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Eric Greitens celebrates with supporters after his victory in the Aug. 2 primary. Photo: Greitens campaign

ELECTION COMMENTARY: Eric Greitens must apologize and come clean

Eric Greitens, if you want to win the trust of Christian and conservative voters, “EARN IT.”

In the Republican primary for Missouri governor on August 2nd, Eric Greitens won a four-way primary by a convincing margin, garnering 236,250 votes. One of his campaign slogans on some of his signs reads, “EARN IT.”

Greitens outpaced the second-place finisher, John Brunner, by a margin of nearly 10%. As the Republican nominee celebrates his victory, he would be wise to consider that of 683,523 votes cast in the Republican primary, 447,273 voted for the other guys and gal−Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, John Brunner and Catherine Hanaway.

A testing of the Republican primary waters less than 48 hours after the polls closed shows a broad coalition of Never Greitens voters. Many say they will even vote for the Democrat nominee, Attorney General Chris Koster, or not vote at all on that portion of the November ballot.

Koster was a pro-life Republican state senator before switching his party affiliation to Democrat to run for Attorney General eight years ago. Koster said at the time that part of his reason for leaving the Republican Party was their opposition to embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). His floor debate back then on the Senate floor with former state senator, Matt Bartle−an opponent of ESCR−was considered epic in the annals of floor debates in the Missouri Senate.

In this upcoming election for governor, Koster can’t easily play the party switch card on Greitens, who was a lifelong Democrat shortly before running for governor as a Republican. Koster can point to his eight years as a Democrat convert, while Greitens arguably has a Democrat-friendly past as recently as one to two years before he announced his candidacy as a Republican.

While Koster has forsaken some pro-life positions, as governor, he would be unable to block veto-overrides with veto-proof pro-life majorities in the Missouri House and Senate. At the same time, many pro-life voters will not vote for Koster if he continues to espouse pro-choice positions on life issues.

As it stands today, with so many questions and objections to Greiten’s candidacy because of his liberal past, masses of Republicans will either not vote for him or vote for Koster. Unless Greitens can earn their trust, he will not have the votes to win November 8.

According to a story at themissouritimes.com, Don Hinkle, Public Policy Advisor for the Missouri Baptist Convention−representing over 2000 Southern Baptist churches in Missouri−and Editor of The Pathway, said in a post-election Facebook post, “I think much of the Republican base will be like me and simply skip voting in the gubernatorial race.”

Commander Greitens, whether you realize it or not, you have a huge gap with Christian voters−evangelicals and Catholics−over your unresponsiveness to MRL, saying you are pro-life, while taking six-figures in support from proponents of embryonic stem cell research.

You also have a gap with the majority of conservative Republican primary voters who question the sincerity of your party switch to becoming, as Dr. Ben Carson put it, “conservative to the core.” With the broader population of conservative voters, your challenge is to capture a game-changing portion of the nearly 65 percent that did not vote for you in the primary.

As one of the nation’s largest Christian newspapers, and representing over 100,000 Christian readers of our print edition and viewers online, our editorial board encourages you to do the following to seek and earn the trust and vote of conservative Christian voters in Missouri.

  1. Return the $1 million donation you accepted from the California-based venture capitalist and alleged sex offender. According to multiple national news reports, he allegedly physically and sexually abused a woman during a 13 year relationship−before contributing $1 million to your campaign. You will not have credibility with enough conservative voters to win if you do not return the money and your opponents will exploit it. As it stands now, the 35 percent that voted for you will not deliver a victory in November. Without doing the right thing, you may have less than 35 percent voting for you in November. Too many of the 447,273 who did not vote for you August 2 will not vote for you on November 8 unless you distance yourself from that dirty money.
  1. Complete the survey that Missouri Right to Life (MRL) will send you as they consider endorsements for the general election. When you have accepted six-figures in contributions from a prominent supporter of embryonic stem cell research, to say you are pro-life and oppose embryonic stem cell research is not enough. You need to answer the questions on the MRL survey. If that constituency stays home or skips the gubernatorial portion of the ballot November 8, you will lose.
  1. You will need to be prepared to defend and explain why you opposed SJR 39, the Religious Liberties Amendment legislation, when all three of your conservative opponents supported SJR 39. Your position is at odds with the majority of Christian conservatives−both Catholic and Protestant−that you will need to win.
  1. You need to assure Christian conservative voters of the sincerity of your recent conversion from being a liberal to becoming a conservative. Our readers, online viewers and Christian conservatives throughout the state deserve an explanation of your five visits to the Obama White House, attending the Democratic National Convention in 2008, considering running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate against Roy Blunt in 2010 and endorsing pro gun control Democrat Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis in 2013.
  1. You need to explain why former Missouri Governor, Bob Holden−a Democrat−was quoted as saying you surmised that you could not beat Koster in a Democratic primary and that you calculated the only way to become governor was to run as a Republican. Why should Republicans think that you are not simply using them?
  1. Please respond to why fellow Navy SEALs who oppose your candidacy say you have bought and reserved website address URLs of greitensforcongress, greitensforsenate and greitensforpresident, that are indeed taken. Why should Missourians not assume you might just be using our state in a politically opportunistic way as a stepping stone to ambitions for higher offices?
  1. We honor your service to our country, Commander Greitens, and your founding of The Mission Continues to serve returning Veterans is very admirable. Your candidacy has relied heavily on your self-identification as a former Navy SEAL. Multiple fellow former SEALs oppose your candidacy, saying you have exaggerated and misrepresented some aspects of your military service. You said those SEALs allegations are false. Missourians voting to elect our next governor deserve the truth. We are offering to co-host a forum in which you and those SEALs can address your mutual concerns toward each other.
  1. Eric, your phone call on November 14, 2015 with your former primary opponent, John Brunner, that has been widely reported in the press and on radio is indefensible. Your treatment of him in that phone conversation was appalling. As we wrote in our commentary online HERE, your attacks on Brunner−a former Marine that is old enough to be your father−were inexcusable. We would challenge any listener to that audio to disagree with our conclusions. We call upon you to apologize publicly to John Brunner and the people of Missouri. If you do not, that phone call will continue to dog your campaign and your credibility as a candidate for governor.

Given that we have covered the above issues in detail in our print edition and online at metrovoicenews.com, we invite you to respond to the above questions and issues we have raised by submitting a guest commentary to our publication for printing in our October election edition and for posting online sooner.

–By the Editorial Board of the Metro Voice Newspapers