Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler launched a Senate run in Missouri on Thursday, becoming the first member of the state’s congressional delegation to jump into the race. She may not be the last.
“Make no mistake: America is in crisis. The Democrat Party has been taken over by socialists and they are endangering our security, bankrupting our nation, killing our jobs, fueling inflation, harming our children, defunding our police, shredding our freedoms and rewriting our history,” Hartzler said in a video launching her campaign. “They are destroying the country you and I love, and they must be stopped.”
Hartzler joins an already competitive primary to replace retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt in a state that has shifted in Republicans’ favor in recent election cycles. Former Gov. Eric Greitens, who left office in 2018 amid multiple scandals, is running, along with state Attorney General Eric Schmitt and attorney Mark McCloskey, who made national headlines last year for brandishing a gun when Black Lives Matter protesters were near his home.
Other GOP House members are considering running as well, including Ann Wagner, Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer and Jason Smith. Smith demurred during a Wednesday Fox News interview when asked about his Senate ambitions, but he said he has discussed the Senate race with former President Donald Trump.
“I would put my conservative record and my record for fighting for working-class families, farmers and small businesses against anyone,” Smith said. “And I’ll also put my record of standing up for the America First agenda and supporting President Trump and not running away when things got tough.”
Smith said Trump “will be very involved in the Missouri Senate race.”
Hartzler made multiple references to Trump during her nearly four-minute launch video.
“President Trump backed his words with actions,” Hartzler said. “That’s what Missourians expect, and that’s been my mission every day.”
A farmer and former state legislator, Hartzler was first elected to Congress in 2010, defeating a powerful Democrat, former Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton. Her 4th District seat, covering areas south of Kansas City, is now firmly in Republican hands. While all districts will be redrawn to reflect the 2020 census results, Trump won the current configuration by 34 percentage points in 2020, when Hartzler won a sixth term by 38 points.
Hartzler is known for being a staunch social conservative. From her perch on the Armed Services Committee, she tried unsuccessfully in 2017 to bar defense dollars from being spent on sex reassignment surgeries for members of the military.
Hartzler’s entry into the race further underscores the Show Me State’s shift to the right in recent years. Once a battleground state, Trump won Missouri by 19 points in 2020. The only remaining Democrat in statewide office, state Auditor Nicole Galloway, announced last week that she is not running for reelection.
Megan Scully and Paul V. Fontelo contributed to this report.