A month ago, the Missouri GOP was way ahead in Senate polls. Then their governor got charged with multiple felonies, sparked a party civil war, and blew everything up.
Republicans' political fortunes have taken a turn in Missouri. GOP officials in the state are panicking over the fiasco surrounding Gov. Eric Greitens. And polls show their commanding lead over Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri's U.S. Senate race has reversed.
Speaking to Politico, Missouri Republican consultant James Harris moaned "all that's coming out in Missouri is about the scandals," while former Missouri GOP chairman John Hancock said if Greitens stays in the news, "I think it will have a potentially debilitating effect on the Senate race."
In mid-March, one poll found the likely nominee, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, beating McCaskill 52 to 44, despite controversy around his remarks about women. Now, the latest numbers show McCaskill up 48 to 44 over Hawley.
Greitens has completely dominated the political news in Missouri since he was indicted on felony invasion of privacy and computer tampering charges, in connection with an alleged sexual assault incident and misuse of a veterans' charity.
Some Republicans in the state are calling on Greitens to resign, including Hawley himself. But Greitens flatly refuses, and has sneered that Hawley — who has run much of the investigation into the scandals — is "better at press conferences than the law."
And as if all that were not enough, Hawley is hardly innocent in all this.
For all Hawley's recent denunciations of Greitens, his office could have investigated some of the allegations much earlier. Missouri Democratic Party chairman Stephen Webber noted that the allegations Greitens was first accused of stealing nonprofit data for political purposes in 2016, and that Hawley "decided to protect a political ally until the very last minute."
The upshot is that Missouri's Governor is accused of serious crimes, is dragging down his party's brand, and is throwing his party's Senate candidate under the bus exactly as that same candidate faces questions over how he has handled Gov. Greitens.
It is no wonder that Missouri Republicans are worried they are about to blow it.