Schmitt happens: Mo. attorney general cruises to U.S. Senate win
Republican Eric Schmitt will be Missouri’s next U.S. Senator, cruising to an easy victory Tuesday over Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine.
With roughly 70% of precincts reporting, Schmitt led Valentine 56% to 41%.
“Missourians have always been suspicious of a federal government 1,000 miles away telling us how to run our lives,” Schmitt told supporters Tuesday night. “We’ve always wanted to chart our own course. And that still rings true today.”
Schmitt, 47, will replace U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, who announced his retirement last year and set off a scramble among Republicans to replace him. He emerged from a bruising primary campaign with the aid of millions of dollars in outside spending by political action committees created to bolster his candidacy and tear down his rivals, most notably former Gov. Eric Greitens.
In the general election, Schmitt has focused on a vow to oppose Democratic President Joe Biden and characterizing Valentine as an out-of-touch heiress who will work with the president.
The Associated Press reported Schmitt’s office has filed 25 lawsuits in 20 months against the Biden administration, challenging policies ranging from COVID-19 vaccinations to climate change. He was also among the GOP attorneys general who joined unsuccessful lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Schmitt began his political career as an alderman in the St. Louis County city of Glendale before winning election to the Missouri Senate in 2008, taking 55% of the vote in middle-class neighborhoods along Interstate 44.
As a state senator, he earned a reputation as a moderate willing to work with Democrats
When he ran unopposed for re-election to the Senate in 2012, Schmitt was endorsed by the AFL-CIO, recognition of his support on bills important to unions. He was blacklisted by Missouri Right to Life for supporting a bill to spur investment in new technologies.
He was elected Missouri treasurer in 2016, and was appointed attorney general two years later.
Schmitt’s public persona has shifted starkly to the right in the years since he left the legislature as he eyed higher office.
In addition to litigation against the Biden administration, Schmitt has filed dozens of lawsuits against local school districts, with most taking aim at policies put in place during the pandemic to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. He’s also accused school districts of pushing “critical race theory” in curriculum.
At one point, Schmitt even filed a lawsuit against China.
The avalanche of lawsuits have been labeled political stunts by Schmitt’s critics, and even inspired Republican lawmakers to deny Schmitt’s office a $500,000 increase he requested for his budget.
He continued the theme of his campaign Tuesday night, decrying “political indoctrination” in schools and proclaiming Americans want to “defend the police, not defund the police.”
Valentine, 65, is a nurse and heiress to the Anheuser-Busch family fortune who has largely self-funded her quest for the U.S. Senate by pouring millions into the race since joining it earlier this year.
A first time candidate for elected office. Busch Valentine has at times stumbled on the stump, most notably before the primary when asked about her position on transgender rights. But her focus heading into the race’s homestretch was abortion rights, specifically Schmitt’s role in enacting Missouri’s strict abortion ban. A recent ad from her campaign features a woman who was denied an abortion during a medical emergency because of the state’s ban.
“When I decided to run for the U.S. Senate, my goal was pretty straight forward. I wanted to protect our democracy and help build a brighter, stronger future for hardworking Missourians,” Valentine said in a concession speech, later adding: “It’s going to be easy right now to feel discouraged—even hopeless. But please do not give up this fight. Meaningful change does not happen overnight.”
Missouri’s eight congressional seats were also on the ballot Tuesday, with the state’s partisan breakdown of six GOP districts and two Democratic left intact.
In the First District, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, a Democrat, defeated Republican Andrew Jones.
U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, a Republican, held on to her seat in the Second District, defeating Democrat Trish Gunby.
Republican U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer also held on to his seat in the Third District, defeating Democrat Bethany Mann.
In the Fourth District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican, gave up her seat to run for U.S. Senate. Republican Mark Alford defeated Democrat Jack Truman to hold onto the seat for the GOP.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver easily defeated Republican Jacob Turk to hold on to his seat in the Fifth District.
Republican U.S. Rep. Sam Graves defeated Democrat Henry Martin to keep his seat in the Sixth District.
Eric Burlison, a Republican, defeated Democrat Kristen Radaker-Sheafer in the Seventh District, holding onto the seat that opened up when Republican U.S. Rep. Billy Long decided to run for Senate.
Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Smith easily defeated Democrat Randi McCallian with more than 75% of the vote to hold on to his seat in the Eighth District.
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