Eric Schmitt wins the GOP Senate primary in Missouri, defeating former Gov. Greitens

Eric Schmitt won the Republican Senate nomination in Missouri, reports NBC News, ending a comeback bid by the state’s disgraced former governor Eric Greitens.

Schmitt, the state’s Attorney General, led Rep. Vicky Hartzler, with Greitens following in third place, according to initial results. He faces the winner of Tuesday’s Democratic primary between Marine veteran Lucas Kunce and Trudy Busch Valentine, a nurse and heiress to the Anheuser-Busch beer fortune. This race is too early to call.

GOP competition drew exceptional attention for a primary in a reliably red state.


A Greitens win likely would have resulted in a more competitive general election to succeed Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican who is not seeking a third term this fall. John Wood, a former investigator on the January 6 Committee of the House of Representatives, launched an independent bid, partly out of concern for a Greitens nomination. Wood, a longtime Republican, has had strong backing from former Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., who is funding a pro-Wood Super PAC.

With control of the 50-50 Senate up for grabs, national GOP groups preferred not to spend money defending a Missouri seat.

Greitens had hoped for a last-minute push from former President Donald Trump, who ruled out supporting Hartzler and vowed on Monday to provide a last-minute endorsement for the race. Trump had praised Greitens in the past, and his eldest son’s partner, Kimberly Guilfoyle, spearheaded Greit’s campaign. But Trump eventually issued a cop-out acknowledgment of “Eric” — meaning Schmitt or Greitens — and said he trusts Missouri voters to “form their own minds.”

Once a rising star in national politics, Greitens resigned as governor in 2018 amid investigations into alleged sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations. Despite admitting to having an extramarital affair with a woman who accused him of taking a nude picture of her without her consent, Greitens has denied the more serious allegations. A charge of invasion of privacy was later dropped. Such was the investigation of his campaign finances.

More recent allegations by his ex-wife that Greitens abused her and their young son – allegations that Greitens has denied – were the topic of a commercial blitz by Show Me Values, an anti-grabbing super PAC that has spent more than $6 million on in-race ads, according to ad-tracking firm AdImpact. Show Me Values ​​was the biggest contributor in the primary, followed by a pro-Schmitt PAC. Greitens only spent $137,000 on advertising, despite the fact that a matched Super PAC provided more than $2 million in air cover.

Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, also drew criticism for a campaign video that showed him in tactical gear and armed with a shotgun “hunting RINO” — a pun on the acronym for “Republicans in Name Only.” Facebook removed the video for violating its policy against incitement to violence. But in the last few weeks the race has essentially been a three-way battle with Schmitt, Hartzler and Greitens.

Schmitt emerged from a field of 21 candidates that also included Rep. Billy Long and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis attorney who earned a speaking seat at the 2020 GOP conference after he was arrested for leading protesters from Black Lives Matter had brandished a gun outside his home.

Schmitt, the state attorney general since 2019, presented himself as a staunch opponent of President Joe Biden and referred to lawsuits his office had filed against the government.

“I wake up, I go to the office, I sue Joe Biden, I go home,” Schmitt likes to say.

Hartzler, supported by the state’s other Republican senator, Josh Hawley, often attempted to make a name for herself by dismissing her leading rivals as two Erics, both equal with outrage.

“This Eric puts guns in his ads, and Eric Schmitt plays with a blowtorch,” Hartzler said in a recent ad. “So I brought my chainsaw. Just kidding.”

The 11-candidate Democratic primary drew less attention while focusing on Kunce and Valentine. Kunce, who enjoyed contrasting his populist message with Valentine’s insider references, was met with enthusiasm national progressive circles and landed a last-minute confirmation Monday from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Ben Kamisar contributed. Eric Schmitt wins the GOP Senate primary in Missouri, defeating former Gov. Greitens

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