But as McConnell and other top Republicans closely watch the crowded primary fields emerge in North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Pennsylvania, there are also new concerns about the open Missouri seat caused by the retirement of GOP Sen. Roy Blunt.
The state’s scandal-ridden former GOP governor, Eric Greitens, has prompted worries among an array of Republicans in Missouri politics and in Washington, as he has been courting pro-Trump voices in the media and hinting at a potential bid.
The fear: Greitens could emerge from a crowded primary field and put at risk a safe Republican seat, much as Republican Todd Akin did when he lost to Democrat Claire McCaskill nearly a decade ago.
“There’s a lot of concern for what happened in the past,” Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Missouri Republican who is considering a run for the seat, told CNN when asked about Greitens. “So I would hope that Missouri would have someone where those issues won’t be distractions and focus on the priorities of the people of the state.”