Eric Greitens has bet he can overcome his past as a disgraced former governor – previously accused by mistresses of sexually assaulting and physically abusing his wife’s son – and win a political comeback by carrying out a campaign to burn the US Senate.
On Tuesday night, that bet was due as Republican voters in Missouri went to the polls. They gave Greitens a decisive answer: No.
When the main race called for victory for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Greitens was in a distant third place among Senate hopefuls.
The outburst of this former rising GOP star will breathe a sigh of relief from Missouri to Washington, D.C. Many Republicans believe Greitens’ pile of baggage makes him toxic to the broad electorate more — and is the only GOP candidate who can squander a party safe seat.
Instead, Schmitt’s victory in the primaries means Republicans can take a breather. Although Democrats want to compete in Missouri regardless of the GOP candidate, Schmitt is the favorite to continue to give up Senator Roy Blunt’s seat in the GOP’s hands.
When he was asked in March to respond to new allegations against Greitens that surfaced during the campaign, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) never explicitly appealed to him. out of the race. But McConnell strongly proposed his belief that Missouri voters would reject his candidacy.
Indeed, powerful GOP interests have worked hard to ensure that happens. Influential Republican donors and power brokers have spent a lot trying to bring Greitens down, with an anti-Greitens super PAC raising $8 million during the primary. .
But Greitens never completely alienated himself in Trump’s orbit, adding a dimension of intrigue to a primary goal that eventually turned into a proxy war between different Republican factions. Trump’s son, Don Jr., and his fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle are arguably among the most prominent Republican players promoting Greitens.
Meanwhile, Schmitt has touted the endorsements of a number of Trumpworld celebrities, from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to former Trump press secretary and current favorite Arkansas director Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Second place Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), the only candidate rejected by Trump first, was supported by Missouri Senator Josh Hawley.
Although Greitens has courted the GOP’s far-right base with deliberately provocative ads — including one he released that showed himself “hunting RINO” with assault weapons in a series of mass shootings. true mass gun — apparently only a clear endorsement of Trump can put Greitens at the forefront of the mainstream.
But Trump has denied his endorsement for the entire campaign. In a strangely fitting ending, on Monday night, Trump released a statement saying he confirmed “ERIC”. He didn’t say which one. Both Greitens and Schmitt fell back when they claimed that they were, in fact, the Eric Trump wanted to endorse.
The endorsement isn’t quite enough, obviously, and so Greitens’ defeat on Tuesday could put a clear end to a political career that has unraveled spectacularly.
But his long, MAGA-tinged campaign for the Senate could leave a lasting mark. For example, Greitens often opposed McConnell on the campaign trail, saying he would never support him as Senate GOP leader.
Just days before the primaries, Schmitt finally weighed in on that question – and pledged not to support McConnell if elected.