Sens. Cruz And Hawley Endorse Two Different Republican Candidates. One Congressman Is Irate

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz endorsed Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in the state’s crowded Republican primary in replacing retiring Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, days after Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley endorsed Rep. Vicky Hartzler in the race.

“I’m proud to endorse [Eric Schmitt] for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Eric is a fighter who will hold China accountable, defend religious freedom, take on Big Tech, and he will protect American jobs,” Cruz tweeted Wednesday. Several polls have shown Schmitt in second place behind former Gov. Eric Greitens in the primary, and Hartzler in third. Schmitt was appointed to his current position in 2019, after Hawley was elected to the Senate. He won a full term in 2020.

Hartzler “is someone who I’m confident has the integrity, the character and the toughness to do this job,” Hawley said in his endorsement, issued Saturday at the Missouri GOP’s Lincoln Days festival.

Rep. Billy Long, who has consistently polled in the single digits, blasted Hawley’s endorsement of Hartzler on Tuesday, saying that the senator told him he would not be issuing an endorsement. (RELATED: Mark McCloskey Announces Senate Bid In Missouri)

“I called Josh and I said, ‘Vicky just hired your team, your consultants, does that mean you’re going to be supporting Vicky?’” Long told Politico.

“‘Oh no, don’t read anything into that … That’s them, this is me, that has nothing to do with who I’m supporting in this race,’ yada, yada,” the congressman said Hawley responded.

“I’d always considered us to be friends, I’d always supported him, I think a lot of him and his wife and his kids still,” Long added. “But it’s just disappointing, it very disappointing.”

The dueling endorsements could throw a wrench in efforts to prevent Greitens from winning the primary. Republican leaders have expressed concern that Greitens, who resigned from office in 2018 in the aftermath of sexual misconduct allegations and an investigation into his charity, could lose a winnable race. A poll released Tuesday by Politico showed Greitens leading presumptive Democratic nominee Lucas Kunce in a hypothetical matchup by only four points, with 20% of voters still undecided.

Missouri has trended more heavily Republican in recent years, although the state had a Democratic governor as recently as 2017, and a Democratic senator as recently as 2019.