Eric Greitens and Missouri’s MEGGA Moment - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Eric Greitens and Missouri’s MEGGA Moment
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Eric Greitens in “RINO hunting” campaign ad (The Hill/YouTube)

St. Louis — Eric Greitens wants Missourians to believe that he is the MAGA candidate par excellence. The truth is that the former governor is devoted only to the agenda of MEGGA: Make Eric Greitens Grandiose Again.

The upper chamber seat being vacated by retiring Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt should be a safe one for the GOP. Instead, it is endangered. With less than a week to go before the August 2 primary election, polls show that three candidates have about an equal chance of winning the nomination. One of them is Greitens.

Greitens is unfit for public office. Most Missouri Republicans recognize this. If nominated, Greitens stands a strong chance of losing the general election to an otherwise unelectable Democrat. He is so toxic that many solidly conservative Republicans, most of them Trump loyalists, would refuse to cast ballots for him in November.

Missouri has no runoff elections; a party nomination can be, and often is, won with a slender plurality. In crowded primaries filled with multiple candidates with credible credentials and policies acceptable to Missouri’s conservative mainstream, a fringe candidate with a small but unshakeable base can emerge as the nominee. This is what happened in 2012, when hapless Todd Akin won the Senate nomination only to lose catastrophically to left-wing Democrat Claire McCaskill.

Greitens, a lifelong liberal Democrat until he decided to run for office in a Republican state, gained a plurality to snag the Republican nomination for governor in 2016 against a crowded field of proven conservative Republicans. He won the general election on Trump’s coattails.

Around the nation, Greitens is best known for having been indicted for a felony and, for reasons detailed at this link, having been forced to resign from the governor’s office.

A bipartisan legislative investigative committee, led by a Republican majority and chaired by a legislator who had been an enthusiastic supporter of Greitens in the 2016 primary, found overwhelming evidence that Greitens had sexually assaulted and attempted to blackmail his hairdresser, a married woman. The committee found that he had seduced her, tied her up half-naked to exercise equipment in the basement of his family home, forced her to perform oral sex, and photographed her against her will.

These facts were determined not by RINOs, but by Republicans, conservative Republicans, MAGA Republicans.

Before Greitens resigned in 2018, the Missouri Legislature, including almost all Republican members, was poised to impeach him for that misconduct as well as for improper political use of a nonprofit’s fundraising resources.

Less known even to most Missouri voters, but well known to members of the Legislature and others closely concerned with public policy in the state, is that Greitens was a colossal failure as a leader in the governor’s office.

To call Greitens arrogant is a huge understatement. Instead of working with the conservative supermajorities in the state Legislature, he spent most of his brief time in office inexplicably denouncing the good guys as “corrupt” and failing to deliver on the conservative policy agenda.

Greitens’ two leading rivals for the Senate nomination, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, are dependable conservatives. Either of them would be a shoo-in to win in November.

Greitens would not be close to winning the nomination today had it not been for his talent for misleading out-of-state billionaires. Wisconsin’s megadonor Richard Uihlein gave $2.5 million to support Greitens’ campaign this year. The 93-year-old founder of Home Depot, New Jerseyan Bernie Marcus, gave Greitens $1 million.

If Greitens wins the Republican nomination, what will happen?

Sensing an opportunity, Anheuser-Busch heiress Trudy Busch Valentine became a late entry into the Democratic primary contest in March. If nominated, she has deep pockets to self-finance her campaign. Lucas Kunce, a political novice, had been favored to become the sacrificial-lamb Democratic nominee before Busch Valentine saw an opening.

Meanwhile, a never-Trumper Republican, John Wood, is seeking to get on the ballot as an independent in November. His effort is led by moderate former Republican Sen. John Danforth.

Wood is not just a garden-variety never-Trumper. Until just recently, he was Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s legal counsel on the Jan. 6 Committee.

Wood has no chance of winning in November, but his entrance on the ballot would inflame tensions within Republican ranks. If Greitens becomes the nominee, the combination of Republicans who would vote for Wood and those who would abstain from voting for any Senate candidate could hand the election to a Democrat.

And should that happen, we will not be able to blame it simply on the RINOs and the never-Trumpers.

Joseph Duggan, formerly a Republican official in the White House and State Department, lives in his native St. Louis, where he is a business owner and investor.

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