Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is up for reelection. And, like clockwork, the Republican Party of Missouri is in complete turmoil again.
McCaskill won a second term term in 2012 when GOP Rep. Todd Akin’s campaign imploded in the wake of his comments about “legitimate rape.” Now, Republicans worry GOP Gov. Eric Greitens’ mounting scandals will inundate McCaskill’s likely Republican opponent, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, and bestow another term on one of the most endangered incumbent senators in the country.
Greitens was indicted in February for allegedly taking a nonconsensual nude photograph of a former lover, and the woman testified under oath that Greitens had a forced sexual encounter with her. As if that weren’t bad enough for the GOP, Greitens is refusing to step down, thrusting two of the most prominent Republican elected officials in the state into open warfare.
Hawley demanded that Greitens resign and triggered a new investigation into the governor’s fundraising, resulting in a second indictment last week. Greitens has fired back by seeking a restraining order against the attorney general, saying that Hawley’s call for resignation meant he could not conduct an impartial investigation of the governor.
The scandals are damaging the GOP at the most critical interval of its six-year wait to unseat McCaskill.
"[Greitens] is jeopardizing the whole Republican Party of Missouri," said Rob Jesmer, a top Republican consultant who was executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee when Akin made his infamous comments about rape and abortion during McCaskill’s last campaign.
It's funny here that the victim is the Missouri GOP and not, you know, the woman Grietens allegedly assaulted or the donor list to the vets' charity the Greitens founded whose data Greitens allegedly stole. We're supposed to feel sorry for the Republicans because they are losing the opportunity to beat Claire McCaskill.
There's an easy solution if the problem is Greitens: impeach and remove him from office. Republicans control nearly three-quarters of both the state House and Senate and could basically get rid of him without a Democratic vote, not that the Democrats aren't eager to get rid of the guy.
But Missouri Republicans are dragging their feet on impeachment and want to wait until the legislature's investigation is complete despite the felony charges from Hawley's office. That could mean that the legislature would have to call a special session themselves (not like Greitens will do it) to impeach, and for that they would need some Democratic votes. Democrats aren't committing to that because there's not a reason to delay the process until after the current legislative session.
Frankly, I hope the Missouri GOP keeps up with the self-inflicted wounds. Some of the state's biggest GOP donors do want Greitens gone, but others are making it clear that moving against Greitens will close their checkbooks, and Hawley's senate campaign funding is their leverage. Pulling the plug on Hawley's war chest, or at least not filling it, is a real possible result from this mess. Meanwhile, Senate Dems are flush with cash.
And the winner? Justice, of course. Claire McCaskill having a much easier time in November is a bonus, but the reality is that Greitens needs to be punished for his crimes regardless of the election result in Missouri.