Right on cue, the Republican Party in the state of Missouri is falling apart just in time to help Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in her bid to win re-election in this fall’s midterm elections.
Many people remember how McCaskill won her senate seat six years ago when her opponent Todd Akin went off the deep end discussing his beliefs about “legitimate rape.” The national GOP didn’t want him to win the primary but he did, and after that McCaskill’s victory was assured.
And now it’s déjà vu all over again. In a repeat of history, the Missouri GOP is imploding and its most prominent elected official is once again shooting himself in the foot.
Gov. Eric Greitens’ has brought upon himself numerous serious scandals and Republicans fear that these will severely harm McCaskill’s Republican opponent, state Attorney General Josh Hawley.
Greitens refused to resign after he was indicted in February for taking a nude photograph of a former lover without her consent. This put him at odds with Hawley who wanted him to give up his position as governor. So the attorney general then started a new investigation into the Greitens’ fundraising methods which were questionable to say the least. This investigation resulted in a second felony indictment last week.
When the leader of the state political party is facing two felony charges brought by another elected official from the same party, this is an indication of an organization that is in disrepair. And McCaskill stands to benefit from the turmoil, just like she did in 2012.
“Greitens is jeopardizing the whole Republican Party of Missouri,” said Rob Jesmer, a top Republican consultant. Hawley’s hands are not clean either in that he accepted a $50,000 in-kind campaign contribution from Greitens in 2016.
“I’m going to start having Claire McCaskill buy my lottery tickets. She’s a lucky duck,” said former Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock. “The bottom line is Eric Greitens is dividing the Republican Party in Missouri and he doesn’t care.”
Missouri Republican consultant James Harris shares the feelings of many of those in his party who are unhappy with their governor. “If you want to go out and talk tax reform, if you want to go out and talk about other things, you can — but you really won’t have any coverage because all that’s coming out in Missouri is about the scandals,” Harris said.
For her part, McCaskill is not remaining silent about the controversies, and is trying to capitalize. “We’re glad that Hawley has come out of hiding to acknowledge the existing evidence of criminal behavior of the Governor,” McCaskill said last week. “However, the sad truth is that this shows gross incompetence on the part of the attorney general.”
We don’t know if McCaskill will win or not, but as one person said, “If Eric Greitens remains the front/center news item from now until November, then I think it will have a potentially debilitating effect on the Senate race.”
And if that happens Senator Claire McCaskill will indeed be a lucky duck.