Schmitt Beats Valentine, Keeping Blunt's Senate Seat for the GOP

The Republican AG has claimed the open seat being vacated by Roy Blunt

click to enlarge Attorney General Eric Schmitt declared victory Tuesday night. - RYAN KRULL
Attorney General Eric Schmitt declared victory Tuesday night.

For once, the pollsters had it right: Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has beaten Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine to claim a seat as the state's junior senator. Preliminary results show Schmitt up by 62 to 35 percent, with roughly 30 percent of the state reporting.

The AP called the race for Schmitt at 9:12 p.m.

The pugnacious Schmitt bested a sea of rivals — including former Governor Eric Greitens — in a hard-fought Republican primary to fill the open seat being vacated by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), setting him up for a likely victory in tonight's general election. All Schmitt had to do was not blow it — and despite a few gaffes that might count as missteps in another state (and a whole lot of lawsuits against his constituents), blow it he did not.

Valentine, a former nurse and one of the heirs to the Busch family fortune, loaned more than $6 million to her campaign. But it wasn't enough for the political neophyte to overcome the GOP's formidable advantage in the Show Me State.

At 6:30 p.m., Valentine's communications director Jacob Long described it as an "emotional day" for the candidate because of the "blood, sweat and tears" she put into her campaign. He said Valentine was "humbled" by interactions with voters, and encouraged by the high turnout.

Valentine voted at 6:30 a.m. with her husband and kids then spent the day at polls in the St. Louis area and doing last-minute phone banking before having dinner with her family, Long said.

Absentee results showed Valentine easily beating Schmitt in the place they both call home — St. Louis County. But Schmitt took a big lead when the first results came in from elsewhere in the state, and continued to build his lead as returns continued.

Supporters at Schmitt's watch party at the Sheraton Westport Chalet were bullish even early in the night. Said 23-year-old Lindenwood University study Cullen Dittmar, “I’d bet my life savings on Schmitt. Not on all the other [GOP] races, but on Schmitt.”

Dittmar said he knocked on doors for Schmitt in St. Charles, where the reception was very positive, and in St. Louis County, where it was significantly less so.

click to enlarge Eric Schmitt held his watch party at the Sheraton Westport Plaza. - RYAN KRULL
Eric Schmitt held his watch party at the Sheraton Westport Plaza.

Judy Boyer is a Webster Groves resident who said she doesn’t usually come to political events,  but is a big enough fan of Schmitt to make an exception. She explained that when her yard sign for Schmitt was stolen, she and her husband got another — and started bringing it in at night before putting it back out again each morning.

“We’re headed in the wrong direction and a Republican senator might help turn things around,” Boyer said.

The crowd cheered as Fox News called the race at 9:10 p.m., and the AP call came soon after.

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About The Authors

Sarah Fenske

Sarah Fenske is the executive editor of Euclid Media Group, overseeing publications in eight cities. She is the former host of St. Louis on the Air and was previously editor-in-chief of the RFT and the LA Weekly. She lives in St. Louis.

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times. Find him on Twitter @ryanwkrull
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