The Associated Press projects that Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has won Missouri’s Republican Senate primary in the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt.
Schmitt was one of the front-runners in the race, along with former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who represents Missouri’s 4th Congressional District in the predominantly rural west-central part of the state.
Over 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 during the summer of 2020 for holding guns outside their home to ward off Black Lives Matter protesters.
Schmitt, who has won two statewide elections in Missouri — for treasurer and later for attorney general — has made headlines over the past year and a half, filing numerous lawsuits against President Biden’s administration. He has topped the latest surveys in the race.
Greitens, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who left office in 2018 amid multiple controversies, was once the clear front-runner in the primary race, but for months has been fighting allegations from his ex-wife that he abused her and their child. Greitens denies the claims.
There is a long list of Republicans who fear that Greitens’ political baggage would put what should be a relatively safe GOP seat in jeopardy come November. An anti-Greitens super PAC has 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 Missouri’s primary.
After teasing hours earlier that he would be making an endorsement in the race, Trump declined to choose between Greitens and Schmitt.
Instead, Trump gave his support to both of them, as he endorsed “ERIC.”
The winner of Tuesday’s GOP primary will likely face off in November against either Trudy Busch Valentine, a philanthropist and beer family heiress, or Lucas Kunce, a former U.S. Marine who is running an aggressive populist-style campaign who landed the endorsement of progressive champion Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday. The two candidates are the polling front-runners in a crowded field of 11 Democratic contenders.
Missouri was once a competitive state but has trended Republican in recent decades. The winner of the GOP Senate primary will be considered the favorite in November’s general election.
Former President Clinton in 1996 was the last Democrat to win the state in the race for the White House, and then-Sen. Claire McCaskill’s 2012 victory was the last time a Democrat won a Senate election in the state. Trump won the state by 18 points in his 2016 presidential election victory and by 16 points in his 2020 re-election defeat.
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