Republican candidates in Missouri’s gubernatorial primary are pledging an aggressive law-and-order approach, two years after the fatal Ferguson police shooting of Michael Brown prompted widespread protests, reports the Associated Press. The shooting of the black 18-year-old by a white officer called the nation’s attention to police race relations, but the four candidates aren’t focusing on complaints about police discrimination. Instead, their TV ads have shown images of riots while promising to “secure our streets” and “enforce the law.” Their ads show images of angry protesters and burning buildings and vehicles. They denounce “lawlessness” and “chaos” while promising to “secure our streets” and “enforce the law.” Absent is any reference to community complaints after the Brown shooting that police discriminate against black residents.
“I don’t want it to be a fair fight for our police; I want them to be able to show overwhelming force,” one of the candidates, former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, said in debate remarks echoed by her rivals. The approach appears to be playing well with the mostly white rural and suburban residents who will comprise the majority of voters in the Aug. 2 primary. Democratic incumbent Gov. Jay Nixon is term-limited. Attorney General Chris Koster, the most well-funded Democrat seeking to succeed Nixon, has avoided debating his lesser-known opponents and has yet to run ads. The intense Republican primary includes Hanaway, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, former Navy SEAL officer Eric Greitens, and former Marine and businessman John Brunner. Hanaway wants harsher mandatory sentences for people who target law officers and stronger community policing. Greitens asserts he would have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and exerted a personal “command presence” in Ferguson that “could have had peace by the second night.” Kinder has called Nixon’s slow deployment of the National Guard in Ferguson a “disgrace.”