There's going to be a Republican in the Missouri governor's seat.
At 10:36 p.m., Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster conceded the governor's race to Eric Greitens, meaning that the Democrat-turned Republican in the race beat the Republican-turned-Democrat — and that a political neophyte will take over as the state's governor in 2017.
Greitens, 42, was running far ahead from Koster, 52, in early returns. The former Navy SEAL ran as outsider capable of blowing up "politics as usual"
— triggering an STL Up Late parody that showed just what he was shooting at
. He has never previously run for elected office.
And in beating Koster, he not only flipped a seat previously held by Democrats, but took down a formidable, moderate opponent with statewide appeal.
Koster was elected to the Missouri Senate as a Republican in 2004 before switching his party affiliation three years later and being elected the state's attorney general as a Democrat. The St. Louis native was endorsed by the NRA and had pledged to govern as a fiscal conservative.
Greitens is also a St. Louis native — and also fond of guns. (The St. Louis native was shown in primary commercials firing a semi-automatic rifle.) The first-time candidate confessed that he was raised as a Democrat, originally registered as a Democrat, and was even approached as a possible Democratic candidate
. But he ran as a conservative, taking down more experienced rivals in the primary and now Koster tonight.
"We did it. We did it," Greitens told a packed room in Chesterfield at 10:40 p.m.
"I intend to serve as a servant leader who serves all of you," he said later in his address.
Koster may have been hurt by ads tying him to Hillary Clinton. Clinton did not compete in the state, and early returns showed Donald Trump winning handily.
The Republican Governors Association, which spent $13.5 million to support Greitens' bid, issued this statement from chairwoman Susana Martinez: “A conservative outsider, Eric Greitens won this election because of his commitment to changing the status quo in Missouri, which resonated loudly with voters. As governor, Eric will restore trust in state government, fight for the middle class, rein in government spending and grow Missouri’s economy.”
It's been a good night for the GOP in Missouri, which also appears to be cruising to victory in the attorney general's race, the secretary of state's race and others.
Further election results are expected within the coming hours. We'll update this story once we have full vote totals.