Eric Greitens in Catawissa

Former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens greets supporters following a campaign rally held outside of Catawissa, in rural Franklin County on July 10. The event was moved from its original venue in Robertsville due to rain. Greitens is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Roy Blunt, who is retiring. 

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens brought his campaign for the U.S. Senate to rural Franklin County on Saturday, stopping at a farm between Robertsville and Catawissa.

Among those speaking at the rally were high profile conservatives, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik and Veterans For Trump Co-Chair Jessie Jane Duff. Other speakers included conservative media stars Mark Cox and Jamie Allman.

There were plenty of ardent Grietens supporters in the estimated crowd of 200-plus people, many of whom believe the former governor — who resigned amid controversy following revelations of an extramarital affair and accusations of political corruption — was the target of a smear campaign by members of the Republican Party, the Democratic Party and other influential figures in the state. 

Yet among members of the audience were six voters who all said in separate interviews that they were largely undecided about who they would support in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, who announced earlier this year that he was not seeking reelection.  

Amanda Fuentes, from Kansas City, said she is keeping an open mind about who she will be supporting but that she drove from her home to Greitens' rally “because I really want to hear what he has to say.”

When Greitens was elected governor in 2016, he carried Franklin County, receiving 55 percent of the vote compared with Democrat and former Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster’s 37 percent. Lester Turilli Jr., of Stanton, received nearly 5 percent of the county’s vote. 

The rally near Catawissa came on the heels of a poll of likely Republican voters that found Greitens the six-point favorite over fellow Republican candidates Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler and St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey. Greitens had 30 percent of the poll respondents’ support compared with Schmitt’s 24 percent, Hartzler’s 13 percent and McCloskey’s 10 percent. Congressman Jason Smith, who represents the Bootheel region of the state, received 9 percent of respondents’ support. He has yet to formally enter the race or rule out a run.  

Those candidates will likely have a hard time swaying Debbie Neuner, of Villa Ridge, and Chris Null, of Jefferson County. Neuner said although she is currently undecided, she sees Greitens as the clear front-runner in the race. 

“There might be a better Republican candidate out there, but I don’t think there is going to be, but maybe,” Neuner said. 

Null said he didn’t know the other candidates running. 

“Who are the other candidates? I don’t know them,” Null said, adding that he will only vote for a candidate who he feels mostly aligns with former President Trump’s political priorities related to the economy. On Saturday, he said he felt like that candidate was Greitens. 

“Hardworking people is what made America the strong country that it is,” said Null, who owns a small business in Jefferson County. “I just want to see manufacturing come back to this country. We’ve lost a lot of manufacturing jobs overseas, and it is time we bring those jobs back.”

Neuner said she hopes Greitens, if elected, will continue to investigate the 2020 presidential election. 

“The election was rigged. Biden is not our president, and I believe that with every fiber of my being,” Neuner said. 

Other voters interviewed by The Missourian said they hoped Greitens would share his thoughts on public health measures and COVID-19 vaccinations, health insurance reforms and being a check on President Joe Biden’s agenda within the U.S. Senate. However, Greitens didn’t discuss any specific domestic policy issues he would address as a U.S. senator, focusing instead on criticizing the Democratic Party for becoming “too radical and extreme,” boasting of his support for police and law enforcement agencies, lamenting the rise of “cancel culture” in America and saying that “every Constitutional right” is under attack. 

Additionally, he pledged to “get to the bottom of the truth and dig in and investigate the (2020) election” if elected.

"We are going to fight every single day on the front lines to get to the truth,” he said.

Some voters, like Gale Griffith-Frolos, who drove with two friends from northeast Missouri to be at the rally, said their support of Greitens was solidified by his words on Saturday. 

“He is fighting for us, so this morning, I woke up and decided that I should be here to support him. ... His fight is for the American dream,” Griffith-Frolos, a former bank executive, said. “He is fighting for the American dream for all of us and our children.”

Griffith-Frolos, who has worked on Republican campaigns and served on Republican committees, said she too has heard concerns that some Republican and conservative-leaning women might be hesitant to support Greitens following the former governor's personal scandals, which involved him tying up his mistress and taking a photo of her nude body.

“I think he can do it. I think he will do it. I think he will get us all excited again,” Griffith-Frolos said. She said many will come to support Greitens because they will recognize his name and because “when he ran for statewide office, he told us what he was going to do, and then he went and did it once he was elected.”

That theme of “promises made, promises kept” echoes President Trump’s reelection campaign and was evoked by many of the speakers at Saturday’s rally. At one point, Giuliani doubled down on Greitens’ track record as governor, saying he did more for Missouri than the state's past four governors combined. That list would include current Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican; former Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat; former Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican; and former Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat. 

“We need somebody who stands up for the truth,” Giuliani said of Greitens.

“The next three years is going to determine whether we remain a free country,” he said. “If we make the right choices, we are going to come out of this stronger than we ever were before."