In March, the Republican effort to retake the Senate in next year’s midterm election took a new direction when Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) announced he would not seek reelection in 2022. Blunt has been in office since 2011 after 14 years in the House.
His decision to retire at age 71 is not shocking but was somewhat unexpected. He has been supportive of President Trump in general. However, he did vote to approve the results of the 2020 presidential election. He was active in preparing for Joe Biden’s inauguration as Chair of the Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
While the deadline for filing to run for the open seat is still a few months away, several candidates have announced or expressed interest. Missouri’s status as a solidly red state and as highly supportive of President Trump means that an endorsement from Trump for the GOP primary will be extremely valuable.
Former Governor Eric Greitens was the first Republican to declare after Blunt’s announcement. He was elected in 2016 but resigned in May 2018 after allegations arose of an extramarital affair and misuse of a campaign donor list. His resignation came under threat of impeachment, which most Missouri Republican lawmakers would have likely supported.
Greitens is a former Democrat and has begun his Senate campaign by attempting to boost his Trump connections. He has hired Kimberly Guilfoyle as his national campaign chair. Reporting indicates that Trump is not pleased about Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend aligning with Greitens, however. It appears that Trump is not enthusiastic about Greitens’ prospects for winning another statewide race in Missouri.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has also been announced for the Senate seat. He has actively battled the Biden administration over COVID regulations and has developed a reputation for upholding conservative values and adherence to the Constitution. He stated recently that he has spent his time “defending President Trump and the America First agenda.”
Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis attorney who came to nationwide public attention in 2020 when he and his wife confronted a group of BLM protesters wandering across their lawn during a George Floyd-related protest, has also announced his intention to run. After pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges, he and his wife were pardoned by the governor.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) announced her campaign in June. She has also made frequent references to her allegiance to President Trump. She said that she shares a daily mission with Trump of backing her words with actions.
Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) is the most recent addition, announcing his run in August. Long said that he had told Trump that he plans on winning the seat “with or without” his endorsement. However, he has regularly emphasized his loyalty to Trump and has hired former Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway as a senior advisor to his campaign.
Every candidate and most Missouri voters anxiously await President Trump’s subsequent statements about which Republican contender he will be backing.