Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt easily triumphed over the state’s disgraced former governor, Eric Greitens, and a collection of other challengers Wednesday, winning the Republican Party’s nomination for U.S. senator and closing another dark chapter in Greitens’ political career.
Trump had made a trolling non-endorsement in the race, announcing his support Monday for “Eric” without making clear whether he meant Greitens or Schmitt.
When the Associated Press called the race just after 10 p.m. ET, Schmitt led the field with 45 percent of the vote. Greitens, in third, had 19 percent; second-place finisher Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) had 23 percent. An estimated 41 percent of votes had been tallied.
Also among the two Erics’ 19 opponents for the Senate nomination was the lawyer Mark McCloskey, who infamously menaced Black Lives Matter protesters with a rifle.
Schmitt served as Missouri’s treasurer before becoming state attorney general. In the past year, Schmitt has waged a series of lawsuits against the Biden administration over issues ranging from COVID vaccine mandates to LGBTQ school guidance.
Greitens resigned as Missouri’s governor in 2018, following allegations of blackmail and an alleged assault. His hairdresser, with whom he had been having an affair, said that he had slapped her, coerced her into a sexual encounter and tried to blackmail her with nude photos, TPM reported. Greitens acknowledged having an extramarital affair but denied the allegations of assault and blackmail.
After the woman testified before the state legislative investigative committee detailing the sexual assault, Greitens resigned. He reached a deal with the St. Louis prosecutor’s office, saying that he would step down if the office dropped unrelated campaign finance charges against him.
In March of this year, his ex-wife alleged domestic violence in court records. Sheena Greitens detailed allegations of physical abuse by her ex-husband, including what she described as “unstable and coercive behavior” that allegedly took place toward the end of their marriage, in a sworn affidavit filed as part of an ongoing child custody dispute in Missouri state court. She alleged that his violent behavior extended to their children as well. Greitens denied the claims, which he sought to cast as politically motivated.
Greitens had been considered a frontrunner in the race to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) until the allegations emerged.
Greitens’ campaign has been incendiary from the beginning. In June, he released a campaign ad advertising a “hunting permit” for his political opponents — so-called “RINOs,” or “Republicans in Name Only.” The ad opens with Greitens holding a shotgun and strolling past a mailbox labeled “The RINO’s Den.” Greitens’ ad prompted Missouri state Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden (R) to report him to law enforcement.