Eric Greitens, the former Missouri governor accused of sexual assault and domestic abuse, lost his bid for the GOP Senate nomination Tuesday to state Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
Schmitt’s win was a relief for many Republicans in the state, who worried that Greitens’ baggage could cost the party the Senate seat in November.
Donald Trump received intense lobbying from his allies to endorse both Greitens and Schmitt, with Kimberly Guilfoyle ― Donald Trump, Jr.’s girlfriend ― working for Greitens, and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) pushing for Schmitt.
Unwilling to take a side, Trump issued his long-awaited endorsement Monday, where he endorsed “Eric” but declined to say which one. Both Schmitt and Greitens claimed the former president’s backing.
Schmitt’s victory marks the end of a twisting and turning race that also saw two House members ― Vicky Hartzler, who appeared on track to finish second, and Billy Long ― run, and that some Republicans feared would leave them with a weak general election candidate if Greitens had won.
Greitens resigned as governor in 2018 after he confirmed he had an extramarital affair and after allegations of sexual misconduct. Greitens was accused by the woman with whom he had had the affair of coercing her into oral sex, touching her without consent and threatening to release a nude picture of her if she revealed the affair. He was also accused of improper fundraising.
But Schmitt had overtaken him in several polls in mid-July through early August, including in a Trafalgar Group poll that showed him with an almost 13-point lead.
With the Senate split 50-50, Republicans see this fall as an ideal opportunity to win control of the chamber and want to avoid a repeat of past election cycles where flawed candidates cost them that chance.
The Missouri Senate race is classified as “solid” Republican by the Cook Political Report, meaning Schmitt is favored to replace the retiring Republican Roy Blunt. He will face Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, a former nurse who is the heiress to the Anheuser-Busch fortune, in November.