Eric Schmidt, Missouri’s attorney general, easily won the Republican nomination for an open Senate seat on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. His decisive victory derailed the political comeback of former Gov. Eric Greitens, whose campaign was marred by allegations of domestic abuse, infidelity and corruption.
Mr. Schmitt, a former state senator and treasurer, made a swing to the hard right to fend off his top rivals, Mr. Greitens and Representative Vicky Hartzler, a longtime social conservative who was in second place as the votes were counted on Tuesday night, with Mr. Greitens trailing behind.
Mr. Schmitt had the support of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas – whom he quoted in several Fox News appearances – and a semi-endorsement from former President Donald J. Trump, who, unable to make up his mind, endorsed the ” Eric” on Monday without specifying which one.
His victory was a relief to Republicans in Missouri and Washington, who worried that Mr. Greitens’ nomination, four years after he resigned as governor to avoid impeachment, would jeopardize a seat they had hoped to hold. easily pass retired Senator Roy. Blunt to a Republican successor. Once a swing state, Missouri has gone reliably red over the past decade.
If Mr. Greitens had won, Democrats planned to attack him on a record that included allegations by his ex-wife that he physically abused her and one of their young sons, as well as allegations of sexual abuse by a hairdresser who said he had lured her to his home, tied her up, ripped off her clothes, photographed her partially naked, threatened to release the photos if she spoke and forced her to perform oral sex.
“I hope and pray that it’s God’s will that Eric Greitens doesn’t get the nomination, but if Eric Greitens wins the nomination, we’re going to lose a Senate seat to the Democrats,” St. Louis Mayor Renee Artman. The county’s Republican Central Committee said days before the election. He had pleaded with Missouri Republican officials to oppose Mr. Greitens more forcefully.
A Missouri super PAC funded by wealthy in-state and out-of-state donors attacked Mr. Greitens in the ad that used his ex-wife’s allegations as footage of a trip he made as a governor to Chinain which he appeared to speak positively of the country.
Mr. Greitens said the allegations against him were false and orchestrated by Washington Republicans such as Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s White House chief of staff. Running a campaign filled with violent imagery, Mr. Greitens ran ads featuring military-style attacks on “RINOs” — Republicans in Name Only — and shots of himself, a former Navy SEAL, firing high-powered weapons.
In the end, Mr. Schmitt benefited from an extremely fractured field of Republicans, 21 in all. It included Rep. Billy Long, who claimed to be the true voice of Mr. Trump, and Mark McCloskey, a personal injury lawyer who made headlines when he and his wife pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in front of the house of the couple in St. Louis. .
Ms Hartzler was endorsed by Missouri’s junior senator, Josh Hawley, but was rebuffed by Mr Trump, who told supporters on his social media site: “I don’t think she has what it takes to take on Radical Left Democrats”. Mr. Trump called Mr. Greitens “tough” and “smart” in an interview with the pro-Trump network One America News, and his son Donald Trump Jr. fired automatic rifles with Mr. Greitens at a shooting range and he said to the camera that they “struck fear into the hearts of liberals everywhere.”
With Ms. Hartzler fired by the former president and Mr. Greitens under concerted attack by wealthy Republicans, Mr. Schmidt was able to prevail.