The retirement of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) at the end of his current term has led to a crowded and very active GOP primary for the right to run for his seat.
President Donald Trump carried Missouri by over 15 percentage points in 2020, which means the winner of the Republican primary for Blunt’s position is likely also to win the general election in November. It also means that the endorsement of President Trump will be the prize jewel for one of the primary candidates.
So far, the top contenders include former Governor Eric Greitens, current Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO). Greitens resigned as Governor in 2018 amid sexual misconduct and campaign finance controversies. Hartzler has represented Missouri’s 4th congressional district, sitting in the west-central part of the state, since 2011.
Greitens and Schmitt have been the most active in seeking a Trump endorsement. Greitens met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago this week but has not been described favorably by Trump in the past. Greitens told reporters on Thursday that he has already received the endorsement of many “fighters” because he is the recognized “America First candidate in the race.”
Schmitt has already organized a fundraising event at Mar-a-Lago in March. In what appears to be an open move to garner Trump’s endorsement, he will be the first candidate in the Missouri primary to host an event at the resort. According to Politico, Trump likes Schmitt personally and has spoken with him in recent public events.
Hartzler has been attracting other GOP endorsements. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and the pro-life advocacy group Susan B. Anthony List has both given her early public endorsements. The Susan B. Anthony List described Hartzler as “Planned Parenthood’s worst nightmare.”
Hartzler did say Thursday that she recently had encouraging words from Trump, who she said told her that she “was doing very well.” She said that Trump told her that he had decided who to endorse yet, although he was “watching very closely.”
Sen. Blunt has said that he will enthusiastically support whichever Republican candidate makes it through the primary into the general election.