Former President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he is endorsing “ERIC” in the Missouri Republican Senate primary.
The only problem is that two of the leading candidates to secure the nomination are named Eric. Eric Schmitt, the state’s attorney general, and Eric Greitens, the state’s disgraced former governor in a dead heat with Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), whom the former president had already said he would not endorse.
“I trust the Great People of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds, much as they did when they gave me landslide victories in the 2016 and 2020 Elections,” Trump wrote.
Greitens was quick to claim the “ERIC” in question was him. “Honored to have the support of President Trump!” he tweeted shortly after the announcement. “We will MAGA!”
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Trump’s endorsement would be a welcome boost for the former Missouri governor whose scandal-ridden background is making even the normally accommodating GOP recoil. In March, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called for Greitens to end his campaign, suggesting he belongs “in handcuffs.”
The last-minute nature of the non-endorsement, which comes a day before Tuesday’s primary, could be due to a field bereft of viable candidates — even by Trump’s standards. Greitens is the most despicable among them. He resigned as Missouri governor in 2018 after graphic allegations that he had beaten, blackmailed, sexually assaulted, and held a woman against her will during an affair. An investigation by a Missouri House special committee found that Greitens’ claims that the woman had fabricated the allegations in an attempt to damage him politically were unfounded, and that the woman was “an overall credible witness.”
Greitens’ ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, who divorced him following the allegations against him, alleged earlier this year in testimony related to a custody dispute that Greitins also beat his children. She described a pattern of “unstable and coercive behavior” from her ex-husband, including instances where Greitens seized her “phone, wallet, and keys,” as well as an episode when her son returned from a visit with his father with “a swollen face, bleeding gums, and a loose tooth.” Sheena said the boy told her that his father hit him. She also alleged Eric had “repeatedly threatened to kill himself unless [she] provided specific public political support to him.”
The allegations of misconduct are not confined to his personal life. In 2018, St. Louis prosecutors filed criminal charges against Greitens regarding improper use of a veterans’ charity list in order to fundraise for his gubernatorial campaign. Greitens allegedly tampered with a computer to unlawfully obtain the list of donors, which was later used to fundraise on behalf of his campaign.
His 2022 Senate campaign has already invited controversy. In June, Greitens released a campaign ad in which he overly fantasized about executing Republicans who were not loyal enough to the “MAGA crew.” The ad features Greitens and an armed militia breaking into a house. “Get a RINO-hunting permit,” Greitens says. “There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”
Schmitt may not have as rich of a history of scandals as Greitens, but he’d still be a terror in the Senate. He’s pushed the conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump, and as Missouri’s attorney general has tried to crack down on schools implementing measures to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, tried to get the Affordable Care Act dismantled, and more. Schmitt, too, claimed Trump’s endorsement on Monday was meant for him.
“It is truly an honor to have President Trump’s endorsement in the Senate race,” he wrote.
The race between Greitens, Schmitt, and Hartzler is a tight one. If Trump’s non-endorsement does somehow buoys Greitens or Schmitt to victory on Tuesday, they will be expected to win the general election in the red state.
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