Jul 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Republican oppo money sinking Greitens campaign

ERic Greitens
Tristan Wheelock/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Republican super PAC created to prevent disgraced former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens from winning the Senate GOP primary has knocked the controversial candidate out of the lead, according to several new public polls in the race.

Why it matters: The effective Republican intervention in Missouri's wide-open primary proves that party leaders can successfully boost mainstream candidates, if they so choose.

  • But Republican outside groups have been wary of intervening in primaries, even as Democrats have spent tens of millions meddling in Republican races to promote MAGA-aligned nominees.

Driving the news: The Show Me Values PAC has run nearly $6 million in ads blasting Greitens for being soft on China and highlighting recent allegations of domestic abuse made by his ex-wife.

  • Since the ad blitz, Greitens' once-resilient polling numbers have been in freefall.
  • An Emerson poll, conducted from July 21-23, found Greitens falling to third place, winning just 16% of the vote.
  • Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has emerged as the front-runner with 33% of the vote, followed by Rep. Vicky Hartzler with 21%.

Between the lines: Wary of alienating Trump or MAGA-aligned activists, outside Republican groups have generally maintained a hands-off policy in open primaries this year. That's allowed Democrats to create havoc in Republican races, knowing they can interfere without drawing much pushback.

  • In Maryland, Trump-endorsed state Delegate Dan Cox's decisive victory over Gov. Larry Hogan's favored-candidate Kelly Schulz was powered by $1.2 million in ads from the Democratic Governors Association.
  • Cox hardly raised much money for his own campaign yet maintained an advantage on the airwaves thanks to the DGA's assistance.

The big picture: So far, Democratic involvement has helped push three potentially winnable governors' races — Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania — into long-shot territory for Republicans.

  • But backlash is building in races with tighter margins: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is facing new criticism for boosting a far-right, Trump-endorsed candidate in Michigan against one of the 10 House Republicans who backed Trump's impeachment.
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