With independent “super PACs” dominating the airwaves, Donald Trump ruling out supporting one candidate while not endorsing another, and an independent Republican jumping into the general election, the August 2 Republican primary to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri is at best unpredictable.
A just-completed Trafalgar Poll (not connected to any candidate) showed a virtual tie among the “Big Three” Republican hopefuls: Rep. Vicky Hartzler 24.0 percent, former Gov. Eric Greitens 23.5 percent, and State Attorney General Eric Schmitt 22.8 percent.
(Farther back in the field were Rep. Billy Long 5.9 percent, State Senate President Dave Schatz 4.2 percent percent, and St. Louis trial lawyer Mark McCloskey 3.0 percent).
Rated 89 percent by the American Conservative Union (and thus the most conservative Member of Congress from the Show Me State), six-termer Hartzler has also voted Donald Trump’s position 95 percent of the time.
But the former president announced last week he would not endorse Hartzler because, as he put it on his Truth Social app, “I don’t think she has what it takes to take on the Radical Left Democrats, together with their partner in the destruction of our Country, the Fake News Media and, of course, the deceptive and foolish RINOs [Republicans In Name Only].”
A source close to the congresswoman told us that a letter she wrote to a constituent in which she criticized the January 6 march on the Capitol by Trump supporters was probably the reason for Trump’s “unendorsement.”
At this point, Trump watchers in Missouri expect he will endorse Schmitt or personal friend Long, or remain neutral in the contest.
Onetime front-runner Greitens has had a bad two weeks. A $6-10 million independent media salvo orchestrated by one-time Trump White House personnel chief and Missouri native Johnny DeStefano has illustrated all of the reasons that keep Greitens a well-known figure two years after he left the governorship: an admitted extramarital affair with a hairstylist, misuse of the mailing list of a veterans’ group he founded for political purposes, and his background as an Obama Democrat before he decided to run for governor as a Republican in 2016.
Greitens has also come under fire from National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott as well as many newspapers for his on-line commercials condemning RINOs and calling on viewers to “get a RINO hunting permit” while storming a house with a rifle.
The former governor insists the ad is in good fun and will not pull it down.
Billionaire shipping magnate and major GOP donor Dick Uihlein, who has personally funded a pro-Greitens super PAC to the tune of $2.5 million, has reportedly told friends he will not donate any more to the Greitens' cause.
As Republicans fight it out in their primary, former U.S. Attorney John Wood recently announced he would run for the seat as an independent. A one-time clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and until recently counsel to the January 6 Commission, Wood has the backing of still-respected former Sen. John Danforth, R.-Mo. Danforth has said he raised more than $5 million for an independent super PAC to support someone other than the Republican nominee and likely Democratic candidate and beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine.
Privately, Republicans fear whoever wins their primary will go into the fall campaign wounded and losing votes to renegade hopeful Wood.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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