Eric Schmitt defeats former Gov. Eric Greitens in Missouri GOP Senate primary, NBC projects

Toronto, Canada – June 22, 2022; Eric Schmidt, founder of Schmidt Futures, on center stage during day two of Collision 2022 at the Enercare Center in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Lukas Schulze/Sportsfile for Collision via Getty Images)

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Eric Greitens, the scandal-ridden former Missouri governor who launched a comeback bid against the wishes of many Republicans, will lose the state’s GOP Senate primary, NBC News projects.

Eric Schmitt, currently the state’s attorney general, is expected to run in the general election, where he will compete with a Democratic candidate for the seat vacated by retired Republican Senator Roy Blunt.

The early results mark a resounding defeat for Greitens, who fully embraced former President Donald Trump and battled recent domestic abuse allegations as he sought to return to the political limelight.

Greitens had announced his candidacy for the Senate nearly three years after resigning from the governor’s office amid accusations he blackmailed a hairstylist with whom he was having an affair. Greitens admitted to the date, but denied threatening to release nude photos he took of her if she revealed the affair.

He was charged with invasion of privacy related to the alleged blackmail. Greitens was also charged with illegally using a list of charitable donors to help fund his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. Both charges were dropped when Greitens resigned in June 2018.

Eric Greitens, Governor of Missouri, pictured at the Robin Hood Veterans Summit in New York.

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These and other scandals have left mainstream Republicans concerned about a Greitens candidacy jeopardizing the party’s hold on a Senate seat in a state that otherwise reliably votes Republicans at high functions. Democrats are desperate to retain their slim majority in the Senate, but their control of the chamber is threatened by a difficult political environment, exacerbated by President Joe Biden’s unpopularity and recent economic turmoil.

Greitens had completely aligned himself with Trump during his Senate campaign, including echoing Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud marring the 2020 presidential election. Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, joined Greitens’ campaign as national co-chair.

But the former president ultimately didn’t give Greitens an unqualified endorsement. Instead, he bizarrely endorsed “Eric” in the Missouri GOP Senate primary, where two of the top contenders are named Eric.

“I trust the Great People of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds,” Trump said in a social media post on the eve of the primary.

Greitens and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt touted Trump’s announcement as if it were a personal endorsement.

RealClearPolitics polling averages showed Greitens had a smaller lead over a top Democratic primary candidate than either of his two biggest Republican primary contenders.

After Sheena Greitens filed court documents in March alleging Eric Greitens abused her and their young son while they were married, many top Republicans called on Greitens to give up.

“If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who investigated Greitens when he was Missouri attorney general.

Blunt himself said Greitens “shouldn’t be running for Senate” if Sheena Greitens’ allegations are true.

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