Missouri congressman joins GOP’s crowded Senate primary, but weakness at home may hamper prospects

Missouri congressman joins GOP’s crowded Senate primary, but weakness at home may hamper prospects

Missouri Rep. Billy Long announced Tuesday evening that he was joining the crowded Republican primary to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt. Long noted that he’d previously been elected to succeed Blunt in the southwestern 7th Congressional District back in 2010, and argued he’d continue his legacy in the upper chamber. The congressman went a little too far linking himself to the incumbent, though. While his launch event listed both Blunt and fellow Sen. Josh Hawley as his “honorary co-chairmen,” both soon confirmed they weren’t taking sides in the primary.

Long hails from one of the biggest sources of GOP votes in the state, though as we noted before, the former auctioneer may not be able to count on as much local support as he might want. While Long has never faced serious intraparty opposition since he won his first race a decade ago, he’s also never exceeded 66% of the vote in any of his nomination fights. We’re not sure exactly why so many primary voters keep opting for Some Dudes over their incumbent, especially since Long doesn’t seem to have done anything serious to alienate conservatives.

Long may also face fundraising challenges in what will be an expensive race. The congressman raised a mere $200,000 during the second quarter of 2021, though he may be able to ramp it up now that he’s officially running for the Senate. He ended June with $560,000 in the bank.

Two of Long’s primary foes finished the last fundraising period with more than twice as much cash-on-hand. Fellow Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who represents the east-center portion of Missouri, took in $890,000, and she had $1.5 million available. Attorney General Eric Schmitt, meanwhile, raised a far-stronger $1.3 million during his opening quarter, and he had $1.1 million to spend.

The field also includes a few other Republicans of note, though they don’t currently have particularly large war chests. Wealthy attorney Mark McCloskey raised $545,000 from donors, but he had only $165,000 on-hand at the end of June. McCloskey was also in the news again Tuesday when Gov. Mike Parson pardoned the candidate along with his wife weeks after the couple pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault; McCloskey had paid a $750 fine and surrendered the weapon he pointed at protestors last year, though he said immediately after his sentencing that “I’d do it again” and quickly purchased a new rifle that he proudly showed off on social media.

Disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens, meanwhile, raised $435,000 during the second quarter, and he had a mere $135,000 in the bank. He’ll get some major help, though, as Politico reported last month that megadonor Richard Uihlein has provided $2.5 million to a new pro-Greitens PAC. Greitens soon responded by putting out a press release proclaiming that $3.1 million had been raised “to support” his campaign, though he naturally avoided trumpeting his actual campaign’s total.  

The GOP field could expand further as Rep. Jason Smith has been talking about running for months, and he’d start out with plenty of cash if he did get in. Smith hauled in $540,000 for the quarter, and he ended June with $1.6 million to spend.

On the Democratic side, the contender with the largest war chest was Marine veteran Lucas Kunce, who raised $625,000 and had $325,000 on-hand.

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