New allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against former Missouri governor Eric Greitens have prompted all of his primary opponents to call for him to drop out of the race.
The allegations are based on an affidavit filed by his ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, in their ongoing Missouri child custody case. She claims that the former governor was physically abusive to her and one of their sons, who was three at the time.
The allegations come after Greitens resigned as governor in the wake of sexual misconduct and blackmail allegations involving his hairdresser, as well as a House investigation into his campaign’s finances.
In a crowded Republican field, Greitens has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. Attorney General Eric Schmitt, U.S. Representatives Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, Mark McCloskey, and Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz are among his main opponents.
Greitens slammed the allegations in a social media statement “”Completely fabricated” and “without foundation.”
“I’m seeking full custody of my sons, and for their sake, I’ll keep praying for their mother and hoping she gets the help she requires,” he said.
The news was cited by opponents as a reason for Greitens’ withdrawal.
In a statement, Hartzler said, “I’m extremely troubled by the new allegations of abuse by Eric Greitens from his ex-wife.” “Eric is unfit to hold any public office because of this pattern of criminal behavior. “He should immediately withdraw from the Senate race and seek professional assistance.”
Hartzler, the only female Republican candidate, has been a vocal critic of Greitens so far in the campaign. “When I see a hairdresser, I make an appointment,” she said in an early ad, referring to previous allegations against him. She told reporters after filing for election in February that if Greitens won the Republican nomination, she would not vote for him.
“All Republicans and just citizens of Missouri recognize that physically abusing women and children is unacceptable,” she told the News-Leader at the Missouri State Capitol on Monday.
When asked if she thought other prominent national Republicans would do the same, Hartzler said, “I think there will be a groundswell of individuals who say he is not deserving of public office and needs to drop out.”
On Twitter, Schmitt echoed those sentiments, calling the allegations “disgusting and sickening.”
“I know a predator when I see one as Missouri’s attorney general, and I’ve fought for victims every step of the way,” Schmitt said, urging Greitens to “end his campaign immediately.”
Long wrote that the allegations had left him “shocked and appalled,” and that “there’s no way he can stay in this race.” He told The Kansas City Star earlier Monday that he would not tell Greitens to drop out and that he would support him. Schatz also demanded that Greitens “immediately end his campaign,” claiming that the allegations reveal “a long pattern of abuse against his wife and children.” “Clearly, Eric deserves to be in jail more than helping to lead our country,” McCloskey said in a statement.
On social media, Lucas Kunce, a U.S. Marine veteran who is currently leading the Democratic Senate field, wrote that Greitens “belongs in prison” and urged donations to his campaign to “flip this seat.”
Another Democratic candidate, Spencer Toder, wrote that Sheena Greitens and her family “deserve our respect and appreciation for their strength,” but that her candidacy “distracts from issues that Missourians are facing.” For the Democratic nomination, Kunce is up against former state senator Scott Sifton, Spencer Toder, Jewel Kelly, Gena Ross, and Tim Shepard.
“If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate,” U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, who has endorsed Hartzler, wrote on Twitter.
At the state level, the allegations against Greitens drew fire from elected Republicans. Caleb Rowden, the Senate Majority Leader from Columbia, described the former governor as “a fake, failed politician, and a terrible human being.”
The allegations were “disgusting, but not surprising unfortunately,” according to Austin Chambers, who managed Greitens’ 2016 gubernatorial campaign.