Missouri’s Greitens faces calls to end US Senate bid

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A bipartisan group of elected officials and campaign rivals on Monday urged Missouri’s former Gov. Eric Greitens to end his bid for U.S. Senate following claims that he physically abused his ex-wife and children.

“Real men never abuse women and children. Period, end of story,” said GOP U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a rival Senate candidate, in a recorded statement posted on Twitter. “It’s time for Eric to get out of the Senate race and to get professional help.”

Greitens’ ex-wife, Sheena, made the allegations in an affidavit filed Monday in a custody case over their two children. She described his behavior as increasingly erratic after he was accused in January 2018 of having an extramarital affair with his hairdresser in St. Louis and taking a compromising photo of her to keep her from talking about it.

He resigned in June 2018 amid numerous scandals.

Greitens is facing mounting calls to drop out of a competitive primary to be the Republican nominee for retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat.

“If you hit a woman or a child, you belong in handcuffs, not the United States Senate,” fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley tweeted Monday. “It’s time for Eric Greitens to leave this race.”

In 2017, when Hawley was Missouri’s attorney general, he investigated Greitens after The Kansas City Star reported that the governor and some of his staff had Confide accounts, which raised questions about whether his administration followed open records laws.

Hawley has endorsed Hartzler for U.S. Senate.

Even before the latest allegations against Greitens, some Republicans had warned that his nomination could jeopardize their chances of keeping what should be a relatively safe Republican Senate seat.

Fellow GOP Senate candidates Eric Schmitt — Missouri’s current attorney general — and Dave Schatz — the top state senator — were among those calling for Greitens to leave the U.S. Senate race Monday, and Democratic candidate Lucas Kunce also said he should drop out. U.S. Rep. Billy Long, another Republican U.S. Senate candidate, called him unfit for office in a Monday tweet.

Sheena Greitens said in her affidavit that the former governor “knocked me down and confiscated my cell phone, wallet, and keys” during an argument in April 2018.

She also claimed her ex-husband also struck their three-year-old son’s face and yanked his hair. She said one son returned from a visit with him in November 2019 with a swollen face and loose tooth and said his father had hit him. She said Eric Greitens described it to her as a roughhousing accident.

Eric Greitens called the allegations “completely fabricated” and “baseless.”

“I am seeking full custody of my sons, and for their sake, I will continue to pray for their mother and hope that she gets the help that she needs,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

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