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The Associated Press is predicting that Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt has won the Missouri Republican Senate primary in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.
Schmitt was one of the frontrunners in the race, along with former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who represents Missouri’s 4th Congressional District in the largely rural west-central part of the state.
More than 20 Missouri Republicans vied for the party’s Senate nomination this cycle. The field included Rep. Billy Long in the state’s 7th Congressional District in southwest Missouri and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis attorney who, along with his wife, grabbed national headlines in the summer of 2020 for keeping guns outside their home to fend off Black Lives Matter protesters.
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Schmidt, who won two statewide elections in Missouri — for treasurer and later for attorney general — has made headlines over the past year and a half by filing multiple lawsuits against President Biden’s administration. It has been at the top of the latest research in the race.
Greitens, a former U.S. Marine who left office in 2018 amid much controversy, was once the clear front-runner in the primary race but for months has been dealing with allegations by his ex-wife that he abused her and their child. Greitens denies the allegations.
There is a long list of Republicans who fear that Greitens’ political baggage would jeopardize what should be a relatively safe GOP seat in November. An anti-Greitens super PAC spent more than $6 million this summer to run ads targeting the former governor.
Former President Donald Trump remained neutral in the high-profile and combative race until Monday night, on the eve of the Missouri primary.
TRUMP REFUSES TO TAKE PART, ENDORSE ‘ERIK’ IN MISSOURI SENATE PRIMARY
After teasing hours earlier that he would endorse the race, Trump refused to choose between Greitens and Schmidt.
Instead, Trump threw his support behind both as he endorsed “ERIC.”
The winner of Tuesday’s GOP primary will likely face off in November with either Trudy Busch Valentine, a philanthropist and heir to a beer family, or Lucas Kunce, a former U.S. Marine running an aggressive populist campaign who received the support of progressive champion Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday. The two candidates are the frontrunners in the polls in a crowded field of 11 Democratic contenders.
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Missouri was once a competitive state, but in recent decades has been Republican. The winner of the GOP Senate primary will be considered the favorite in the November general election.
Former President Clinton in 1996 was the last Democrat to win the state in the race for the White House and then a senator. Claire McCaskill’s 2012 victory was the last time a Democrat won a state Senate election. Trump won the state by 18 points in the 2016 presidential election and by 16 points in his 2020 re-election bid.