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Hawley 'concerned' Democrats could defeat Greitens in Missouri's Senate race

The former governor touted a recent Survey USA poll that showed him leading the pack of GOP candidates with 26% support.
Credit: KSDK

ST. LOUIS — Republicans like their chances to capitalize on the pain of inflation and retake control of the U.S. Senate in November, but one of the Senators who helped grow their majority in 2018 is warning primary voters that backing a candidate with too much baggage could come with a surprise setback.

Even with national political sentiments souring on Democrats who control both chambers of Congress and the White House, Missouri Republican primary voters could still run the risk of losing a seat to Democrats in November if they nominate former Governor Eric Greitens, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) said in an interview with 5 On Your Side.

"Yeah, I am concerned," Hawley said when asked if a Democrat could defeat Greitens in a statewide general election. "I am concerned about what the Democrats will do. I am concerned about the ability to hold the seat. I’ve made no secret of that. I mean, listen, Republicans can and should take back the United States Senate this November, but not without Missouri. Not if we lose Missouri."

Hawley's victory over former Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) garnered national attention in 2018. He's the last Missouri Republican to defeat an incumbent Democrat in a statewide election. 

Hawley endorsed U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri) in the crowded primary to replace two-term Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) who is retiring at the end of his term.

Democrats running for the open seat seized on Hawley's comments.

"Josh Hawley is right: Lucas Kunce will defeat Eric Greitens in November," his deputy campaign manager Connor Lounsbury said.

Kunce, a 13-year Marine veteran, is courting the progressive grassroots of the Democratic party, and is up against a well-funded campaign for Trudy Busch-Valentine

"We're going to win this race no matter who the Republican Party nominates because the people of Missouri are tired of politicians more interested in playing partisan games and building their own political power," Busch-Valentine's campaign manager Alex Witt said. "Unlike Josh Hawley and the politicians running to join him in the U.S. Senate, Trudy will dedicate herself to hard work and service for Missourians."

The Greitens campaign did not respond to calls seeking comment. The former governor touted a recent Survey USA poll on social media that showed him leading the pack of GOP candidates with 26% support over Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (17%) and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (11%). 

Another recent poll conducted by Remington Research, which surveyed far more voters and boasted a smaller margin of error, showed Schmitt in the lead with 29%, Hartzler in second with 23%, and Greitens in third at 21%. 

A third poll from the Trafalgar Group conducted back in March had Hartzler out front with 24.9%, Greitens trailing with 24.3%, and Schmitt in third with 21.6%. 

The Schmitt campaign did not respond to requests for comment. 

U.S. Congressman Billy Long, state senator Dave Schatz, and Mark McCloskey are also running in the Republican primary race.

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