Kehoe says business background helped his political career
JEFFERSON CITY - When Gov. Mike Parson appointed Mike Kehoe as his lieutenant governor in June, it was not the first time Kehoe's career path took an unexpected turn.
More than 20 years ago, the St. Louis native moved to Jefferson City to continue the family tradition of running car dealerships.
He quickly built a name for himself there, where he became recognizable by jingles from his dealership commercials. Friends say, in turn, Kehoe also built a good reputation for himself among colleagues and competitors.
"The first time I met him, I always thought that he was a good communicator, you know, he’d look you right in the eye," said Kevin Riley, co-owner of Riley Auto Group. "He was good at communicating, remembering names."
Kehoe said his transition to politics started when he was appointed to the Missouri Highway Transportation Commission, where he developed a passion for the state highway system and infrastructure.
He said his move to the Senate in 2010 was seamless. Kehoe continued to run his dealership for his first year as a senator, until he sold it in 2011.
"I'm not a good relaxer," he said. "I enjoy working."
When Parson appointed him as lieutenant governor, some Democrats filed suit, saying the move violated the constitution. That lawsuit was dismissed Wednesday.
Despite that dispute, many people say he is well-liked on both sides of the aisle.
"He will make an excellent lieutenant governor and I look forward to continue to work with him," said Sen. Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis.
Kehoe said he was "humbled and highly honored" when Parson appointed him. Kehoe said he hopes to focus on workforce development and the state's infrastructure needs.
He also wants to help the state heal after the scandal-ridden administration of former Governor Eric Greitens, who resigned last month.
"Missouri’s got a need to get in a little bit of a better direction after this first months of this year we went through," Kehoe said. "I love this state and I will do everything to help it."