Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens used stark imagery to attack Republicans he says are not conservative enough. He defended the violent imagery and dismissed fears it could lead to real-world violence. (Screenshot from video)

ANALYSIS |

Each Monday, the Springfield Daily Citizen provides a digest rounding up news about the U.S. Senate race, helping local voters sort through information from the campaigns and other media. The primary election is Aug. 2.

Former Gov. Eric Greitens has tried to position himself as the disruptor among the many candidates vying for the Republican nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

With the release of a video showing him leading a group of men in tactical gear as they bust into a house in search of RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), Greitens set out to cast himself as a true conservative worthy of representing “the MAGA crew,” an acronym for former President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

As reported by multiple media outlets, including The Kansas City Star, the video was immediately flagged on Twitter and removed from Facebook. It was later removed from YouTube for violating its terms of service. (You can see the video embedded in this Washington Post column.)

The campaign likely got the desired effect, as the video was quickly condemned by his fellow candidates, most of the mainstream GOP, and even the Missouri State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. Only one major opponent resisted the bait: Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s campaign put out this simple tweet response with a “rolling eyes” emoji:

In reality, the Greitens campaign likely wallowed with pleasure in the publicity, accomplishing twin goals of cementing his anti-establishment image, and boosting fundraising efforts that have lagged behind some rivals.

The so-called RINO (Republicans in Name Only) Hunting Permit used as a campaign fundraising pitch. (Screenshot image)

A University of Missouri-Kansas City professor who studies voter behavior, quoted in this story by Galen Bacharier of the Springfield News-Leader, made the point. “You do these kinds of things to get the attention,” Beth Vonnahme said. “And even if it’s negative, it’s still attention, and I think we have such a divide in this country that negative attention from the traditional news media is a bonus for his candidacy. Having Facebook and Twitter sanction him in some way is a bonus.”

The ad also brought some added national focus to the campaign. The Washington Post cited several anonymous sources in its Thursday story, saying that “Republican operatives and donors in Washington and Missouri are privately working to undercut the Senate campaign of Eric Greitens … But the opposition is split among factions backing different rivals in the Aug. 2 primary and over disagreements on who should attack Greitens or how, according to people involved in the discussions.”

Politico reported Thursday that a group of Republicans (including Rex Sinquefield) are launching a group called Show-Me Values. They started running TV ads Friday in Springfield, Kansas City and St. Louis TV markets aimed at stopping Greitens from winning the Aug. 2 primary. They fear his victory could put the GOP at risk of losing the seat in the Nov. 8 general election. Sinquefield and his wife, Jeanne, are backing Schmitt.

Greitens has consistently led the polls by narrow margins, building off charisma and his image as someone who shakes things up. (See Friday’s Post-Dispatch story: Greitens resigned in disgrace. Here’s why he leads in Missouri’s US Senate race.)

The Greitens campaign undoubtedly thinks that they can win the primary even with less than 30 percent of the Republican vote, as the anti-Greitens camp cannot seem to coalesce behind a single candidate. Only time will tell if voters are turned off by the Greitens tactics, or his sordid personal history (including an ongoing messy child custody case) — or perhaps if people will rally behind one or two alternatives to Greitens. All of that is likely to be heavily influenced by ad spending, including a positive ad touting U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley’s endorsement of U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler.

AdWars

Here is the new anti-Greitens ad, “Scandal,” airing in Springfield and other major TV markets in Missouri:

(You can see the the full Greitens “RINO Hunting Permit” video embedded in this Washington Post column). The video actually has not been submitted to Missouri TV stations as a paid advertisement.

Other stories in the news

John Wood, a potential independent candidate for U.S. Senate, is seen questioning a witness during a hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Screenshot from C-SPAN)

Republican on Jan. 6 committee leaving to explore run for U.S. Senate in Missouri

From the Missouri Independent: A Republican attorney working as an investigator for the Congressional committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection is reportedly leaving his position early in order to explore a run for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat. John Wood, who is a former federal prosecutor who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is being encouraged to run as an independent to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. A committee was formed this week to persuade him to join the campaign. Read more

Trudy Busch Valentine outlines plan to help Missouri’s middle class

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: A Democratic candidate for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat outlined a 17-point plan Wednesday that she says is aimed at strengthening the middle class. It also could help Trudy Busch Valentine secure endorsements from key groups, including the AFL-CIO. Valentine, who is seeking to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, said her proposal could bring relief to people who are struggling with higher costs of gas, groceries, housing and child care. Read more

How 2022 Became the Year of Over-the-Top Masculinity in Politics

Lucas Kunce was the subject of a glowing profile by Bill Donahue in Washington Post Magazine, who described Kunce this way: “This guy is shredded. His pecs bulge beneath his blue T-shirt, and his implicit message … gains steam when we learn that Kunce is a 13-year Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. … What Kunce stands for is radical economic change. He’s a self-described populist, and for him, re-creating America is a military mission. ‘I’m a grenade,’ he told an audience not long ago. ‘Pull the pin on me and throw me into the U.S. Senate so I can change things.’” Read more

Digest continues below:

Absentee voting underway

Absentee voting is underway in Greene County, both in-person and by mail, for registered voters that qualify under the legal reasons outlined on the application. Under state law, registered voters can vote absentee if they will be away from their home county on Election Day; are incapacitated or confined due to sickness or disability; incarcerated and for some other reasons.

In-person absentee voting is available in the County Clerk’s Office at the Greene County Archives/Elections Center, 1126 N Boonville Ave, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, until Aug. 1 (the day before the election).

Homebound or out-of-town voters may request an absentee ballot by mail using this online form. These requests must be signed by the voters and received in the Clerk’s Office no later than 5:00 p.m.on July 20. 

Mailed ballots must be voted, notarized, returned by mail, and received in the Clerk’s Office before 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Questions about absentee voting should be directed to the Clerk’s Office at 417-868-4060 or to AbsenteeVoting@greenecountymo.gov.

Or get more information on this website from the Greene County Clerk’s office.

On the stump

News from the campaigns:

Tweet of the Week

The Daily Citizen Senate Campaign Digest is compiled by David Stoeffler, CEO of the Daily Citizen. Stoeffler has more than 30 years of experience in covering politics in Wisconsin, Nebraska and Missouri. If you have tips or suggestions for the Senate campaign coverage, you may email him at dstoeffler@sgfcitizen.org.