Twenty-one candidates are running in the Republican Party primary for U.S. Senate in Missouri on August 2, 2022. Eric Greitens, Vicky Hartzler, and Eric Schmitt have led in media attention, endorsements, and polling.
Incumbent Roy Blunt (R), who was first elected in 2010, announced on March 8, 2021, that he would not seek election to a third term in 2022.
The Missouri Independent‘s Jason Hancock said, “Polls throughout the campaign have shown Greitens, Hartzler and Attorney General Eric Schmitt tightly grouped at the top of the crowded Republican field,” but that an endorsement from former President Donald Trump (R) “is widely considered a potential silver bullet in the race that would automatically launch whoever received it to frontrunner status.” As of July 19, Trump had not endorsed a candidate in the race.
Greitens was the governor of Missouri from 2017 until June 1, 2018, when he resigned following investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct and misuse of campaign information. Greitens also served as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer and founded The Mission Continues, a nonprofit group that connects veterans with volunteer work to help them in their post-military transitions. “We need fighters who are willing to do what it takes to take our country back, to take our country back from the left. And also we need fighters who are willing to take on the establishment — take on the mainstream media,” Greitens said.
Hartzler has represented Missouri’s 4th Congressional District since 2011. Hartzler worked as a high school teacher, as spokeswoman for the Coalition to Protect Marriage, an organization opposing gay marriage, and as the spokeswoman for the Missouri Women’s Council, an agency within the Missouri Department of Economic Development. According to her campaign website, Hartzler is running for U.S. Senate “to protect our freedoms and preserve America’s greatness with a vision that puts our country first,” adding, “I listen. I care. I fight. I get things done.”
Schmitt has served as attorney general of Missouri since 2019. Schmitt previously served as treasurer of Missouri, was a member of the Missouri State Senate representing District 15, and worked as a private-practice attorney. Schmitt said, “with Joe Biden in the White House and a liberal takeover in the House and Senate, we need a proven Conservative to take the fight to the Senate and save our values, our culture, and our country.”
Both Hartzler and Schmitt have referenced the allegations against Greitens in their campaigns. “Real men never abuse women and children. Period, end of story. It’s time for Eric to get out of the Senate race and to get professional help,” Hartzler said. “This race comes down to me and Eric Greitens, who quit and was a former governor, lots of scandals, would lose the seat to the Democrats. It’s just a mess. And he’s a quitter,” Schmitt said.
Greitens said the accusations were “completely fabricated, baseless allegations.” Greitens’ campaign manager, Dylan Johnson, said, “The only reason these RINOs are willing to fund their lies is because Gov. Greitens is leading the entire field by a mile in recent public polling.”
According to Politico‘s Alex Isenstadt, “Top party officials, in Missouri and nationally, worry that should [Greitens] win the Republican nomination, he would jeopardize the party’s ability to retain the seat in the general election.” Show Me Values PAC, a political committee, that, according to Isenstadt, is funded by “Missouri-based Republican Party donors,” has sponsored ads criticizing Greitens. Johnson said, “These swamp creatures and grifters know their time at the trough is finished. That’s why they’re scared of America First champion Governor Greitens.”
As of July 17, The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections both rated the general election as Solid Republican, while Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rated it Likely Republican. In the 2016 general election, Blunt defeated Jason Kander (D) 49%-46%. In the 2020 general election, former President Donald Trump won the state by 15 percentage points.