Senator-elect Eric Schmitt speaking Tuesday night.
In his victory speech last night, the now Senator-elect Eric Schmitt toggled between two personas: one of a gracious victor surrounded by family and friends; the other of a pugilist who would arrive in Washington, D.C., in January ready to do battle with the Biden administration.
After being introduced by his cousin as Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" played, Schmitt took the podium and said that his win was "a message to Joe Biden that enough is enough. We want our country back."
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Schmitt led Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine by about 13 points, 55 to 42. Valentine took an early lead that quickly eroded, and the Associated Press called the race
about two hours after polls closed, waiting for just around 40 percent of the vote to be tallied.
See also: Schmitt Happens: With Eric in the Senate, Who Will Sue Missouri Schools?
Schmitt made minimal mention of his erstwhile opponent during his speech, other than to say he'd gotten a gracious call from Valentine earlier in the night. Throughout the campaign, Schmitt had used Biden as his primary foil. As attorney general, Schmitt sued the administration more than two dozen times over everything from COVID-19 vaccinations to student debt relief to an oil pipeline. Prior to those suits, Schmitt signed on to a lawsuit to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win.
In his victory speech, Schmitt signaled to the 300 supporters gathered at the Sheraton in Westport Plaza that he would remain above all else an antagonist of the president.
"Let's be clear, the Biden administration's unchecked assault on our jobs, on our families, on our liberties, on our values, must end," Schmitt said to great applause.
Among the grievances he laid at the feet of Biden last night were "reckless" government spending, high inflation, high taxes and "political indoctrination" in schools. Schmitt also accused the president of "begging" Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for oil.
"When I'm sworn in, my title may be 'senator,' but my job will be to be a fighter," Schmitt said.
Schmitt's tough talk was woven with much softer rhetoric about his background, family and friends, a large number of whom were in the crowd. It was difficult to find people in the audience who knew Schmitt only as a politician. It seemed as if everyone was a neighbor, a friend, or a friend of a family member.
Mark Pilkenton was one such friend of the Schmitts. Standing near the front of the large crowd at Westport to see Schmitt give his victory speech, Pilkenton said he looked forward to having Schmitt in the Senate to be "a check and balance on the [Biden] administration. It's been two years of blank checks."
Schmitt spent the final minutes of his victory speech focusing on his own family, more than a dozen of whom joined him on stage. On Schmitt’s right was his son Stephen, who has epilepsy, is nonverbal and on the autism spectrum.
"I thank God every day for his life," Schmitt said, choking up. "It will never be typical but it will always be special. Anyone who's ever met this kid has been inspired by him. I know I have."
As the senator-elect closed his remarks he said, "Tonight is not the end. It's just the beginning."
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