U.S. Rep. Jason Smith is holding a fundraiser at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida later this month, fueling already rampant speculation that the southeast Missouri Republican is planning a run for U.S. Senate next year.
According to an invite for the event, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is serving on the host committee for the April 30 Palm Beach, Fla., fundraiser. Among the other hosts are South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and U.S. Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Doug Collins of Georgia.
Smith has served in Congress representing Missouri’s bootheel since 2013. He’s been a staunch Trump ally, and is said to have a close relationship with the Trump family.
His conservative bonafides, along with his ability to raise money, could make him a formidable candidate in a potentially crowded GOP primary to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt next year.
Yet when Missouri politicos discuss Smith’s chances in 2022, they focus on the idea that he stands a good chance of scoring the coveted Trump endorsement, which in a Missouri primary would be a game-changer.
Trump won Missouri by huge margins in 2016 and 2020. He also campaigned repeatedly in the state to help Josh Hawley in his successful 2018 campaign for U.S. Senate.
Smith isn’t the only potential candidate courting the former president.
Former Gov. Eric Greitens was spotted at Trump International Palm Beach late last month, posing for pictures with actor Sylvester Stallone. And last weekend he was at Mar-a-Lago, where he was reportedly having lunch with former Trump aides and Kimberly Guilfoyle, girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.
Greitens officially joined the Senate campaign last month, more than two years after he resigned in disgrace under an avalanche of scandals and felony charges.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a political moderate during his eight years in the state legislature, has also embraced the former president — most notably by joining the unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
In announcing his candidacy, Schmitt declared that as attorney general he “spent my time defending President Trump and the America First agenda.”