But just a month after forming an anti-Greitens super PAC to blanket the airwaves with new domestic and child abuse allegations made by his ex-wife, the group has become the biggest TV consumer in the race. in the Missouri Senate, buying more than $6 million. ad value. Greitens easily lost front-runner status for months, according to several recent public polls, and another candidate is well-positioned for a possible Trump endorsement: Eric Schmitt.
A poll released by the Trafalgar Group on Monday shows Schmitt, Missouri’s attorney general, leading with 27%, followed closely by Rep. Vicky Hartzler at 24%, with Greitens at 20%. Another poll released Monday by Missouri Scout, a subscription political news outlet in the state, found Schmitt at 32%, Hartzler at 25% and Greitens at 18%. The poll was conducted over the weekend by Remington Research, an affiliate of Schmitt’s consulting group, Axiom Strategies. The Trafalgar poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points and the Remington poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
“I think it was a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Gregg Keller, a Republican strategist in the state working with a pro-Schmitt super PAC. “I think Republican primary voters in Missouri rightly have a lot of skepticism about what they read in the press.
“But at one point, when the former first lady of Missouri comes forward and says Greitens beat her when they were married, and says the same about her young son, voters think, ‘The number and the seriousness of the charges against him are just too much for me. I tap.'”
Greitens’ ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, testified under oath in an affidavit this spring that Greitens had previously assaulted her and their 3-year-old son, leaving the child with visible injuries. Greitens denied her claims in the ongoing child custody proceedings, insisting they were politically motivated.
New polls released on Monday aren’t the only ones to show Greitens falling to third place. A survey in early July by The Tarrance Group, conducted for the super anti-Greitens PAC Show Me, ranked the three in the same order. And a July 20 memo sent to Hartzler donors and obtained by POLITICO, meanwhile, also included a recent poll showing Greitens in third place. The OnMessage poll found Schmitt at 26%, Hartzler at 24% and Greitens at 21%, with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.
In a statement to POLITICO on Monday, Greitens’ campaign said the recently released poll was inaccurate, but did not release its own data showing otherwise.
“Fake poll numbers peddled by scam artists are an albatross in the political world and Governor Greitens will become the next U.S. Senator from Missouri,” said Greitens campaign manager Dylan Johnson.
Unlike explosive 2018 allegations that Greitens tied up his hairdresser in his basement and sexually assaulted her, which ultimately led to his resignation, his ex-wife’s more recent claims – coupled with millions of dollars in attack ads highlighting them — proved persuasive to Republicans who had long backed Greitens.
That puts Schmitt in an enviable position for an endorsement from Trump, who earlier this month publicly criticized Hartzler, saying she would not receive his endorsement. Schmitt, meanwhile, has allies who continue to pressure the former president to endorse him, including former Trump officials Pam Bondi and Matt Whitaker. Schmitt appeared Monday afternoon with Bondi and Whitaker in a panel at a think tank event hosted by former Trump White House officials, where Trump himself is scheduled to speak on Tuesday.
The appearance — and drop in Greitens’ poll numbers — comes after Trump in an interview aired on July 8 called Greitens “the one Democrats legitimately want to run against” and “a bit controversial,” but added that he had “endorsed controversial people before”. ”
Greitens, who gained national attention last month after posting an ad showing him bursting into a house with a rifle during a “RINO hunting” SWAT raid, has sought to soften his rhetoric in recent days. Greitens posted a video montage of black-and-white photos from his campaign, along with the note “This movement in Missouri is fueled by love, not hate.”
Donald Trump Jr. and his fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Trump aide who serves as an adviser to Greitens’ campaign, continued to press last week for Trump to endorse Greitens, according to two people familiar with their efforts. Their case, however, is complicated by falling poll numbers from Greitens, which have made their way to the former president.
“I’m glad I was wrong,” said James Harris, a Republican state strategist who previously believed a Greitens nomination seemed inevitable. “I thought at first Greitens would be hard to defeat, or a group wouldn’t really materialize and chase him. What we saw was Show Me Values PAC had a lead on Greitens, and he’s declined in every poll you’ve looked at in the last two weeks because they educated people.
The super PAC is running ads featuring a narrator reading directly from affidavits recently filed by Greitens’ ex-wife.
Harris noted the significant support Schmitt received from outside groups. This includes ads from Save Missouri Values, a donor-supported super PAC that overlaps with the separate anti-Greitens PAC Show Me values, as well as Americans For Prosperity and Crypto Innovations. A recent Save Missouri Values ad features Trump’s message on Truth Social this month attacking Hartzler, telling voters they “can forget about Vicky Hartzler for the Great Missouri State Senate.”
Trump and Schmitt’s relationship dates back to when he became Missouri’s attorney general in 2019, but the two first met in person in 2020, when Schmitt attended a White House event but was guest alone in the Oval Office. While Rep. Billy Long, who is a distant fourth in the Senate race, held a congressional fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago before launching his Senate campaign, Schmitt is the only candidate in the race to have organized an event. at Trump’s Florida resort.
On a Monday morning radio show at Columbia, Long argued that it would have been “a whole different race” if Trump had endorsed it “early.”
Predicting that Schmitt and Sen. Josh Hawley would be “two young bucks fighting over TV time” in the Senate, Long admitted he was far from a victory. He said the momentum seems to be behind Schmitt now.
“Looks like it’s his to lose at this point.”