It is true that a Missouri House GOP-led Investigative Committee found Greitens’ former girlfriend, who also alleged that she once felt she had to perform oral sex on him to escape his basement, to be “an overall credible witness,” and he is true that she testified to the events under oath, which Greitens never did. But no one has ever produced the alleged nude photo at the center of the criminal case against him. Greitens used it to blame his political rivals, including the “RINOs” of the state legislature, many of whom really didn’t like the guyand the St. Louis district attorney, who is really fairly liberalfor removing him from office on unproven charges.
“He’s not a disgraced former governor,” said Jane Cunningham, a former Republican state senator who served during Greitens’ governorship. “He’s an exonerated former governor, that’s more correct.” (In another campaign finance case, the Missouri Ethics Commission fined for campaign for concealing donors, but did not conclude that Greitens had “personal knowledge” of the violations. He was never tried on the other charges.) Cunningham represented West St. Louis County when Greitens burst onto the state political scene, and she recalled that he filled out a Doubletree at Chesterfield with maybe a thousand people for an event. “I knew very few people there, she told me, and it was my neighborhood”. She remembers thinking, “This guy is making the Republican tent bigger than me, ever. …I’ve never seen anything like it before. Cunningham has yet to endorse anyone in the race; she said she was watching and waiting.
Disgraced or not, “he is legislatively the most conservative governor we’ve ever had,” said John Lamping, a former Missouri state senator who helped Greitens prepare for his run as governor. governor. Lamping said he would not endorse Greitens, as he is a serious Catholic and finds personal scandals disqualifying. But he likes the populist-nationalist message. Lamp said that such a post would likely net Greitens 10 or 20 percent in the primary alone. At the high end, this could put the contestant a few points short of winning in a crowded field. (Greitens won his gubernatorial primary in 2016 with 35 percent.) “Missouri is ready for populism,” Lamping told me. “When you drive somewhere in central Missouri, there were factories, there were softball fields and public schools, and now the population is down and there are all kinds of problems.”
The Greitens supporters I spoke to all shared a distaste for the political powers that be, and not just the Democrats. One of Greitens’ biggest lines of applause at Arnold’s event was a repeat of his vow, if elected, not to vote for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at leader of the party in the Senate. A vote for McConnell, he said, would be a vote for “politics as usual” and for the “lobby class.” “I was the first guy in the country to say we were going to face him,” Greitens said. “And you know what? They came after us. … And I’m like, ‘Guys, you’re going to have to wait in line.’
“Especially here in Missouri, we have a problem with RINOs,” said Roger Dix, 70, who lives in the Missouri Ozarks and is retired from a career in the health care industry. Cunningham introduced me to him as one of the leading Republicans in the area. He cited a Republican-dominated legislature that this session failed to repay Family planning or ban transgender girls from women’s sports in state universities. “You want to scare my wife away? It did. Dix also believes incumbent Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri has turned his back on the likes of him; Dix sent a letter to Blunt’s office demanding answers about his concerns that the 2020 election was fraudulent, only to get no response and then see Blunt proudly chair Joe Biden’s inaugural committee. “We have lost our democracy at this point, when it comes to fair and honest elections,” Dix said.