The standard operating procedure for Republicans seeking statewide office is to move as far to the MAGA right as possible during the primaries and then moderate as much as they plausibly can for the general. It’s what Dr. Oz is doing in Pennsylvania, and it’s presumably what any Republican will do during the upcoming campaign for U.S. Senate in Missouri.
But what would that look like for Eric Greitens, the GOP hopeful and former (disgraced, mind you) Show-Me State governor who recently released a chilling campaign ad suggesting Trump non-loyalists should be rounded up and shot? Will he drop a new ad saying, “Just kidding!—but here’s some B-roll of me devouring an increasingly adorable series of live ferrets”?
Now that Greitens has spilled his pig viscera onto an abattoir floor, many Republicans who held their noses throughout Donald Trump’s scandal- and outrage-plagued political career are trying to prevent him from winning the Missouri Senate primary, fearing that his antics could actually cost them the seat. After all, Missouri has elected a Democrat to the Senate in recent memory. In 2012, Sen. Claire McCaskill famously defeated Todd Akin after the Republican claimed that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant.
With the election six weeks away, some Republicans are panicking that a Greitens primary victory could hurt the party’s footing in a must-win state to take back control of the Senate.
“People have been aware that Eric Greitens was an electability hazard for quite some time,” said John Hancock, a former state party chairman who advised the campaign of Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a primary opponent of Greitens’s. “I’m troubled personally that he is the one candidate in this race that could cost the GOP this seat.”
Of course, the problem with trying to marginalize Greitens is that his black heart beats to the rhythm of MAGA World, and with no runoff, he could skate by in the primary with far less than a majority of the vote—as little as 28%, according to one Missouri Republican consultant The Post interviewed. And judging by my Imminent Apocalypse Advent Calendar, far more than 28% of Missouri MAGAs loved that ad.
But Republicans unwilling to endorse extralegal executions of their political enemies as an election strategy are doing their utmost to derail Greitens’ bid.
Republicans are testing out which line of attack against Greitens could be the most damaging. The messages included his personal controversies, such as an extramarital affair and allegations that he attempted to blackmail the woman with whom he had a relationship, as well as his attendance at the 2008 Democratic National Convention when Barack Obama was nominated. Two people who saw the results said the personal attacks moved voters away from Greitens, but not as much as highlighting his Democratic National Convention trip.
So infidelity, blackmail, domestic abuse, and thinly veiled assassination threats aren’t necessarily dealbreakers, but saying hi to Nancy Pelosi is a bridge too far. Good lord, what have we become?
Meanwhile, the biggest X factor in this primary race—other than Greitens’ shocking decision to temporarily breathe the same air as Democrats—is Trump’s endorsement. Some Republicans are reportedly afraid to attack Greitens too much lest he be viewed as the anti-establishment candidate—a niche he was clearly hoping to establish with his RINO-hunting ad. Even worse, his refulgent MAGA stink lines could attract the attention of Donald Trump and convince the unrepentant anti-patriot to endorse.
According to The Post, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel was “privately appalled” by the ad and has lobbied Trump to stay out of the race. That said, Greitens appears to be pulling out all the stops to court the regal tub of rancid nougat who’s somehow managed to charm the Underoos off roughly half the voting populace.
He appears to be pushing hard for Trump’s endorsement. He made Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, his campaign chair and has hired Trump insider Boris Epshteyn, a former White House aide. He’s also appeared on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s goofball podcast.
But securing Trump’s endorsement doesn’t even guarantee a primary victory, much less a win in the general election. And if the Democrats are going to pull off an upset in Missouri, Greitens may be just the candidate who can give them the edge they need. After all, there are still some Republicans who remain motivated by quaint ideals like common decency.
“It’s completely unacceptable, repulsive and I hope the voters of Missouri reject this guy. What a clown,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican national committeeman from Mississippi, in reference to Greitens’ RINO spot. “It really ought to disqualify the guy from public service when you start talking about killing people—and he can act like he is winking.”
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