Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary

Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary
© Greg Nash

Missouri Rep. Billy LongWilliam (Billy) H. LongEmboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes Republicans hit Biden over Afghanistan, with eye on midterms McCarthy: 'There will be a day of reckoning' for Biden MORE is jumping into the GOP primary in the Show Me State’s open Senate race, adding another contender to the already crowded primary field. 

Long, a former auctioneer and radio show host who won his seat in 2010, announced his long-expected candidacy on Fox News’s “Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonStefanik in ad says Democrats want 'permanent election insurrection' Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right 90 percent of full-time Fox Corp. employees say they're fully vaccinated: executive MORE Tonight,” calling it “the worst kept secret in Missouri politics.” 

“I’m entering the race for United States Senate,” he declared.

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Long, a staunch conservative, is looking to tie himself closely to former President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE, who even out of office remains wildly popular with the GOP grassroots. The Missouri Republican met with Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon, a source familiar with the meeting confirmed to The Hill.

Politico was the first to report on the meeting.

Long is running for the chance to replace retiring Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMissouri official asks court to suspend McCloskeys' law licenses GOP hopes spending traps derail Biden agenda A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate MORE (R), whose old House seat Long currently holds.

The House member is just the latest Republican to jump into the fray, following former Gov. Eric Greitens, Rep. Vicky HartzlerVicky Jo HartzlerAfter messy Afghanistan withdrawal, questions remain House panel backs making women register for draft Republicans hit Biden over Afghanistan, with eye on midterms MORE, attorney Mark McCloskey and state Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Neither Trump nor Blunt has made any endorsement in the primary.

The ultimate winner of the nominating contest is expected to be the favorite in the general election in 2022. Missouri, once a swing state, has shifted rapidly to the right, handing Trump a 15-point victory in 2020.

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However, Republicans have expressed concern that Greitens, who resigned in 2018 over allegations he sexually assaulted and blackmailed a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair, could throw Blunt’s seat into jeopardy. Those concerns have only been heightened by the 50-50 split in the Senate, which means that any one race could determine which party holds the majority.

Observers have speculated that Greitens’s chances will increase as more establishment-oriented candidates jump into the primary and divide support among themselves.

However, Long cast himself as an electable contender while knocking Greitens over his baggage.

“We need to get the Senate back, you’re not going to get anything until you get the Senate back, and I’m the guy that can win that Senate seat in Missouri and make sure that we don’t have a big race there,” Long said on Fox News.