A year after Missouri Senate collapse, Eric Greitens reemerges to bash Ron DeSantis

By: - July 25, 2023 11:24 am

Eric Greitens addresses the media after filing to run in the Missouri Senate primary on Feb. 22, 2022, at the James C Kirkpatrick State Information Center in Jefferson City (Madeline Carter/Missouri Independent).

Eric Greitens, the disgraced former Missouri governor whose Senate campaign cratered last year under allegations of domestic abuse, tip-toed back onto the political stage this week with a column for a pro-Trump news site declaring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential hopes dead.  

In the column entitled “Accept It, Already: DeSantis is Done,” Greitens writes that DeSantis “refuses to accept reality” that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president next year.  

“DeSantis is done — and for many, myself included, it’s not personal,” Greitens wrote. “We’re in a fight that’s too important, perhaps, the greatest this nation has ever faced: To restore the power to the people.”

DeSantis is the pick of “the establishment,” Greitens contends, and is being “fueled by their money, their airwaves or their henchmen.” 

Republicans must nominate “the man with the scars,” Greitens wrote, “who’s taken their arrows and goes back to the mat every single time. From where I stand, only one man fits that bill: President Donald J. Trump.”

Greitens going all in for Trump is no surprise, as his attempt at a political comeback last year hinged on winning over the former president’s supporters. 

In the run up to the 2022 U.S. Senate election, Greitens more than any other candidate in the crowded field latched himself to Trump and the grievances that fueled his rise — from lies about a stolen election to the alleged betrayal of so-called “RINOs.” 

Greitens was trying to shake off the scandals that drove him from office four years earlier, including accusations that he sexually assaulted a women with whom he was having an affair and that he stole from a veteran’s charity he founded.

In the end, Trump’s endorsement — seen as Greitens’ only hope to win the hotly contested Senate race — fell flat, with the former president throwing his support behind “Eric” and refusing to clarify whether he meant Greitens or the eventual winner, Eric Schmitt. 

It was an ignominious conclusion to a campaign that derailed over accusations by Greitens’ ex-wife that he physically abused her and his children. Those claims were made in a sworn affidavit by the former First Lady as part of a child custody dispute, and were amplified by more than $1 million in TV ads aired in the run up to the GOP primary. 

With his political comeback dead, Greitens once again retreated from the public spotlight. His federal campaign committee is largely dormant, and he shuttered his state committee in November and donated all of its leftover money to a nonprofit run by his former campaign manager

His column this week in support of Trump, who is himself attempting a political comeback despite being awash in scandal and indictments, marks the first sight of Greitens since his child custody dispute was transferred to Texas late last year.

In moving the case, a Boone County judge concluded there was “no pattern of domestic violence” by Greitens. 

The former governor declared himself exonerated, pointing the finger at the media for publicizing the charges. His ex-wife, however, said she never alleged a “pattern” of abuse — only claiming instances of abuse when Greitens was angry or stressed.

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.