Democratic gubernatorial candidate and De Soto native Jay Nixon did not have a private school education, and public education is a prominent part of his campaign.
"We need to make sure every child in the Show-Me State gets the education they deserve," Nixon said.
His supporters say Nixon is running for governor to bring change to Missouri.
"Fundamentally, Nixon understands where this state is and where it needs to go," Young Democrats of Missouri President Rick Puig said.
Nixon said his policies, and not U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof's, will be the ones to bring that change.
"Quite frankly, if Congressman Hulshof is elected, absolutely nothing will change," Nixon said in an e-mail.
Nixon cites his background as his motivation for running for governor.
"I noticed that the families in our community weren't being properly represented in state government," Nixon said.
His proposed education program, the Missouri Promise Plan, would provide financial assistance to community college students who move on to a four-year school.
"This would allow middle class families to send their kids to college debt free," state Democratic Party spokesman Jack Cardetti said.
Cardetti also disagreed with the controversial sale of part of the state student loan agency.
"He understands it's inexcusable to sell off the only entity that existed to make higher education affordable for students," Puig said about the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.
Nixon's Web site cites his past experience in state government as an asset to his campaign.
"Jay Nixon has the experience and integrity needed to lead Missouri in the right direction," his campaign Web site reads.
Nixon is promoting his policies as a departure from Gov. Matt Blunt's policies, while saying Hulshof would largely agree with Blunt.
"Hulshof's policy package directly reflects Gov. Blunt's," Puig said.
Nixon and his wife Georganne have been married for 20 years and have two sons, Jeremiah and Will.
The family attends First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City.
Subhead: Political career
Nixon began his career when he was elected to the state Senate in 1986 to represent Jefferson County, a job he held for six years. The Missouri Conservation Federation recognized him for his environmental work during that time, according to the his attorney general's Web site.
In 1992 he was elected as Missouri's 40th attorney general and served a total of four terms.
Nixon's attorney general platform focused on fighting crime, cleaning up government corruption and protecting consumers and the environment.
"I ran to restore integrity to the office, go after criminals, and to be a voice for consumers who are wronged by greedy corporations," Nixon said.
In 2000, Nixon created the Missouri Foundation for Health, which provided health care services to Missourians. During his time as attorney general, Nixon saved or generated $20.48 for every dollar appropriated to the attorney general's office, according to the attorney general's Web site.
Nixon also instituted the state's no call system. More than 2.6 million residential phone numbers are part of Missouri's No Call List, which lists people that solicitors cannot contact. This has decreased the amount of complaints from Missourians about telemarketing fraud.
Nixon created the Agriculture and Environment Division, which enforces Missouri's environmental laws and protects agricultural productivity. He also formed the state's first Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. This program recovered money Missouri would not otherwise receive in Medicaid fraud cases, according to the attorney general's Web site.
Nixon's office began defending the state against inmate lawsuits, which ended the process of paying outside attorneys. In Nixon v. Shrink, Nixon reinstated Missouri's campaign contribution limits, a decision that was recently repealed.
Nixon's litigation against tobacco companies marketing to young people resulted in the largest settlement in Missouri's history, according to a news release.
In 2007, Nixon earned Missouri more than $22.2 million from companies and people accused of fraud.
In May, Nixon obtained a court judgment that gave the seven state-operated veterans' homes $906,000.
Some feel Nixon's time in Jefferson City will aid his campaign.
"Nixon has taken on special interest groups as attorney general and has worked to protect Missouri families," Cardetti said.
Even though supporters cite Nixon's Jefferson City experience, they deride Hulshof's time in Washington.
"He has lost touch with Missouri families," Cardetti said.
Nixon also says Hulshof's record in Washington is a detriment.
"Hulshof has been in Washington for the past 12 years voting for the failed policies that have devastated our economy," Nixon said.
In addition to his education platform, Nixon said he is an aggressive law enforcement supporter.
"Jay believes that safe streets and neighborhoods are essential to a good quality of life and important to the success of local communities," according to his campaign Web site.