Former Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in 2018 amid sexual misconduct and campaign finance allegations, announced Monday that he is running for Senate next year.
Framing himself as a “fighter” and a stalwart backer of former President Donald Trump, Greitens unveiled his campaign during an interview on Fox News. He played up his time as a Navy SEAL and in the governor’s mansion while discrediting the allegations that prompted him to resign.
“I was honored to serve the people of Missouri as their governor. We took on the establishment, we killed a politicians’ pay raise, we ended a corrupt tax-credit program. And when antifa came to Missouri, we stood side-by-side with police officers and we were able to restore law and order and defeat antifa,” he said.
“The people of Missouri need a fighter in the United States Senate, they need somebody who is going to go, as I will, as I’m committed to do, to defending President Trump’s America First policies and also to protecting the people of Missouri from Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s radical, leftist agenda.”
Once seen as one of the Republican Party’s rising stars, Greitens won the governor’s mansion in the 2016 election by leaning on his appeal as an outsider and a veteran. But about a year into his term, his reputation was rocked by mounting scandals.
A woman who Greitens subsequently admitted to having an extramarital affair with accused him of taking a nude photograph of her without her consent, and told state House investigators that he assaulted her. Prosecutors initially charged him with a felony invasion-of-privacy charge related to the episode, but that charge was dropped.
Greitens was also accused of campaign finance impropriety around the same time. He was charged related to that investigation, but that was also dropped. In a 2020 agreement between his campaign and the Missouri Ethics Commission, both sides agreed there was evidence the campaign committed violations but that there was “no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Eric Greitens.”
At the time, the political pressure, as well as the possibility of Greitens being impeached, led the governor to resign. While Greitens admitted to having an affair, he denied the more serious allegations and has pointed to the dismissal of charges, as well as the ethics report, as an exoneration.
Greitens aims to replace Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who is not running for re-election in 2022. While Greitens is the biggest name to announce a bid on the GOP side, a handful of high-profile names are still seen as potential candidates, including Reps. Ann Wagner, Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long.
Former state Sen. Scott Sifton, Marine veteran Lucas Kunce, and activist Tim Shepard are currently running on the Democratic side.
Ben Kamisar is a political writer for NBC News.