By SUMMER BALLENTINE, associated Press
Colombo, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt announced on Wednesday that he was making a bid in the Senate to replace Roy Blunt, who is setting up a Republican primary against disgruntled former government Eric Greitens.
Schmidt is a strong contender with a record of winning statewide elections and is supported by Missouri mega-donor Rex Sinkfield. In a written release, Shamit pushed his conservative credibility and went to jail against the “radical left”.
Blunt’s March 8 decision not to run for another term opened up a flood situation for aspiring Republicans who were interested in making him successful. But the GOP sector is narrowing. Former favorite secretary of state J. Ashcroft bowed, as did Lieutenant Government Mike Kehoe.
Political scientists have speculated that Republicans are trying to unite around a single candidate to avoid a potentially damaging primary. Greitens’ candidacy is complicated.
The Greitens, who have been grounding a comeback for months, if not years, have a polarizing figure with the state’s Republican establishment.
The former Navy SEAL officer was once seen as a rising star in Republican politics, possibly even as a future presidential candidate.
Those aspirations vanished in 2018 when her extramarital affair was exposed. A felony charge alleged that he potentially blackmailed the woman if she spoke of their encounters.
Greitens then faced a second criminal charge accusing him of using the donor list with his charity for his political campaign.
Greetens, now divorced but married at the time, admitted to the affair but denied wrongdoing in both cases. Nevertheless, he resigned in June 2018 and criminal cases were dismissed.
He holds a core of support that may be enough to win a primary, but political observers have said that scandals that forced him out of the governor’s mansion thwarted the prospect of a Republican on the U.S. Senate seat.
In his announcement, Schmitt pointed to the danger of Republicans losing the Senate seat if the Greitens won the GOP nomination, stating that Missouri needed a leader who would allow Democrats to take this seat without giving it any chance. The Senate could hold the seat firmly.
“In my public service, I never gave up on the fight for Missouri and our conservative values,” Schmidt said. “Missourians are lifelong conservatives who know they will never stop fighting for them.”
Voters first elected Schmidt to represent the suburban St. Louis district in the state Senate in 2008. He was elected state treasurer in 2016, then Josh Hawley took over as state attorney general after vacating the seat to join the US Senate in 2019.
He won another term as Attorney General in 2020.
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