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Eric Schmitt to announce candidacy for US Senate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After much speculation, Eric Schmitt is expected to officially enter the U.S. Senate race to replace outgoing Senator Roy Blunt, sources close to the attorney general said. 

Blunt, the senior senator from Missouri, announced earlier this week that he would not be running for re-election in 2022 — setting off a frenzy of who could replace him among both Republicans and Democrats. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was seen as a potential favorite among national Republicans but removed himself from consideration earlier Wednesday. 

Schmitt has deftly risen through the ranks of Missouri politics, from alderman to state senator to state treasurer. After Josh Hawley was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018, Gov. Mike Parson appointed him attorney general. Schmitt handily defeated his Democratic opponent in November to remain in office. 

He is expected to formally announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in the coming days. U.S. Congresswoman Ann Wagner and Congressman Jason Smith, who would be a favorite for former President Donald Trump, are also considering throwing their hats in the ring. Disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens is also speculated to be a candidate. 

Democrats Scott Sifton, a former state senator, and Lucas Kunce, a Marine, have announced they would contend for the seat. 

During his tenure in the General Assembly, Schmitt is known for, perhaps more than anything, championing SB 5 which lowered just how much money the state could generate from traffic tickets and other violations. The bill came in response to the events of Ferguson. 

Schmitt’s catalyst for his role in public service, especially as the state’s attorney general, is his son. Stephen was born in 2004 with a rare genetic condition — tuberous sclerosis — which causes tumors to develop on a person’s organs. For Stephen, tumors have grown on multiple organs, including his kidneys, heart, and brain. It’s the latter of those that manifested the most challenges for Stephen, including seizures and epilepsy. 

“Stephen, clearly, was this sort of touchstone for me — to this day — and gives me a lot of strength and perspective as to what’s really important,” Schmitt said. “Oftentimes in politics, it’s easy to get caught up in these news cycles and lose sight of the important things in life, and Stephen is a constant reminder not to take anything for granted. All these things are gifts, gifts from God.” 

Schmitt, a lawyer, first entered public policy as the alderman for Glendale (about 10 miles west of St. Louis). He then successfully ran for state Senate in what was then the 15th district, a swing district, and served in the General Assembly for eight years. 

Due to term limits, Schmitt couldn’t run for the Senate again so he set his sights on a statewide office, winning the election for state treasurer in 2016. With the resignation of Greitens in 2018, shaking up Missouri’s executive branch, Schmitt was appointed the state’s chief legal officer.

As attorney general, Schmitt has also touted his office’s push to test the thousands of untested rape kits in the state to “honor the courage” of victims who have reported heinous crimes. Aside from testing them, his office is establishing a protocol for how to handle the kits.