Missouri state Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced he’s running for Senate Wednesday, setting up a clash with former Gov. Eric Greitens as Republicans fight to hold the seat next year.
Schmitt is the second Republican to enter the race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt, who said earlier this month he would not seek a third term.
Some Republicans fear Greitens winning the nomination would put the otherwise safe seat in jeopardy in the fall, complicating their path to winning back the Senate majority. Greitens resigned as governor in 2018 after allegations that he sexually assaulted and blackmailed a woman, which he denied, and after making a deal with the St. Louis prosecutor’s office that it would drop unrelated charges that he’d used a veterans charity he’d created to fundraise for his gubernatorial campaign, an alleged violation of campaign finance laws.
Greitens launched his bid on Fox News last week, promising to be a “fighter” for the state and ally of former President Donald Trump.
Schmitt was elected state treasurer in 2016, appointed as attorney general when Josh Hawley was elected to the Senate, and won his election by more than 20 points last year.
“Now more than ever Missourians need a conservative leader willing and able to take on the left, protect our values and be a voice for all Missourians,” Schmitt said in a statement. “We also need a leader who can hold this Senate seat in firm Republican hands without giving Democrats any chance to take this seat back.”
His statement pointed out that Republicans won the last two Senate races in Missouri in competitive contests, despite the state’s conservative tilt. Blunt won by just 3 percentage points in 2016, and Hawley defeated then-Sen. Claire McCaskill by 6 percentage points in 2018. He also pitched himself as a pro-Trump Republican.
“Missourians know from my public service that they can count on me to stand up to the Biden administration, fight to preserve President Trump’s America First agenda and keep this seat in safe pro-Trump Republican hands,” Schmitt said.
Several other Republicans are eyeing the seat, including state Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, and Reps. Vicky Hartzler, Jason Smith, Ann Wagner and Billy Long. A crowded and split field could benefit Greitens, lowering the threshold of support he would need to successfully navigate the primary.
Two state officials, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, said they will not run.
Several Democrats are running, including former state Sen. Scott Sifton, Marine veteran Lucas Kunce and activist Tim Shepard.
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