Greitens’ Fortunes Falling

After retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens scored an upset win in the 2016 Missouri Governor’s race, he looked like a man with a potentially unlimited political future.

A year and one-half into his initial term, however, Gov. Greitens was forced to resign his position due to a sex scandal and related charges emanating from the St. Louis Circuit Attorney.

The indictment was subsequently dropped because the presiding judge ordered the Circuit Attorney to testify under oath in response to Greitens’ attorneys’ complaints of prosecutorial misconduct. At that point, the only way to avoid public testimony was for the CA to drop the case. The prosecutors were also unable to produce the compromising picture of Mr. Greitens’ mistress they claimed existed. 

As the 2020 election cycle came into view, rumors began swirling that Mr. Greitens was considering attempting a political comeback in a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Roy Blunt. The plan failed to gain traction but then became moot in March of 2021 when the Senator made public his decision not to seek a third term.

Seizing an open Senate race opportunity, Mr. Greitens entered quickly and the eventual three-way GOP primary battle among he, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) began to develop.

US Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield) and state Senate President Dave Schatz later joined the race, but they never moved beyond long shot status. Rep. Long had hoped an endorsement from former President Donald Trump would be forthcoming to boost his standing within the field, but such support never materialized and Mr. Long has yet to break into a double-digit polling column.

From that time on, Mr. Greitens had polled at or near the top of the field, but no candidate could break through the mid-30s. This suggested that should Greitens actually forge ahead of Schmitt and Hartzler to win the primary because his opponents were splitting the anti-Greitens vote, the typically safe Republican statewide seat would fall into the competitive realm for the eventual Democratic nominee.

From the time of the Blunt retirement announcement to the present, Mr. Greitens maintained his base of approximately a quarter of the vote, and that would prove enough to lead 18 of the 25 publicly released surveys.

Back in March of this year, Mr. Greitens’ ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, claimed that her husband had committed acts of domestic abuse against her, and child abuse against the couple’s son. Now, she has taken to the airwaves in an ad from the Show Me Values Super PAC where she details the violence against her child. The devastating ad, running in the key St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield markets and over statewide cable, coupled with adverse publicity from an ill-advised ad the Greitens campaign ran about “hunting down RINO’s” - Republicans in Name Only), appear to have finally exacted a toll against the disgraced former Governor.

Yesterday, a new Tarrance Group survey (7/5-7; 600 MO likely Republican primary voters) was released that forecasts Attorney General Schmitt to be holding the primary lead at 28%, with Rep. Hartzler close behind at 24%. Mr. Greitens drops back to just 16% support with an upside down favorability index within the Republican sampling universe of 39:49% favorable to unfavorable.

* denotes the candidate has received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2021-2022 election cycle. 

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