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Image: Vicky Hartzler
Vicky Hartzler leaves the House Republican Conference caucus meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on April 27, 2022.Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call via AP file

Vicky Hartzler takes aim at top two rivals ahead of Missouri Senate primary

A new ad from the GOP Senate candidate seeks to make opponents "Eric and Eric" into one and the same.


Rep. Vicky Hartzler, one of the top Missouri Republican candidates in its closely contested U.S. Senate primary, began airing a new TV ad Monday attacking her two top rivals for being soft on China, a top issue in the campaign.

Called “Eric and Eric,” the 30-second spot takes aim at former Gov. Eric Greitens and state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, the former for a state visit he paid the communist country when he was governor and the former for writing legislation to make a local St. Louis airport a “China Hub” for trade.

The hits on the two Erics aren’t new; in February, political committees backing Greitens and Schmitt both leveled similar charges in dueling ads of their own that each claimed the other guy was “good for China; bad for Missouri.”

The longstanding attention to China in the race underscores the salience of the issue in conservative heartland politics, and Hartzler adviser Kyle Plotkin said it will be part of her closing message, which also seeks to make the two men into interchangeably indistinguishable rivals.

“If you want more China, vote for Eric. Either one,” Hartzler says in her ad, which transitions to b-roll footage of her standing next to Sen. Josh Hawley, the state’s most popular Republican figure who has endorsed her, as well as photograph of her shaking the hand of former President Donald Trump, who last week said he would not back her candidacy.

Hartzler, Greitens and Schmitt are now in what essentially looks like a three-way tie for the August 2 primary, according to the most recent poll of the race.