Gov. Eric Greitens is years removed from his college boxing days and his time abroad as a Navy SEAL, yet he has retained a bellicose attitude as he ventures into Missouri politics.
The first-time Republican elected official presided over powerful GOP majorities in both chambers of the Missouri legislature, and make no mistake, the General Assembly took strides that will hearten conservatives and business leaders.
Greitens and Republican lawmakers had early success passing a law to prevent mandatory union dues, but GOP reforms to Missouri's labor organizations and civil court procedures did not come without chaos. Some of that, such as the Senate's 11th-hour feuding Friday, appeared to be rooted in partisan division. Other times, like when a few senators wanted to raise their own pay, Greitens inserted himself into the fray.
Speaking to reporters at his second official press conference since taking office, Greitens' language was colored by the aggression that has marked his tenure.
"We've finished the first round of a 10-round fight, and we hit 'em hard, and we won the first round for the people of Missouri," Greitens said at the Friday evening press conference.
Beyond describing his first four months in office with a boxing metaphor, Greitens repeatedly referred to himself as a fighter — against liberals, lobbyists, plaintiffs' attorneys, "corrupt special interests" and elected officials in his own party.
"Each and every day, we fought for the people of Missouri, and I'm proud of the fights that we've won," Greitens said.
If this was Greitens' first round, he threw plenty of jabs and landed his share, though he seemed aware that he is yet to deliver a knockout blow. And on Friday, he parried questions about A New Missouri, Inc., a nonprofit run by campaign aides.
A New Missouri's stated goal is to promote conservative policies and advocate for Greitens' agenda, including messages about decreasing lobbyists' influence and criticizing Sen. Claire McCaskill. Ostensibly separate from the governor's office and his campaign committee, A New Missouri doesn't have to say who gives it money.
The nonprofit faced backlash after publishing a Republican state senator's cellphone number. A New Missouri also prepared attack ads against several other senators and prompted a stir about ethics at a time when a bill limiting lobbyist gifts — a stated priority of the House and Greitens — was stalled in the Senate.
Greitens claims to have no day-to-day involvement with A New Missouri, and he declined to provide specifics about his role with the organization when asked Friday.
The governor also dodged when asked whether he would call a special session to take care of unfinished business. He wouldn't say yes or no, and he returned to his boxing metaphor to hint at some summer lawmaking.