On Thursday, for the first time this year, Democratic incumbent Jay Nixon's campaign went on the attack with a television ad targeting their Republican opponent, Dave Spence.
The 30-second spot is critical for Spence, a St. Louis businessman who served on the board of Reliance Bancshares, for his involvement in the bank's dealings with the 2008 Troubled Assets Relief Program, also known as the bank bailout.
"Dave Spence's bank took $40 million of bailout money and they still won't pay us back," the ad said. "Now Spence is spending millions of dollars to run for governor. Don't you think Dave Spence's bank should pay us back before he runs for office?"
For much of the time since Spence entered the race last December, Nixon has shied away from even publicly acknowledging Spence. Many of the attacks on Spence - often focused on the bailout issue - have come under the Missouri Democratic Party's letterhead, not the Nixon campaign's.
Spence has often denounced the criticism, claiming that his opponents have ignored the extent to which he tried to revive the bank before resigning from its board in March 2011.
Spence served on the bank's board in February 2009 when it received a $40 million loan from the Treasury Department. After nearly two years of trying to turn the bank around, the board was unsuccessful, and Spence, along with other members of the board, voted to not repay the federal government for the loan.
Earlier in the week, Spence launched his first ad since the Republican primary ended in which he was critical of Nixon for the state's use of funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus.
"Jay Nixon pushed Obama's failed stimulus on Missouri, even after admitting our kids would bear the burden of the debt," the narrator said, followed immediately by a clip of Nixon saying, "If there's debt, Missouri kids and grandkids will pay that debt off."
The two ads began airing statewide this week.