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Eric Greitens wants a comeback in Missouri. It could scramble the GOP's Senate map

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Eric Greitens
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in Washington on May 17, 2018.Jeff Roberson / AP file

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump paid little to no political price for the sex scandals, investigations and legal jeopardy that always surrounded him — at least until the end, when his party lost the White House and control of the U.S. Senate.

But does that apply to other Republican politicians?

We’re about to find out with former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ announcement that he’s running for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

Greitens resigned his governorship in 2018 amid sexual misconduct and campaign-finance allegations, NBC’s Ben Kamisar writes.

More from Kamisar: “A woman who Greitens subsequently admitted to having an extramarital affair with accused him of taking a nude photograph of her without her consent, and told state House investigators that he assaulted her. Prosecutors initially charged him with a felony invasion-of-privacy charge related to the episode, but that charge was dropped.”

On Fox News announcing his Senate bid, Greitens said he was exonerated after dropped charges and after a state ethics committee concluded that his campaign — but not Greitens himself — committed campaign-finance violations.

Greitens told Fox he resigned from office for his family, because “it was what I needed to do for the people who I love the most.”

Still, Greitens’ Senate candidacy is risky business for a Republican Party that’s seeking to win back the Senate with a challenging map and — so far — five announced Senate GOP retirements.

If he’s the nominee, Republicans will have decide whether to embrace someone with this kind of record.

(U.S. Reps. Ann Wagner, Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long are other potential GOP candidates to run for Blunt’s seat.)

We remember when Roy Moore lost a Senate seat in Alabama (a state Trump won by 25 points in 2020), and when Kris Kobach lost the gubernatorial race in Kansas (a state Trump won by 15 points).

Candidates matter.

Donald Trump, as the saying goes, could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it.

But what about Eric Greitens?

Meet the GOP’s potential — and Trump-infused — Senate 2022 class

Greitens wasn’t the only Republican who announced a Senate bid on Monday.

So did Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala. – for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

Brooks, of course, spoke at that Jan. 6 rally, saying, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” (Brooks later said the context of his remarks was on the 2022 and 2024 elections, not about the violence that would later take place at the Capitol.)

Brooks. Greitens. Josh Mandel or Jane Timken in Ohio. Meet the Republican Party’s potential — and Trump-infused — 2022 Senate class.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

51 percent: The share of Republicans who now say they support gay and lesbian couples marrying legally in a new PRRI poll, the first time the survey has found a majority of Republicans in support.

67 percent: The share of Americans overall who support same-sex marriage.

$3 trillion: The reported price tag for President Biden’s big infrastructure/climate proposal.

More than 200,000: The number of people who have used a special enrollment period to sign up for Obamacare.

At least 30: The number of countries that have not yet vaccinated a single person.

29,998,618: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 55,033 more than yesterday morning.)

545,506: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 658 more than yesterday morning.)

126,509,736: Number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

12.8 percent: The share of Americans who are fully vaccinated.

37: The number of days left for Biden to reach his 100-day vaccination goal.

Senate confirms Biden’s pick for Labor secretary

By a 68-29 vote on Monday, the Senate confirmed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be President Biden’s Labor secretary, per NBC’s Frank Thorp.

Biden Cabinet Watch

State: Tony Blinken (confirmed)

Treasury: Janet Yellen (confirmed)

Defense: Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin (confirmed)

Attorney General: Merrick Garland (confirmed)

Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas (confirmed)

HHS: Xavier Becerra (confirmed)

Agriculture: Tom Vilsack (confirmed)

Transportation: Pete Buttigieg (confirmed)

Energy: Jennifer Granholm (confirmed)

Interior: Deb Haaland (confirmed)

Education: Miguel Cardona (confirmed)

Commerce: Gina Raimondo (confirmed)

Labor: Marty Walsh (confirmed)

HUD: Marcia Fudge (confirmed)

Veterans Affairs: Denis McDonough (confirmed)

UN Ambassador: Linda Thomas-Greenfield (confirmed)

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines (confirmed)

EPA: Michael Regan (confirmed)

SBA: Isabel Guzman

And the number of the week is … 3,143

Get ready for a super deep dive into some county-level numbers, over at The Chuck Toddcast.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s the latest on how some Democrats are worried about their own party’s efforts to overturn an Iowa House race.

A veteran Navy SEAL is weighing a challenge to Raphael Warnock in Georgia.

First Lady Jill Biden was expected to be involved in the effort to reunify migrant children with their parents. So far, that’s not happening.