GOP Senate Primary Frontrunner Accused of Domestic Violence

Senate candidate & ex-MO Gov. Eric Greitens faces allegations of domestic violence, threatening the GOP’s ability to hold what should be a solidly GOP seat.


Ex-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, the frontrunner in GOP primary polls for Missouri’s open Senate seat, faces new allegations of domestic violence after similar allegations of physical abuse forced his resignation from the governorship four years ago.

  • Former First Lady of Missouri Sheena Chestnut Greitens accused her ex-husband, ex-Gov. Eric Greitens (R-MO) of physical abuse during their marriage.
  • Chestnut Greitens alleged in a sworn affidavit that Greitens physically abused her and her children, and his “unstable and coercive behavior” was so concerning others sought to limit Greitens’s access to firearms.
  • In 2018, then-Gov. Greitens resigned in disgrace to avoid impeachment after separate allegations of blackmail and abuse from his then-mistress, and charges he illegally fundraised from data he allegedly stole from a veterans’ charity.
  • Greitens was once a rising star, a former Navy SEAL actively recruited by both parties.
  • Greitens’ leading Republican rivals called Greitens unfit for office and urged him to drop out. Conservative Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) tweeted, “If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate. It’s time for Eric Greitens to leave this race.”


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Politico covered the widespread Republican fears that Greitens will cost the GOP a valuable Senate seat. Top Senate Republicans have broken their typical neutrality by condemning Greitens, and GOP Senate campaign chief Rick Scott called on Trump to take a “big pause” before endorsing.
  • The New York Times connected this latest Greitens scandal with his checkered past and collected statements from his Republican rivals, including US Rep. Vicky Hartzler who accused Greitens of “a pattern of criminal behavior that makes Eric unfit to hold any public office.”
  • MSNBC called Greitens “the most scandal-plagued Senate candidate in the nation” (Florida Democratic candidate Alan Grayson might beg to differ). MSNBC tried to link Greitens to other GOP Senate candidates like Georgia’s Herschel Walker, whose ex-wife secured a protective order alleging violent behavior, and Pennsylvania’s Sean Parnell, who dropped out after his ex-wife accused him of abuse during custody proceedings, which he vehemently denied.



Author’s Take

Missouri Senate polls have demonstrated two clear trends. First, Greitens holds a small but consistent lead over his top two competitors, US Rep. Vicky Hartzler and MO Attorney General Eric Schmitt. A recent Trafalgar poll highlights the second: Greitens’ primary rivals easily defeat the Democrat in a hypothetical general election, while Greitens ties with the Democrat in deep-red Missouri. There is history to back this up: Missouri Republicans have blown a winnable race by nominating a bad candidate in the recent past.

Missouri’s crowded Republican primary features candidates from every wing of the party, including: conservative Attorney General Eric Schmitt, establishment-leaning MO President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, social conservative and Hawley-endorsed US Rep. Vicky Hartzler, populist US Rep. Billy Long, and attorney Mark McCloskey who brandished a firearm at Black Lives Matter protestors on his lawn in 2020.

However, Missouri lacks a runoff so the primary could be won with a small plurality, allowing a candidate with high name recognition like Greitens to prevail narrowly in a crowded field. If Missouri Republicans don’t consolidate or if former President Trump doesn’t endorse or endorses Greitens, the GOP risks losing a Senate seat they otherwise should win easily.

As former President Donald Trump reportedly asked in his typical blunt style, “what kind of a guy ties a woman up in the basement against her will?”

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© Dominic Moore, 2022