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Missouri Right to Life holds firm on Greitens non-endorsement

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The pre-eminent anti-abortion advocates in the state, Missouri Right to Life (MRL), has released their general election endorsements. Anyone who looks at the list will see a noticeable absence.

Republicans Sen. Mike Parson, Jay Ashcroft, Josh Hawley and Sen. Eric Schmitt have all gotten the thumbs up from MRL in their respective races, yet, Republican gubernatorial nominee Eric Greitens, has not.

Greitens was notably left out of the group’s primary endorsements a few months ago, the only Republican gubernatorial candidate to not received the nod. When he emerged victorious, many assumed he would win their nomination by default, being the Republican.

However, their endorsement has yet to happen almost two weeks after he became the nominee.

Dave Plemmons, the chair of the MRL PAC, says they are open to meeting with Greitens, but that the nominee simply has not given MRL any indication he wishes to do so. Greitens hasn’t reached out to the PAC.

“We’re ready and willing to sit down with Mr. Greitens at any time of his choosing. We don’t shut doors on candidates,” Plemmons said. “If he wants to communicate with us, our door is 100 percent open.

Greitens’ candidacy makes Plemmons, MRL and so many other anti-abortion advocates across the state leery for two reasons. First, Greitens has yet to fill out MRL’s survey they distribute candidates (the reason why he did not get their endorsement in the first place).

Second, and more eyebrow-raising for many conservatives on the right, Greitens has received $100,000 from Julian Robertson, a hedge fund philanthropist who donates to a variety of causes including marine conservation, limiting greenhouse gases – and embryonic stem cell research. Most pro-life proponents condemn embryonic stem cell research as unethical human cloning, while supporting other kinds of stem cell research.

Greitens often stresses his pro-life qualities, and he has come out against embryonic stem cell research. But the money from Robertson is still troubling for Plemmons.

“Whenever we see large contribution to a candidate from advocates of embryonic stem cell research and human cloning… that’s a huge red flag,” Plemmons said.

If Greitens does not end up getting endorsed by MRL, it will show a marked departure of typical conservative interests from Greitens. Attorney General Chris Koster scored a trifecta of agriculture endorsements from the Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Corn Growers Association and the Missouri Soybean Association, which almost always endorse the Republican. Other social conservatives like Ryan Johnson, the president of the Missouri Alliance for Freedom, and Don Hinkle of the Missouri Baptist Convention have voiced their displeasure with Greitens because of his opposition SJR 39.

Regardless, Plemmons is still optimistic about pro-life candidates in general. MRL supports the rest of the statewide ticket, and they won in 23 of their 31 contested primary elections Aug. 2. But the Governor’s desk has not had a pro-life person sitting behind it in in 20 of the last 24 years. Plemmons would like to see that change.

“We’d like to have a pro-life governor, but things don’t always work out as planned,” Plemmons said.

The Greitens campaign did not respond to requests for comment before publication.