Missouri GOP Senate showdown: Sarah Sanders endorses Eric Schmitt with week until primary

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FIRST ON FOX: Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is one of three front-runners in his state’s combustible GOP Senate nomination race, landed a high-profile endorsement with eight days to go until Primary Day.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the gubernatorial nominee from neighboring Arkansas who grabbed plenty of national attention as White House press secretary from 2017-2019 during then-President Trump’s administration, endorsed Schmitt on Monday.

“Eric Schmitt has fought relentlessly for the America First movement, and is leading the charge against Joe Biden’s radical left policies,” Sanders said in a statement shared first with Fox News Digital. “Few elected officials in the country have done more to block Joe Biden’s assault on our country as diligently and fiercely as Eric Schmitt.”

Sanders, the daughter of former longtime Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, emphasized that “the U.S. Senate needs fighters who will take our country back, and I know that Eric Schmitt has the experience and strength to win in November and get the job done.” 

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Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, right, greets supporters on the campaign trail, at an event at Colton’s Steak House on Sept. 10, 2021, in Cabot, Arkansas. Sanders is her state’s 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee.
(AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo, File)

Schmitt, who has won two statewide elections in Missouri — for treasurer and then for attorney general — has made headlines over the past year and a half, filing lawsuits against the Biden administration. He is one of over 20 Republicans vying for the party’s Senate nomination in the state’s Aug. 2 primary, in the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt.

Schmitt is one of the front-runners in the primary field, along with former Gov. Eric Greitens, who left office in 2018 amid multiple controversies, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler in Missouri’s 4th Congressional District, in the predominantly rural west-central part of the state. Also in the Republican race are Rep. Billy Long in the state’s 7th Congressional District in southwest Missouri, and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis attorney who, along with his wife, grabbed national headlines during the summer of 2020 for holding guns outside their home to ward off Black Lives Matter protesters.

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Schmitt, in a statement first sent to Fox News Digital announcing Sanders’ backing, highlighted that “Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been on the front lines of the America First movement and knows the importance of electing true conservatives that will challenge the Biden administration on a daily basis… I am proud to have the endorsement of Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”

Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt of Missouri, a leading contender for the state's GOP Senate nomination, greets voters at the Texas County and Shannon County Lincoln Days gathering, on June 11, 2022 

Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt of Missouri, a leading contender for the state’s GOP Senate nomination, greets voters at the Texas County and Shannon County Lincoln Days gathering, on June 11, 2022 
(Eric Schmitt Senate campaign )

Sanders joins a list of other high-profile Republicans who’ve backed Schmitt, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, former Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Sitt, and two other top officials from the Trump administration – former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker and former National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

Trump, to date, has remained neutral in the race.

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Missouri was once a competitive state but has trended Republican in recent decades, and the winner of the GOP Senate primary will be considered the favorite in November’s general election.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks to reporters in front of the Supreme Court of the United States on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks to reporters in front of the Supreme Court of the United States on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Former President Clinton in 1996 was the last Democrat to win the state in the race for the White House, and then-Sen. Claire McCaskill’s 2012 victory was the last time a Democrat won a Senate election in the state. Trump won the state by 18 points in his 2016 presidential election victory and by 16 points in his 2020 re-election defeat.

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