Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is up for reelection. And, like clockwork, the Republican Party of Missouri is in complete turmoil again.
McCaskill won a second term term in 2012 when GOP Rep. Todd Akin’s campaign imploded in the wake of his comments about “legitimate rape.” Now, Republicans worry GOP Gov. Eric Greitens’ mounting scandals will inundate McCaskill’s likely Republican opponent, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, and bestow another term on one of the most endangered incumbent senators in the country.
The scandals are damaging the GOP at the most critical interval of its six-year wait to unseat McCaskill.
“[Greitens] is jeopardizing the whole Republican Party of Missouri,” said Rob Jesmer, a top Republican consultant who was executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee when Akin made his infamous comments about rape and abortion during McCaskill’s last campaign.
Democrats can hardly believe their good fortune at the same time they pounce. They say Hawley’s outrage at Greitens rings empty, accusing him of going easy on a fellow Republican by stopping or stalling other investigations into the governor’s actions for a year, until Greitens became politically toxic. McCaskill’s party is also hammering Hawley for accepting a $50,000 campaign donation from Greitens in 2016.
The conflagration doesn’t guarantee McCaskill will win this November — she’s one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection this year, and one of five Democrats running in states President Donald Trump carried by double digits. But Greitens still maintains fervent pockets of support among state Republicans and is now feuding openly with Hawley: Earlier this month, the governor said Hawley is “better at press conferences than the law,” while deriding the accusations against him as a “witch hunt.”
Democrats are maintaining that Hawley spent much of the past year shielding Greitens from legal scrutiny.
“We’re glad that Hawley has come out of hiding to acknowledge the existing evidence of criminal behavior of the Governor,” McCaskill’s campaign said in a statement last week, after Hawley announced that his office had found evidence of criminal wrongdoing in Greitens’ political fundraising. “However, the sad truth is that this shows gross incompetence on the part of the attorney general.”
“We’ve known since 2016 that Eric Greitens exploited a veterans charity,” state Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber said in a statement. “Josh Hawley has had every opportunity to investigate that. It appears he’s instead decided to protect a political ally until the very last minute.”
(Excerpted from Politico 4/23/18)