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Eric Greitens to Face New G.O.P. Attacks in Missouri Senate Race

The leaders of the drive to stop Greitens, led by a coalition of local donors, hope to fundamentally change the dynamics of a race that has been stagnant for months by sounding a boom of accusations about disturbing and erratic behavior by the former governor of Missouri.

But as they try to avoid endangering what is likely a safe Republican Senate seat, they face a tight timeline ahead of the August 2 primary in Missouri, and it’s unclear whether new details about Greitens’ alleged behavior will resonate with GOP voters.

Greitens’ history has long been the subject of investigation – and new allegations have steadily emerged.

In 2018, he resigned as governor amid allegations that he sexually assaulted a hairdresser with whom he had an extramarital affair† Greitens denies the charges, which the woman set out in affidavit during an impeachment inquiry led by fellow Republicans in the state.

His ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, a scholar in Asian geopolitics, left him after those allegations came to light and moved to Texas. The couple are now in a bitter custody battle over their primary school-age children.

In an affidavit released in April, Greitens accused her former husband of a pattern of abuse, including allegedly “cuffing our then 3-year-old son in the face” and “pulling him around by his hair.”

The former governor has denied all wrongdoing and on Thursday his campaign pointed to an earlier statement to The New York Times by Tim Parlatore, a lawyer for the candidate. The alleged abusive behavior “never happened,” Parlatore said.

During a court hearing on Thursday, a lawyer for Sheena Greitens, Helen Wade, said her client had received death threats this week after the former governor released a violent new political video showing him armed with a shotgun storming a house in search of “RINOs,” or only Republicans in name, along with what appears to be a SWAT team carrying guns. military style. Wade did not respond to multiple messages asking for comment on Thursday.

For now, Greitens is about 3.5 percentage points ahead of his closest opponent, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. race show poll averages

Schmitt has the backing of Save Missouri Values, a super PAC funded by Rex Sinquefield, a wealthy retired investor who is a dominant player in state politics

Sinquefield, who is also the main funder of Show Me Values, the new anti-Greitens super PAC, is best known for his dedication to three “idiosyncratic passions,” according to one critical 2014 profile in Politico Magazine: “promote chess, dismantle the traditional public school system, and abolish income taxes.”

So far, the Senate primary campaign has not seen a single television commercial detailing Sheena Greitens’ most recent allegations. One of Show Me Values’ new ads will focus on her allegations, saying Eric Greitens has had “scandal after scandal,” according to two people familiar with its content.

The most effective battle on Greitens with likely Republican primary voters in Missouri, polls conducted by a rival campaign uncovered, may sound a little surprising.

It involved informing them that: he had previously identified as a Democrat and traveled to the Democratic National Convention in 2008 to hear a young progressive senator named Barack Obama accept his party’s nomination for president.

The president’s approval can be decisive – and everyone knows it.

Allies of both Schmitt and Representative Vicky Hartzler, another Senate candidate who closely follows Schmitt in most polls, have warned Trump and his allies not to support Greitens.

An argument that seems to resonate with the former president, according to people who spoke to him: Don’t risk shattering your pristine approval record in the 2022 Senate races.

On Wednesday, after Katie Britt defeated Representative Mo Brooks in a GOP primary runoff for an Alabama Senate seat, Trump boasted that his scorecard remained spot-on in this year’s Senate primaries.

“With Katie Britt’s big ALABAMA win tonight, I’m pleased to announce WE (MAGA!) are 12 WINS & ZERO LOSS in the US Senate primary races this cycle,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, his Twitter like social media site. He made no mention of having previously supported Brooks before toughening up his candidacy.

In Missouri, Trump’s notoriously chaotic decision-making process is complicated by the fact that his son, Donald Trump Jr., and Kimberly Guilfoyle, Don Jr.’s fiancée, support Greitens.

The younger Trump has advised his father to let the primary evolve before endorsing anyone, according to two people familiar with his thinking. A Trump spokesperson said that, to his knowledge, an approval was not “imminent” and that he had not seen any draft announcements.

Greitens’ allies want to link any attempt to attack him to Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who is a frequent target of Trump’s wrath. McConnell’s team did not return calls on Thursday, but there is no evidence that his allies have any connection to the new super PAC.

Republicans in Washington worry that if Greitens manages to win the primaries, he could saddle their party with an embarrassing and expensive candidate who could throw the seat to the Democrats.

Guilfoyle is the national finance chairman of Greitens’ campaign. Despite her help, his campaign struggles to raise money. according to the latest campaign finance reportsforced him to rely almost exclusively on one Republican donor: billionaire shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, who at least $2.5 million into a super PAC that supports Greitens’ candidacy.

Allies argue that Hartzler, a member of parliament from western Missouri, has the best chance of defeating Greitens. They count on the influence of Josh Hawley, the arch-conservative freshman senator who holds the state’s other senate seat.

Her campaign aired this week a new ad promoting the endorsement of Hawley, who has taken advantage of his opposition to the certification of the 2020 election results to earn Trump’s favor and build a national basic donor base

Polls show Hawley to be the state’s most popular politician, and the Hartzler campaign hopes to use its fundraising power and ubiquity on Fox News to move voters into the state’s socially conservative backwoods. Hawley has raised about $400,000 for the campaign in the span of four days, his aides said.

“There are a lot of Republicans running for the Senate,” Hawley said in the ad. “I know them all.”

That’s an understatement: Hawley was the attorney general of Missouri while Greitens was governor, and the two men aren’t exactly friends.

In 2018, Hawley accused Greitens of misusing the donor list of his veterans’ charity and called on him to resign over the allegations regarding the hairdresser

The move helped sideline Greitens, a potential rival for Missouri’s other Senate seat, who hired Hawley after defeating Claire McCaskill, the incumbent Democrat, in 2018.

“Lucky for Josh,” Greitens shot back at the time“he’s better at press conferences than the law.”

  • The Jan. 6 committee revealed on Thursday that White House attorney Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department attorney pushing a Trump-backed plan to undermine the 2020 election results, said he would commit a crime if he helped. undo the outcome. Watch our live coverage of the day’s big hearing here.

  • In a separate development, federal investigators conducted a search of Clark’s home in connection with the Justice Department’s extensive investigation into attempts to nullify the 2020 contest, Alan Feuer, Adam Goldman and Maggie Haberman report.

  • The other big political news of the day: The Supreme Court has struck down New York’s gun law, most likely limiting the ability of state and local governments to restrict guns outdoors. Hours later, the Senate passed a bipartisan gun safety bill in response to a spate of mass shootings.

Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.

— Blake

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