Missouri GOP contenders distance themselves from McConnell

PEVELY, Mo. (AP) – As the US Senate primaries in Missouri draw to a close, all three leading Republican candidates are making it clear that, if elected, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell will not get their support.

Twenty-one Republicans are on the ballot Tuesday, with former administration Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt and US Representative Vicky Hartzler considered the top contenders. Eleven Democrats are fighting.

The Missouri candidates are among conservative Senate candidates who have stepped behind former President Donald Trump, who has attacked McConnell and called for new leadership in the Senate if Republicans win back the chamber in November. Trump remains popular in Missouri, but has not supported anyone in the primaries.

Greits, who? resigned amid scandal in 2018, has said during the campaign that he wants McConnell impeached.

Speaking in Columbia on Wednesday, Schmitt said McConnell has not supported him, “and I do not support him for leadership,” KOMU-TV reported.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler was more exuberant.

“I’m not going to support him,” Hartzler told The Associated Press during a campaign stop on Thursday in Pevely. “We need real conservatives who are going to fight for our values ​​and stop this train wreck, stop President Biden, stop (Senate Leader Chuck) Schumer, stop (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi and save our country.”

A possible replacement she mentioned: Josh Hawley, who? raised a fist to greet protesters ahead of the Capitol uprising on Jan. 6, 2021, and was the first Republican senator to announce he would object to the certification of the 2020 election. Hawley supports Hartzler, one of 147 House Republicans who voted against certification .

The candidates are spending the last few days making their closing arguments in a race where many voters are still undecided. Among them is Dione Parrish, 53, who plans to vote in the GOP primary and attend Schmitt’s meeting in Columbia.

“In the past, especially with Republicans, we’ve been betrayed many times,” Parrish said. “They say the right things and know the language, and then they betray us. So I’m really looking, trying to look deeper and harder so that doesn’t happen.

Schmitt depicted himself as a warrior for the people, nodding at his own penchant for lawsuits, including over mask mandates. The administration of President Joe Biden has been a frequent target.

“My job as your attorney general is pretty simple: I get up in the morning, I go to work, I charge Joe Biden and I go home,” Schmitt said, applauding. “I wake up the next day and do it all over again.”

Hartzler focuses on social issues, including her opposition to abortion.

Greitens, the usually brash former Navy SEAL officer who was convicted in June of a… campaign video by having him brandish a shotgun and declare that he hunts RINOs, or Republicans in name only, he opts for a gentler approach down the stretch.

One campaign email focused on his achievements during his year and a half as governor, mentioning job growth, lower taxes and tougher laws for those who attack police. The campaign also released a video montage of black-and-white photos with the message, “This Missouri movement is fueled by love, not hate.”

On the Democratic side, the final days of the campaign featured an eyebrow-raising comment from one of the top contenders.

Trudy Busch Valentine, a retired nurse and heiress to the family fortune Busch beer, was asked about transgender youth during a meeting with local Democrats in St. Louis.

“I would just say, wait until age 18, when a person is an adult, to do anything that wouldn’t allow you to go back to maybe the sex you were,” Valentine responded, according to a video posted on Twitter. “But other than that, I fully support transgender people without a doubt.”

Her main opponent, Navy veteran Lucas Kunce, called Valentine’s comments “heartless and dangerous.”

“These are Republican talking points,” Kunce told The Associated Press. “This is going after the most vulnerable people in our society, those who need the most protection.”

Valentine said in a statement to the AP that she believes “transgender children should have access to gender-affirming care in accordance with the recommendations of medical experts such as the American Academy of Pediatrics.” The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association support children to seek medical transgender treatment, but they do not offer age-specific guidance.

Kunce spends the waning days of the campaign reminding voters of his working-class roots.

“If you want someone who wants to fundamentally change power in this country, I’m your man,” he said. “I think it’s time for Missourians to have someone who knows what it’s like to grow up like them and live like they do.”

Valentine’s campaign said she hears from people about their financial problems and concerns about access to abortion. The campaign said Valentine “provides healthy solutions to these problems and conducts a campaign rooted in her values ​​of honesty, integrity and compassion.”

Missouri has long been considered a swing state, but has definitely moved to the right in the past decade. However, the Republican winner will be preferred in November GOP leaders are concerned that a Greitens victory in the primary could open the door for Democratic upset.

Greitens’ first term was derailed by a sex scandal and two prosecution — one for allegedly taking a compromising photo of the woman, and one for allegedly violating campaign finance law. Both charges were dropped but at the risk of being charged again and potentially facing impeachment, he resigned in June 2018. He and his wife divorced in 2020.

In an affidavit dated March in a child custody dispute, Sheena Greitens accused her ex-husband of abusive, writing that he exhibited such “unstable and coercive behavior” when his political career appeared to be collapsing in 2018 that steps were being taken to restrict his access to to limit firearms.

Greitens denies the allegations.


AP reporter Summer Ballentine in Columbia, Mo., contributed to this report.

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