The already crowded field of Republicans hoping to replace Missouri’s senior U.S. senator Roy Blunt in next year’s midterm election has grown by one more candidate, with St. Louis trial lawyer and accidental 2A activist Mark McCloskey announcing his decision to run for the seat on Tucker Carlson’s show Tuesday evening.
“I’ve always been a Republican, but I’ve never been a politician,” he told Carlson.
“God came knocking on my door last summer disguised as an angry mob, and it really did wake me up.”
And he added: “They (voters) don’t want any more posers and egotists and career politicians going to DC.”
While McCloskey isn’t a career politician, he and his wife Patricia haven’t exactly shied away from the political spotlight since they were arrested and charged with unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence after that angry mob descended on the couple’s private neighborhood last summer, prompting the pair to stand in front of their home with guns in hand to ward off any damage to their property. The couple spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention, and even though their criminal case hasn’t yet gone to trial, there have been signs over the past couple of months that McCloskey was weighing a Senate run next year.
In a video McCloskey posted on his Twitter account Tuesday evening, McCloskey declared that, just as he stood up to the mob last year, now he wants to “take that stand for all of us.”
An angry mob marched to destroy my home and kill my family, I took a stand to defend them.
I am a proven fighter against the mob
When the mob comes to destroy our home, our state, our nation— I’ll defend it
I will NEVER BACK DOWN
— Mark McCloskey (@Mark__McCloskey) May 19, 2021
McCloskey and his wife are set to go to trial in November on the felony offenses, and while a criminal trial in the midst of a Senate campaign wouldn’t normally be ideal for any candidate, McCloskey will likely benefit from the media attention that’s sure to come. He also doesn’t have to worry too much about the outcome, since Gov. Mike Parson has already vowed to pardon the couple if they’re convicted on the charges.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has also tried to intervene in the case to dismiss the charges, but so far has been unsuccessful in his attempts. Schmitt himself is a candidate for the open seat, along with former Missouri governor Eric Greitens. As The Hill reported last month, many Republicans in the state aren’t exactly thrilled that Greitens, who was forced to resign his position as governor, is trying to launch his political comeback with a Senate campaign.
“The political reality on the ground here in Missouri is that if Republicans want to run the risk of losing this seat, then there’s a real possibility for that if Eric Greitens were to win the primary,” said Gregg Keller, a Missouri-based Republican strategist.
Among those in Trump World who have already backed Greitens’s campaign are Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and Trump’s personal attorney, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka.
His allies have signaled that they believe an endorsement from Trump himself is imminent, though people familiar with the former president’s thinking say that he’s likely to remain on the sidelines for now.
The nightmare scenario for Greitens’s Republican critics is that a splintered GOP primary field could allow the former governor to win the nomination with only a plurality of support. They fear that by nominating Greitens, Republicans would give Democrats a key opening in a state that has lurched to the right in recent years.
“If you have a few people in the race, you get into the scenario where he could potentially win the thing with 25 to 30 percent of the vote, and that would put the seat firmly back in play for Democrats,” Keller said.
Schmitt is likely to be the choice of most establishment Republicans in the state, while Greitens and McCloskey will be competing for the affections of the MAGA wing of the party. Greitens has already announced Kimberly Guilfoyle will serve as the national chair of his Senate campaign, but I suspect that McCloskey may have more grassroots appeal to the populist wing of the Missouri GOP than Greitens. It will be interesting to see if McCloskey is able to draw public support from others inside Donald Trump’s orbit, as well as what Trump himself might do. So far he’s not announced his support for any candidate in the primary, and may end up doing what he did in Virginia; issuing an endorsement after the gubernatorial primary was over and a candidate has been selected.