One of the more under-the-radar but still interesting Senate races of 2022 is in the Show Me State, where current Republican Senator Roy Blunt’s retirement has opened up a seat in a formerly hotly contested swing state, but 2022 Missouri Senate odds do not reflect that history.
Whether Missouri could flip blue or not entirely depends on if former Republican Governor Eric Greitens wins the GOP Primary. That’s where the political betting intrigue lies.
2022 Missouri Senate Odds: Republican Primary
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GOP Primary Analysis
A Past Affair and Blackmail Investigation
Eric Greitens won the 2016 Missouri Governor’s election, but due to scandal, he resigned less than halfway through his term, handing the Governor’s Mansion over to his GOP running mate.
What is known is that Greitens had an affair with his stylist in the run-up to the 2015 election, and that affair ended at some point before he became Governor. What is less clear is to what extent the further allegations of abuse and blackmail are true.
Listen to Greitens’ side of the story, and he had an affair, he and his wife tried to reconcile, and they got a divorce in 2020, and the firestorm that led to his resignation was just that – a firestorm. Listen to his accuser and the view struck by the Missouri Special Investigative Committee, and it’s much worse.
Greitens is alleged to have blackmailed the woman he had the affair with for her silence, threatened her then-husband, and even engaged in physical abuse to force her into engaging sexually with him. None of these allegations have been proven in court, but they were found to be credible by a committee dominated by Greitens’ fellow Republicans in 2018.
Greitens’ campaign for the Senate relies on two things – his name recognition, proven ability to win a GOP primary, and the fact that Republican voters, especially primary voters, have not proven themselves willing to vote against candidates with histories of alleged abuse.
In Georgia, former football star Herschel Walker is cruising to the GOP Senate nomination despite allegations of domestic abuse, and the number of (unproven in court) allegations of sexual assault against Donald Trump are plentiful, which is some indication of how primary voters see these things.
Greitens is a polarizing candidate because of his scandalous past, but whether or not he is a misguided, disgraced candidate trying to make a comeback or a prohibitive favorite is unclear. That he’s running against a strong field cannot be denied.
Greitens is running against two sitting Representatives and the incumbent Attorney General of Missouri. It is also well known that former Attorney General, and current holder of the other Missouri Senate seat, Josh Hawley, hates Greitens, which could hurt if he endorses, either officially or in trying to consolidate the field.
Greitens leads, narrowly, in the current public primary polling, but many Republican operatives are scared, with articles decrying the general election chances of a Greitens candidacy coming out regularly, meaning he is seen as a credible threat to win the primary. That said, I don’t think he’s going to win.
Mitch McConnell, for whatever liberals may want to say about him, is very good at politics, and Roy Blunt was a longstanding McConnell loyalist. He will not sit on his hands if he risks Greitens taking Blunt’s seat when there are three perfectly conservative choices who will be equally reliable votes in DC without the baggage.
In Kansas in 2020, the risk of Kris Kobach winning the GOP Primary scared many conservatives, given Kobach had lost the 2018 Governor’s race, and in the months leading up to primary day, the GOP field narrowed, and coalesced behind McConnell’s preferred candidate. That is likely here.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt (pictured above) is the logical anti-Greitens, and one or both of the two Representatives will likely decide to run for their House seats again before the filing deadlines for the primaries. Greitens is too big a risk to the GOP to be allowed to run against a split field.
Given the risks of Greitens and the fact we have seen DC Republicans operate to destroy the chances of a potentially damaging primary candidate just last cycle, Schmitt should be a clear favorite, and until he is he’s a very good value.
2022 Missouri Senate Odds: General Election
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General Election Analysis
The next question about Missouri is whether or not Democrats can win it or not, and that answer is a resounding no.
If it’s Schmitt, Democrats have no chance. They will, whoever they run, be running a worse candidate in 2022 than they did in 2018, when they had an incumbent running in a blue wave and still lost by 6%.
Take away incumbency, and shift the national environment substantially right, and remember that Trump won the state by 15% last year, and you see why the GOP are going to win.
If it’s Greitens, which it probably won’t be, Democrats don’t really have a chance either, because while they will presumably do a lot better than they will against Schmitt, they’re not going to win. Greitens would be able to rely on national partisanship and his unequivocal denials, and the fact the two best theoretical Democratic candidates aren’t running.
If Jason Kander were running for Democrats, and they got to run against Greitens, then maybe the race might be somewhat competitive, but Kander isn’t running, and Greitens isn’t going to win the GOP nomination. Yes, a 90-cent price is steep, but it’s still too low.
The only argument for betting on Democrats would be to invoke Roy Moore in Alabama, who underran state partisanship by 32% in losing to Democrat Doug Jones in 2017. That said, the allegations against Moore came out after the primary, after he was already the party’s nominee.
Jeff Flake, then a Republican Senator from Arizona, found the allegations against Moore to be so odious he wrote a check for $100 to the Jones campaign, and GOP leaders distanced themselves from the race, because the GOP would hold the Senate majority with or without Moore. In 2022, that’s not the case.
With the Senate being so finely balanced, there is no chance the GOP would be caught off guard in Missouri, even if Greitens wins a primary. They will back him to the hilt because they have to if they want any chance of the Senate majority, and the GOP are near locks to win the Show Me State’s Senate seat in 2022.