Hartzler rises in Missouri GOP Senate fight as Greitens faces abuse allegations

Recent polls show Missouri’s scandal-plagued ex-Gov. Eric Greitens may no longer be leading a crowded Republican primary field in the state’s open-seat Senate race following domestic abuse allegations.

Greitens’s ex-wife, Sheena, recently alleged Greitens physically abused both her and their children during their marriage and that he threatened to use his political connections to damage her career. Greitens denied the allegations, claiming that influential Republicans, including Karl Rove and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, were behind them. Prominent Republicans in Missouri, including both of its senators, Josh Hawley and the retiring Roy Blunt, have called for Greitens to drop out of the race amid the scandal.

Politico reported Monday that a new internal poll conducted by Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s campaign showed the candidate up 7 percentage points to lead the field at 23% since it last polled in January. The same survey found Greitens down 8 points at 22%.

A survey released last week by the Trafalgar Group also found Hartzler in the lead at 25%, followed by Greitens at 24% and state Attorney General Eric Schmitt at 22%. A RealClearPolitics average of recent polling showed Schmitt in the lead by less than 1%.

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Scott Faughn, publisher of the Missouri Times and host of the political television show This Week in Missouri Politics, told the Washington Examiner that domestic abuse allegations may be a bridge too far even for voters willing to look past the scandal that drove Greitens from office.

“I think a lot of folks are like, ‘OK, this is — we’ve seen enough drama here,’” Faughn said.

Faughn called it a “goofy” strategy for Greitens to blame Rove for his political problems and said he has spoken with voters who feel that Greitens should exit the race out of concern for his children.

Greitens could still pull off a victory in the primary, Faughn said, in part because he has closely aligned himself with former President Donald Trump.

“I’m not a person that believes that Greitens is to be written off or has no chance,” he said. “I don’t think that’s true at all. But I think he’s less of a factor.”

Republicans are seeking to win a Senate majority and need to maintain their hold on the seat in deep-red Missouri in order to do so. Faughn argued that if Greitiens wins the primary, it would make a general election more difficult for Republicans.

“This is for a Senate seat that, I mean, candidly, is probably a lock for Republicans if you don’t nominate a sicko pervert, right?” Faughn said. “We’ll see if they can pull that off.”

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Hartzler’s rise in the polls comes as a series of Republican governors sign legislation to ban transgender student-athletes from participating in sports on teams corresponding to their gender identity rather than their biological sex, a position she has long embraced. Hartzler ran an ad on the hot-button culture war issue and was recently suspended from Twitter after she wrote, “Women’s sports are for women, not men pretending to be women,” which Twitter said violated its policies.

Originally Appeared Here

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