Republicans despair at ‘clown show’ primary candidates for Missouri Senate seat
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (CNN screenshot)

A wide-open Republican primary for the retiring Sen. Roy Blunt's seat in the U.S. Senate has attracted a melange of conservative characters, but GOP insiders are worried about their chances to win the general election.

Disgraced former governor Eric Greitens has eked out a lead in the polls at about 35 percent support, ahead of state attorney general Eric Schmitt, Rep. Billy Long, Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis lawyer who was photographed with his wife pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters, and Donald Trump ally Rep. Jason Smith is also considering a run, reported Politico.

"To call it a clown show is an underestimation of the chaos, the pandering, the disingenuousness of the candidates," said one longtime Missouri Republican activist. "You cannot overestimate how bizarre this primary is shaping up to be. In that world, who says McCloskey can't win?"

Whoever wins the primary will run in an increasingly red state that Trump won by 15 points last year, and hardline conservative Josh Hawley defeated moderate Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill by nearly 6 points in 2018, where Greitens resigned as governor over sexual assault allegations, and many state Republicans distrust his new rebranding as a MAGA warrior.

"Heaven forbid Eric Greitens ever did get into the United States Senate," said political strategist Gregg Keller, who briefly served as an adviser to Hawley's first campaign.