‘I will win’: Greetens adamant in Missouri Senate race

scheduled tribe. Lewis (AP) — Eric Greetens as stepped aside Governor of Missouri In the midst of a scandal involving allegations of blackmail, confinement and sexual assault in 2018. As he attempts a political comeback with a US Senate bid this year, his ex-wife said Greetens physically abused her and one of her children.

It took very little time for his once political career to end. But at a recent meeting of the St. Charles County Pachyderm Club in a largely Republican area of ​​suburban St. Louis, GOP voters engaged in real debate whether they would support Grettens in the August primary.

The club’s president, Bob Sullentrup, 70, dismissed the grits as “damaged goods”.

“That’s going to be creamy,” he said. “That stuff will follow him.”

Others, including many women, were not so sure. Sharon Kumnick of Weldon Springs said she would vote for Grettens if she is the GOP nominee, noting that “everybody’s divorce, when they want more than they can offer, is controversial.”

Tina Maloney, a real estate investor in St. Charles, said Greetens should stay in the race.

“I just don’t think you’ve been accused of doing something in this day and age that you should give up,” Maloney said. “It’s what they always do,” she said, citing sexual assault allegations that surfaced Brett Kavanaugh During the Supreme Court nomination hearing.

“It shows character to fight,” Maloney said.

That sentiment is reinforcing Grettens’ refusal to leave the race, which presents the latest test of the GOP’s openness to men accused of physical or sexual abuse. Greetens is convinced that by casting himself as a conservative fighter Former President Donald TrumpHe may win the Republican nomination for Missouri’s open US Senate seat, even though he has many political beneficiaries. left him And the party establishment wishes he would just go away.

“I’m going to win,” Grittens said in an email, calling his ex-wife’s allegations “false” and a “politically hit job.”

Indeed, Trump is probably the GOP’s best example of how candidates can come to power through allegations of abuse. She won the 2016 campaign despite allegations of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women. In the middle of this year, herschel walker Georgia poised to become GOP nominee for US Senate seat despite repeated threats On the life of his ex-wife. A Republican candidate for governor in Nebraska, Charles W. Herbster, were Accused of groping last week many women.

Sean Parnell, a Republican seeking a US Senate seat in Pennsylvania, is a rare example of a candidate who ended his campaign Following allegations of abuse. He did so only after he lost a court battle over the custody of his three children.

The string of allegations worries some Republicans who are concerned that the party will rally behind candidates who will be unable to win the general election, when liberal voters often play a more decisive role. With the Senate divided evenly, the GOP cannot lose what would otherwise be a secure seat.

After this, this concern has deepened in Missouri. Trudy Bush Valentine, the heir to the Anheuser-Busch fortune, whose family history is deeply entwined with the state, entered the Senate race as a Democrat last month. Many in the party have considered Valentines as the best opportunity to turn seats.

In his personal capacity, state GOP treasurer Pat Thomas has called on Grettens to quit the race. She said Valentine’s entry makes it all the more necessary for someone other than Greetens to emerge as the nominee.

“I’m definitely concerned that (he) could be a problem,” Thomas said.

Greetens, a former Navy SEAL and Rhodes scholar, was considered an early pioneer in the crowded Republican primary to replace the retired GOP. Sen. Roy Blunt, But his campaign was rocked last month when his ex-wife, Sheena Greetens, filed an affidavit as part of a child custody case accusing Eric Grittens of displaying such “volatile and coercive behavior” in 2018. It was learned that others had taken steps to limit their access. to firearms.

In the affidavit, Sheena Grittens said that he once knocked her down, took her wallet, keys and phone, and prevented her from leaving the house with her two children. She also accused Eric Grettens of killing their eldest son and pulling him by his hair, among other claims.

Eric Greetens says it’s all a lie. And he, his associates, and his lawyers have used hardball tactics to try to discredit him.

In statements, interviews, a press conference and on social media, he has portrayed Sheena Grittens as a “liar with a documented history of mental illness”. He has also accused him of working in a conspiracy with a web of Republican figures to undermine the candidacy of Senate Minority Leader Eric Grittens. Mitch McConnellR-Ky., longtime Republican operative Karl Rove, and Greetens’ former 2016 campaign manager Austin Chambers, who has vehemently defended Sheena Greetens.

Eric Greetens said, “Everyone immediately realized it was a political hit work.”

His lawyers have filed subpoena requests seeking phone records from Sheena Greetens, her sister, as well as Rove and Chambers, whose attorneys called the attempt an “abuse of judicial process” by a “trapped campaign.”

But Eric Greetens says that if the charges against him were true, there’s no way his ex-wife would have agreed to a court-approved parenting plan two years ago. An affidavit she filed at the time said it was in the children’s “best interest” for the parents to share joint custody, an anomaly that she argues was abused in light of her recent statements. has been accused of.

Sheena Greetens says she told “many lawyers, therapists, and our mediators, in 2018 and beyond,” about the allegations of abuse. She also says that she will present evidence in court, including pictures and documents of their communication. The parenting agreement happened while she was moving to Texas for her job.

“I had to make concessions that I didn’t want to make,” she said in a court filing.

In the end, she says that her ex-husband’s current behavior feels like a repeat of 2018, when he resigned instead of taking an oath to respond to the allegations leveled by him. former hairdresser, who testified that he locked her in his basement blindfolded, assaulted her and appeared to take a compromising photo to pressure her to keep quiet about an affair. He has admitted to the affair, but has denied taking pictures.

“When his political future is at risk, he becomes precarious, adamant, coercive and threatened,” Sheena Greetens said in a recent court filing. “He accuses me of things that are untrue and generates conspiracy theories about me collaborating with my enemies when I haven’t done anything.”

For now, the political fallout from the episode is uncertain.

There are signs the controversy could strengthen the pro-Trump base. Several online conservative outlets have taken the side of Grettens, criticizing his ex-wife, a college professor at the University of Texas who specializes in Asian affairs. And Greetens’ campaign says it saw a dramatic increase in donations since the allegations were made public, taking in more than $100,000 in 14 days.

But many prominent Republicans in Missouri have also strongly condemned him. Sen josh hollywho served as Missouri’s attorney general when Grettens was governor, said in a statement that if you hit a woman or a child, “you are in handcuffs, not the United States Senate. Eric Greetens It’s time to leave this race.”

Greetens’s major detractors also used harsh words for him to go to jail, drop out of school, or ask for help. But not everyone was in a hurry to condemn it completely.

Governor Mike Parson said he believed in Sheena Greetens, but stopped urging Eric Greetens to terminate her candidacy. The Missouri Republican Party also did not take a stand on Grettens’ future.

“The best thing he can do is suspend his campaign,” said state party treasurer Thomas.

She also noted that while Greetens accused the woman of lying to her as well as his ex-wife, both have given their statements under oath—which Eric Greetens has not.

“Why didn’t he go under oath?” Thomas asked. “If he had nothing to hide and wanted to do it all, why doesn’t he do it for his supporters?”

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Slodysko reported from Washington.

By Brian Slodisco and Jim Salter, The Associated Press

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