Democratic hopes of picking up a U.S. Senate seat in deep-red Missouri faltered Tuesday after Republican voters selected Attorney General Eric Schmitt as their nominee over former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in disgrace in 2018.
Missouri is not the swing state it once was. But Democrats has reason for optimism this year.
Greitens, who led in early public opinion polls, would be toxic in a general election, they predicted Democrats also landed a strong recruit in beer heir Trudy Busch Valentine, who won her primary Tuesday. And the state’s Republican establishment prepared to put millions of dollars behind an independent candidate in the general election, potentially fracturing the GOP vote.
But Greitens came on short Tuesday, finishing in a distant third behind Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, likely scuttling those dreams. His campaign’s tailspin can be traced back to March, when his ex-wife submitted a bombshell legal filing in the former couple’s child custody case.
Sheena Greitens said in a sworn statement that Eric Greitens had abused her and one of their young sons. She also said he displayed such “unstable and coercive behavior” in the lead-up to his 2018 resignation that others took steps to limit his access to firearms.
At the time, Greitens faced potential impeachment after his former hairdresser testified that he blindfolded and restrained her in his basement, assaulted her and appeared to take a compromising photo to pressure her to keep quiet about an affair.
He resigned from office – and avoided testifying under oath about the affair.
But after he was cleared in an ethics investigation, Greitens launched his comeback campaign for Senate last year, marketing himself as an unabashedly pro-Trump conservative. And while many in Missouri wrote him off, one important political figure didn’t: Donald Trump, who mused publicly about Greitens’ attributes.
But in the end, Trump stopped short of issuing an endorsement, instead issuing a vague statement this week throwing his support behind “ERIC.”
And on Tuesday, the other “ERIC” in the race – Schmitt – won.
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