiah and Will, both named after their father. Nixon is a Methodist.

Electoral history

As Governor

Missouri gubernatorial election, 2012
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 -
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