ST. LOUIS – Eric Schmitt won the Missouri Republican primary in the race to replace retiring Senator Roy Blunt. The Associated Press has called the race.
In March 2021, Sen. Blunt announced he would not seek re-election. He ultimately declined to endorse any candidate.
Schmitt won 45% of the primary vote. Vicky Hartzler finished second, with 22% of the vote, while Eric Greitens got 19%, good enough for third place as 100% of precincts have reported in the race.
In the final week of the primary campaign, Schmitt, Hartzler, and Greitens distanced themselves from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, with all three calling for McConnell’s ouster. Hartzler had at one point mentioned replacing McConnell with Hawley, who endorsed Hartzler in February.
Hartzler also received endorsements from senators Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Roger Marshall of Kansas. Greitens received endorsements from former President Donald Trump and members of his administration: National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (retired), Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, and advisor Rudy Giuliani. Schmitt was endorsed by senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, as well as Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
A poll from FOX 2, The Hill, and Emerson College showed a huge change in the Republican primary, with Greitens losing his spot atop the pack behind Schmitt and Hartzler.
Schmitt described himself as “a tireless fighter for the people” in a sit-down interview with FOX 2 and claims the American dream itself is on the line with this election, that there are significant pressing matters facing the nation, and the U.S. Senate will be the place where the biggest fights are going to occur. The state AG said he supports energy independence and fair elections and that he would push back against government overreach, citing his legal fights against mask mandates in schools. At present, Schmitt is suing the City of St. Louis for allocating federal relief funds to support abortion access.
Hartzler was the only woman running in the Republican primary. She was the most experienced candidate in the field. Hartzler served as a Missouri state representative from January 1995 to January 2001. After nearly a decade away from politics, Hartzler defeated longtime Democrat incumbent Ike Skelton in November 2010 to represent Missouri’s 4th congressional district.
Her platform focused on social issues, like opposing abortion and the inclusion of trans athletes in sports. In interviews with FOX 2, Hartzler said America was in crisis and needs someone with her values to “save our country and pull it back from the brink.” She blamed illegal immigrants and the country’s border policies for the “record amounts of drugs flowing into our communities.”
Greitens, who left the governor’s office in 2018 over accusations of blackmail, bondage, and sexual assault, was attempting a political comeback. He faces new allegations of abuse and mistreatment from his ex-wife.
The former Navy SEAL told FOX 2 he’s been beset on all sides from Black Lives Matter protesters, to Antifa, the Satanic Temple, members of his own party, and the news media. Greitens drew widespread condemnation in June for a campaign ad in which he declared he was hunting RINOs (Republicans In Name Only).
The winner of the Republican primary is in the catbird seat for the general election in November. Political analysis sites FiveThirtyEight, The Cook Political Report, and Inside Elections all classify the Missouri Senate race as “Solid Republican,” while Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball identifies Missouri as having a “Likely Republican” outcome. In addition, Trump won Missouri by 19 and 15 percentage points in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, respectively.
Blunt had been in Congress since 1997 and was elected to the Senate in 2010. His Senate tenure will come to an end in January 2023. He previously served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and as Missouri Secretary of State.