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Gubernatorial candidate Spence speaks to GOP women's club in Cape
One of Dave Spence's most formative memories took place in Jackson nearly three decades ago, when he was forced to lay off 84 people from a plant his family owned.
Since then, that memory has been a driving force in his life that has culminated in a run for Missouri governor this year, the Republican candidate said in a stop in Cape Girardeau on Friday.
"It was a horrible experience," Spence told the gathered Cape Girardeau County Republican Women's Club. "Since then, that's been a guiding force in my life to do the right thing and to try to make the right decisions."
The family business went under during the recession of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Spence said. But Missouri's economy is creating similarly tough economic times today, Spence said, which is why he said he should replace Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in the Nov. 6 general election. Spence, who stepped down last year as president and CEO of Alpha Packaging, must defeat fellow Republicans John D. Weiler, Bill Randles and Fred Sauer in the Aug. 7 primary first.
"It's time someone like myself steps up and fights for American jobs and American workers," Spence said. "We have been cavalier about shipping jobs overseas. Mexico was a speed bump on the way to China. But these are not statistics. They are families."
Spence, a St. Louis businessman, pointed out that, unlike Nixon, he knows how to create jobs and to make payroll. In 1985, when Spence was 26, he bought Alpha Plastics and transformed it from a plant with 15 employees to a company that now employs more than 800 people with projected revenue this year of $230 million.
"There has been no one fighting for Missouri for a long time," Spence said. "They want to throw money at it. They want to throw incentives. ... We didn't want incentives. We wanted the government out of our lives. Our goal needs to be common sense -- and get out of the way."
During his half-hour talk, Spence said Missouri is in trouble, noting that the state is 49th in the country in job creation and that 1 in 6 Missourians are on food stamps with the trend drawing closer to 1 in 5. Spence has pledged to never increase taxes and promised to block laws like President Barack Obama's health care reform and to cut what he considers wasteful and redundant government spending.
He criticized Nixon for being a "career politician."
The Missouri Democratic Party has taken Spence to task for statements he's made on the campaign trail that were similar to what Spence said in Cape Girardeau on Friday. While Spence is running as a job creator who has a distaste for government aid and incentives, Democrats have pointed out that a business venture that Spence took in New York involved him taking state aid to create jobs. Such discrepancies, the party has said, make him an unreliable choice for governor.
Spence seemed undeterred Friday, even touching on the fact that some consider Nixon unbeatable in November. But Spence said he believes GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney will carry Missouri in November, which will be good news for Republicans across the state.
"Some people in certain corners say that Jay Nixon can't be beat," Spence said. "That is a myth."
236 S. Broadview St., Cape Girardeau, MO