Former president donald trump injected some last-minute confusion before Missouri Senate Primary Tuesday by endorsing “ERIC” in a Monday night statement.
Eric who? Former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens? State Attorney General Eric Schmitt? Or maybe even the unknown Eric McElroy?
“I trust the Great People of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds, just like they did when they gave me landslide victories in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and so I’m proud to announce that ERIC has my full and full approval!” Trump said in a statement after stressing that voters “need to send a MAGA champion and a true warrior to the United States Senate, someone who will fight for border security, election integrity, our military and our great veterans. , as well as a powerful force against crime and the frontier.”
When reached for comment, Trump’s team provided no clarity, saying only that “the endorsement speaks for itself.”
Allies of Greitens and Schmitt separately argued that their candidate was the true recipient of the endorsement, or that the other was not MAGA enough to win Trump’s endorsement.
A Trump adviser said the infighting demonstrated the former president’s enduring power and influence within the party.
“Instead of talking about Missouri, the Erics are debating what Trump’s endorsement means,” the adviser said. “Yes, it’s an epic troll.”
By not endorsing Greitens, however, Trump could have sealed his defeat.
“An endorsement from Trump is a wild card that Greitens needs. And if he doesn’t get it, it’s hard to see how he wins,” said John Lamping, a Republican and former senator from Missouri.
Schmitt led Greitens in most public polls, reaching around 30% support in the crowded GOP field, while Greitens tends to top 25%. Rep. Vicky Hartzler is statistically tied for second with Greitens in those polls.
Greitens began to stumble after a devastating onslaught of radio and TV ads from political committees funded by establishment GOP figures who brutalized the former governor for his sex scandalthe domestic violence allegations and a trade mission he took China.
For months, Trump had considered endorsing Greitens, but privately complained to confidants that he was concerned about the sex scandal that helped oust Greitens from office in 2018. And he was troubled by allegations earlier this year of the former governor’s ex-wife that he physically abused her and their 3-year-old son. Greitens campaign manager Dylan Johnson at the time called the allegations “politically motivated” and “outright lies”.
Amid a recent lobbying campaign by Donald Trump Jr. and his fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle — who co-chairs Greitens’ Senate campaign — some Trump watchers have begun to believe the former president would give Greitens the green light.
But Schmitt also had Trump allies in his corner, namely former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was on Trump’s defense team for his first impeachment trial.
Trump’s mood toward Schmitt’s campaign appeared to sour on Sunday when he began grumbling on his Truth Social website that Schmitt pollster Jeff Roe had released a survey of Missouri Republicans that didn’t failed to show Trump dominance in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary, especially against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump won Missouri by more than 15 percentage points in 2020.
The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary will face either former U.S. Marine Lucas Kunce or Trudy Busch Valentine, heiress to the Busch family beer fortune, in November.
Meanwhile, independent John Wood, a Republican and former investigator for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, said Monday he submitted enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in the general election.