Republicans sweep statewide offices (copy)

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, right, speaks as part of a Republican barnstorming tour that made a stop at Rosecrans Memorial Airport.

Sen. Josh Hawley said Thursday he stands by his decision to call on then-governor Eric Greitens to resign in 2018.

Greitens may become Hawley’s colleague in 2022. Greitens and current Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt are running to fill the spot that will be vacated by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who is retiring.

“Yes I do (stand by that),” Hawley, R-Mo., said, in reference to his calls for Greitens to resign as governor back when he was Missouri’s attorney general. “I think there’s going to be a number of candidates ... And there’s going to be a long period of time here for voters to be able to assess the records of everybody who’s in the race.”

Hawley left the door open for a potential endorsement, though he didn’t specifically say which candidate he prefers.

“Well, we’ll see,” Hawley said. “I do think that it is absolutely important and vital that we hold this seat in November 2022. Republicans cannot take back the Senate unless we win in Missouri.”

Hawley’s comments echo that of Hugh Hewitt, a conservative talk-show radio host who recently grilled Greitens about his campaign.

Hewitt asked how Greitens’ campaign would be different from that of failed candidate Todd Akin, whose campaign took a downturn when he made a comment about “legitimate rape.” Both Hewitt and Hawley seemingly expressed worry that Greitens’ campaign would put the seat in jeopardy.

“The House Investigative Committee’s Report contains shocking, substantial and corroborated evidence of wrongdoing by Gov. Greitens,” Hawley said in a 2018 statement.

Hawley was referring to a Missouri House report in which a “credible” witness said Greitens had an extramarital affair with her and took a compromising photo of her.

Greitens was charged with a felony because of the incident, but the charge was later dismissed. Greitens admitted to the extramarital affair and has since been divorced.

“But the people of Missouri should not be put through that ordeal,” Hawley said in 2018. “Gov. Greitens should resign immediately.”

Hawley also investigated the governor’s former veterans charity. Greitens is alleged to have used a donor list from the charity to raise campaign funds. Hawley’s investigation was the predicate to another felony charge that was also later dropped after Greitens resigned.

On Thursday, Hawley told News-Press NOW it is important Missouri gets “quality representation.”

“And I think it’s vital that the people of Missouri get the kind of quality representations, and who’s going to represent our values in the United States Senate, somebody who’s going to stand up for working Missourians, working families,” Hawley said.

Both Greitens and Schmitt have aligned their campaigns closely with former President Donald Trump.

“Missourians know from my public service that they can count on me to stand up to the Biden administration, fight to preserve President Trump’s America First agenda and keep this seat in safe pro-Trump Republican hands,” Schmitt said.

Democrats seeking the Senate seat are Marine veteran Lucas Kunce, former state Sen. Scott Sifton and activist Timothy Shepard. Two more high-profile Democrats, former Sen. Claire McCaskill and past Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, have removed themselves from contention.

The Associated Press

contributed to this report.

Matt Hoffmann can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @NpNowHoffmann.

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