Mo. Gov. Nixon ubiquitous as disaster commander

By DAVID A. LIEB | June 19, 2011 | 1:44 PM EDT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has been a ubiquitous figure as tornadoes and flooding racked his state over the past two months.

He's been on the ground quickly to survey damage and assure residents of forthcoming aid. He's intervened when local response efforts bogged down. And he's returned frequently to disaster scenes — especially to the tornado-struck city of Joplin — to guide the state's response.

Nixon's actions illustrate the high-stakes situation that disasters pose for chief executives. Democratic Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco chose not to seek re-election after criticism for her response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. By contrast, Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was generally regarded as in control following the hurricane. He easily won re-election.

Nixon has delayed several fundraisers for his 2012 re-election to focus on disasters.