JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – For several months now, former U.S. Navy SEAL Eric Greitens has done many of the things one might expect a guy running for governor to do: He has traveled the state, met with consultants and activists, and begun to build a campaign war-chest.
That campaign war-chest, however, was being filled under the guise of an exploratory campaign for “statewide office.” But this week, Greitens amended his filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission to indicate that the “exploring” of other statewide offices is done – he has focused his interest on the Governor’s Mansion.
The Greitens campaign-in-waiting mailed the paperwork to the commission on Wednesday, a Republican with knowledge of the campaign said on Thursday.
Greitens’ official interest in the race came around the same time that John Brunner – another St. Louis businessman who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary in 2012 – launched his own exploratory committee for governor.
Both candidates lend Republicans here an opportunity to sway from the leading candidate in the race, former federal prosecutor and Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway. Some in the party have expressed unease with her candidacy following the politically tinged suicide of her former primary opponent, Tom Schweich.
Brunner is perhaps the most close to the Schweich apparatus. After a meeting on Monday, Brunner has now met twice with a group of former Schweich supporters seeking their own candidate to back.
While Hanaway is backed heavily by St. Louis billionaire Rex Sinquefield, Brunner has the means to fund much of his own campaign (he did so in 2012). They have used many of the state’s traditional Republican donors (Hanaway, for example, reported a $25,000 contribution from businessman Stan Herzog on Friday).
For his part, Greitens has shown an early ability to raise large sums of campaign cash from a non-traditional base of donors, many of whom from outside the state. Since he began exploring a run for statewide office, Greitens has raised $454,500, including $50,000 he contributed to his own campaign.