"It's tough trying to lead in this environment," said former Democratic Gov. Bob Holden, who lost re-election in 2004. "Jay's had to walk a very difficult line between the liberals on one hand and the conservatives on the other, and still trying to do what's best for the state of Missouri."
Nixon, 56, easily turned back a challenge from Republican businessman Dave Spence of St. Louis in November's election. He is just the fourth Missouri governor to win two consecutive terms — a feat that was not possible under the state constitution until about 45 years ago.
A native of rural De Soto in eastern Missouri, Nixon has a long career in Missouri politics. He worked briefly as an attorney in his home county before winning an open state Senate seat in 1986. He won election as attorney general in 1992, and served there for a record 16 years before becoming governor in 2009.
His inaugural celebration, which began Sunday with a dinner for supporters, is projected to cost $180,000, with Nixon's campaign committee covering $150,000 and about $30,000 coming from state funds.
The governor, first lady Georganne Nixon and their family started Monday with a special church service. They later joined other elected officials in a short parade that wound past the Governor's Mansion to the Capitol. The Nixons rode in the bed of a red Ford F-150 truck, a model made in Missouri at an assembly plant that is receiving tax incentives from Nixon's administration.
Attendance at the parade was sparse, and many of the 3,840 chairs set up for the outdoor inauguration remained empty, likely attributable to temperatures in the low 20s. Before the ceremony began, members of Nixon's administration had to clear frost and ice off the folding chairs. During Nixon's speech, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder sat with a blanket over his legs, and some chilled audience members left before the event concluded with music and a benediction.
Nixon and other state officials were seated on a raised platform heated from beneath their feet.
The oaths of office were first administered to Missouri's other executive officials elected this past November — Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster; Democratic Treasurer Clint Zweifel; Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander; and Kinder, a Republican starting his third term as the No. 2 executive. Only Kander is new to his position.
The day's festivities also included a public reception at the Governor's Mansion and free barbecue at a nearby hotel.
Associated Press writers Chris Blank and Jordan Shapiro contributed to this report. Follow David A. Lieb at: http://twitter.com/DavidALieb