JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (ChurchMilitant.com) - With just a few days left in the primary campaign, the race to replace retiring RINO U.S. senator Roy Blunt of Missouri remains anybody's guess.
The momentum appears to be with Catholic state attorney general Eric Schmitt, who Trafalgar Group's polling from July 25 says is in the lead with 26.5% of likely Republican primary voters.
Schmitt's Catholic faith appears to have little bearing on his campaign. St. Louis CM Resistance captain Jim Murphy told Church Militant that "the Catholic thing on Schmitt didn't seem to go. We don't know what kind of Catholic he is."
But Schmitt expressed confidence when speaking to Columbia, Missouri, ABC affiliate KMIZ: "I feel good. We've felt the momentum on the ground as we've done these events all over Missouri and talked to voters. But now it is obviously being reflected in the polling, and that's very gratifying."
Trafalgar further reports that candidate Vicky Hartzler, who is endorsed by Missouri U.S. Senator Josh Hawley and former Missouri senator Kit Bond, is close behind at 24.4% in the poll.
Running third in the pack is former governor Eric Greitens at 20.2%. Less reliable polls show Greitens in second and Hartzler in third. A frequent guest on Steve Bannon's War Room, Greitens is feeling the intense heat of the media spotlight as new misconduct allegations keep surfacing.
According to Murphy, "Greitens seems to be getting the most hate from the media."
Notably, Trafalgar is reporting nearly 16% of likely Republican primary voters, within a week of the election, remain undecided. Murphy, a native of St. Louis also remains undecided. Even though he has a deep knowledge of local politics, he related, "I plan to spend the weekend studying the candidates and making my decision."
Missouri polling with ties to the Schmitt campaign has come under fire from former President Trump who posted concerns on Truth Social.
St. Louis–based media outlet The Gateway Pundit, on Thursday, reported exclusively that former vice president Mike Pence would soon be announcing his endorsement of Schmitt.
But the Schmitt campaign disavowed any communication with Pence, denying that anyone from its team had reached out to him. Schmitt spokesman Rich Chrismer told The Gateway Pundit, "I'd ask Eric Greitens whether he is seeking Vice President Pence's endorsement."
Schmitt was tasked with conducting a statewide assessment of clergy sex abuse similar to what was done in Pennsylvania and other states. But many believe his efforts were perfunctory.
One prominent Catholic leader in St. Louis, the state's most Catholic city, spoke anonymously with Church Militant on this point: "After the 'Summer of Shame,' Schmitt promised to clean up the Church, and he didn't do it."
The St. Louis thought leader went on to add that Schmitt is "pretty well unknown among local Catholics, so being visible in the Catholic community must not be part of his strategy."
Another yellow flag is that while Schmitt's campaign website mentions his son's developmental challenges and the need to support families facing such challenges, his website never specifically declares he is pro-life. The website does reveal he attended Jesuit institutions for high school and law school but never confirms he is Catholic.
Hartzler is slightly more forthcoming about her Christian faith; while Greitens, formerly a Democrat, is Jewish.
Schmitt has, in recent months, been an outspoken defender of conservative values. While he never claims to have been a Trump supporter, he has been walking the talk a Trump supporter would approve.
Schmitt did aggressively battle his state's COVID tyrants and signed on with other states fighting for election integrity. His website notes he even sued China in connection to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus.
He's also kept his Twitter account hot with America First–sounding tweets. A July 5 video tweet shows him brandishing a blow torch while declaring, "Missourians want a fighter in the Senate, and I'm taking a blow torch to Biden's socialist agenda."
Missouri Republicans are eager to keep Blunt's Senate seat on the Republican side. And that is a likely outcome. But the question is, What kind of Republican will he or she be?