(JTA) — Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL whose military awards include the Bronze Star, has become the first Jewish governor of Missouri.
Greitens, a Republican, defeated Democrat Chris Koster with 51 percent of the vote on Tuesday to 45 percent for the state’s attorney general.
“Tonight, we did more than win an election; we restored power to the people and we took our state back!” Greitens told supporters at a hotel in Chesterfield, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Greitens, 42, grew up in the Maryland Heights suburb of St. Louis and attended the town’s Reform synagogue. He attended Duke University, where he become a Rhodes scholar.
After earning a degree at the University of Oxford, he joined the Navy SEALS and won seven military awards, including the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He later launched The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that offers veterans volunteer opportunities.
The Post-Dispatch reported that Greitens is likely to make Missouri a “right-to-work” state by decreasing the power of its unions. A key tenet of his campaign was promising to “clean up” corruption and “bad ethics” in Jefferson City, the state’s capital.