Republicans have repeatedly competed with each other on the right in an attempt to win their primary election in 2022, a race in which giving in to the activist base is often seen as a strategy for success. Missouri Republican Senate nominee Eric Grietens has taken this to the extreme.
On Monday, the former governor of Missouri, who resigned in 2018 allegations of sexual violence as well as allegations of serious crimes of privacy and campaign-related crimes – launched an advertising campaign calling on voters to take up arms and “catch” RINO or Republicans by name alone. Holding a rifle with a team in tactical gear, he says: “Join the MAGA crew. Get a RINO hunting permit. There is no baggage limit, no marking limit and it doesn’t expire until we save our country. “
We are fed up and fed up with Republicans by name only, who surrender to Joe Biden and the radical left.
Order your RINO hunting permit today! pic.twitter.com/XLMdJnAzSK
– Eric Greitens (@EricGreitens) June 20, 2022
The ad, which has since been removed from Facebook and hidden with a warning on Twitter, has drawn condemnation from both Democrats and some Republicans, mostly former lawmakers and current officials who are distancing themselves from former President Donald Trump. They warned that this was the same kind of rhetoric that sparked the violent uprising in the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and that made Trump and his allies “a clear and present threat to American democracy,” as J.W. Michael Lutig, a. a former Conservative judge respected during a recent congressional hearing.
“Every Republican must condemn this sick and dangerous advertisement of Eric Greatens,” said Barbara Comstock, a former member of the Republican Congress in Virginia. New York Times on Monday. “This is just a taste of the ‘obvious and present danger’ that Judge Lutig spoke about last week.”
Representative Adam Kinsinger (R-IL), who was named RINO for criticizing Trumphe was more succinct, tweeting, “You’re a very bad person.”
Greytens said in a radio interview for KCMO Tuesday morning that his critics took the ad too seriously and that it was only meant to demonstrate that he, a former Democrat, was a true conservative in his primary election.
“It’s fun to watch the outrage of all the liberal and RINO snowflakes around the country and the state,” he said. “The people who are most upset about this are RINO. They are the ones who came out from the beginning and joined forces, as they always did, with the mainstream media to come out and attack us. “
But it is difficult to accept advertising as a joke in an era of growing political violence. In 2021, threats against members of Congress more than double compared to the previous year, according to U.S. Capitol Police. And on Sunday, Kinsinger – who was among the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump and is a member of the House of Representatives committee investigating Jan. 6 – shared on Twitter a death threat to his wife.
Greytens is leading the race, but has faced a lot of criticism, even before the ad
The ad comes at a time of competition in which Greitens is leading the field and is likely to be nominated for a GOP, despite local and national the concerns of party leaders that he is too polarizing to win the general election.
Widespread outrage over advertising could eventually play into Gretens’ hands, as he courtesy GOP primary voters, who are usually more zealously right-wing than the average Republican. In less than 24 hours, it has been viewed more than 3.5 million times. So far, he has been a favorite in his primary election, even after his ex-wife blame him in March for violence against her and their children. Average around 24.8 percent likely voters have backed him in recent polls. His next most popular Republican opponent, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt, has an average of 21.3 percent support.
Trump has not yet approved any candidates before the Aug. 2 primary. Like Greytens, Schmidt, who was approved by the Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas are trying to present themselves as pro-Trump candidates.
A number of national Republicans have publicly expressed reservations about Greytens’ candidacy, even before Monday’s ad. Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Johnny Ernst (R-IA) even called him dropped out on charges of domestic violence against him. Advertising may be an attempt to deflect some of this criticism.
How advertising outrage can change the competition
Although advertising may deliver a certain segment of Greitens’ primary voters, it may be an incentive for other viable contenders to enter the Senate race, one of the GOP’s main goals while trying to gain control of the chamber.
A group of high-ranking Republicans in Missouri is urging John F. Wood, a senior adviser on the House of Representatives committee on Jan. 6, to run as an independent. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Among this group is the former US senator. Jack Danforth, who told the paper that Wood would “give Missouri voters a principled, traditional conservative choice for the United States Senate this year.” Wood has not yet indicated whether he will run. But he will still have to submit documents to the Federal Election Commission to start raising funds for the campaign and collecting signatures to enter the ballot in November.
Danforth has said that he believes an independent candidate would have a good chance of winning the general election based on polls he commissioned through his super PAC, Missouri Stands United. There is a risk that the plan will eventually hurt Republicans if it eventually splits the Republican vote, allowing a Democrat to win. But if the only option for the Republican Party is the scandal-ridden Greitens, their chances of winning the seat may also be slim.
Due to accusations of abuse against him, Greytens is considered the easiest opponent to win by Lucas Koons, the leader among opponents of Greytens’ Democrats in the general election. Koons had previously called on Greytens to leave the race and said he hoped the ad would mobilize and the left to do more to condemn the violent language of Republicans.
“Too often, this kind of violent rhetoric from criminal candidates like Eric Greatens goes unanswered,” said Connor Launsbury, deputy manager of Koons’ campaign. “We need Democrats who are ready not just to stand up for our values, but to really fight for them.
And it’s not just Greitens; just this weekend, sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), chairman of the Republican Senate campaign, said in a speech that “the militant left wing in our country has become an internal enemy.”
Republicans may try to present this kind of rhetoric aimed at dissidents, sometimes violently, as a mere metaphor. But as the riot in the capital and growing threats against political officials – from Kinzinger to elected workers who testified before Congress for the threats they face on Tuesday’s show, incitement to political violence is a real concern.