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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt defeated scandal-plagued former Gov. Eric Greitens and 19 others in the Republican primary for the US Senate on Tuesday.
Republican leaders have long feared a Greitens victory would jeopardize a Red State Senate seat in the November general election. Greitens resigned four years ago in the midst of a sex scandal, two criminal charges that were ultimately dropped amid a very real risk of impeachment. This year, his ex-wife accused him of abuse.
Republican Senator Roy Blunt’s announcement last year that he would not seek a third term set off a frenzy for his work, with nearly three dozen people in both major parties filing to run. The Democratic race largely a showdown between Marine veteran Lucas Kunce and Anheuser-Busch heiress Trudy Busch Valentine, had not yet been called.
Schmitt defeated a field that also included U.S. Representatives Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, and Mark McCloskey, who gained notoriety in 2020 when he and his wife pointed guns at racial injustice protesters outside their home.
Voter Darrel Durham, a 63-year-old heavy equipment operator from Columbia, said he believes he can bring a new voice to Washington.
“I like all of their positions on the swamp drainage,” Durham said.
Richard Greenup, a 66-year-old computer programmer from Columbia, said he wants “someone who supports Trump” and that he chose Schmitt over Greitens because, “good or bad, Schmitt, I don’t think, has that background.” .”
Greitens, a former Navy SEAL officer and Rhodes Scholar, had been governor for a year when, in January 2018, he confirmed a television report of a 2015 extramarital affair. He was later charged with felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a nude photo of the woman and using it to keep her quiet. that charge was discarded months later amid claims that chief investigator Y local prosecutor mishandled the investigation.
Greitens, 48, says he was the victim of a political coup.
He faced a second charge accusing him of illegally using a donor list from a charity he founded to raise money for his campaign. That was removed when he resigned in June 2018 after the Missouri House of Representatives began an impeachment inquiry.
This year, Greitens’ ex-wife accused him of abuse in an affidavit in a child custody case. She cited a case in which she allegedly slapped her 3-year-old son’s face and pulled his hair. In another, she accused him of pushing her to the ground.
Eric Greitens denied the allegations, accusing his ex-wife of colluding with Republican stalwarts like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to sabotage his campaign. Sheena Greitens said that she didn’t work with anyone.
Greitens also drew criticism for a June campaign video that showed him brandishing a shotgun and declaring he was hunting RINOs, or Republicans in name only.
Schmitt, 47, has drawn attention for lawsuits that critics say are politically motivated. He sued China over the coronavirus; school districts on mask mandates; and the city of St. Louis for its plan to provide $1 million for women to travel out of state for abortions.
On Monday, Trump voiced his support for “ERIC,” which presumably means either Schmitt or Greitens, without choosing between them. There was a third Eric in the Republican primary, comedian and Navy veteran Eric McElroy.
“I trust the Great People of Missouri, in this case, to make their own decisions, just as they did when they gave me landslide victories in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and therefore I am proud to announce that ERIC has my full and full Full support!” Trump wrote.
Committees backing Greitens and Schmitt quickly issued phone calls claiming Trump’s backing.
Kunce, 39, received his own big endorsement on Monday, from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Kunce served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a Senate candidate John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, Kunce is a populist hoping to win back rural voters. He wants to ban stock ownership for members of Congress, break up corporate monopolies and end foreign ownership of farmland.
Valentine, 65, is the daughter of August “Gussie” Busch Jr., the longtime chairman and CEO of Anheuser-Busch, who built the St. Louis-based company into the world’s largest brewer. . The brewery was sold to InBev in 2008. Valentine said she entered the race after witnessing the “division in our country and the vitriol in our politics.”
Schmitt and the Democratic winner could face an independent candidate with significant financial support. john wood, The 52-year-old, lifelong Republican, former federal prosecutor, and most recently lead investigator for the US House committee examining the January 6, 2021 insurrection, is endorsed by a political action committee led by former Republican Senator John Danforth.
Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri. Associated Press writer David A. Lieb contributed from Jefferson City, Missouri.