Democrats are launching attack ads against a Republican candidate who served as a Navy SEAL to tilt the scales in the Missouri gubernatorial primary.
Jobs and Opportunity, a 527 group that received more than $3 million from the Democratic Governors Association in 2014, will spend more than $500,000 on television and radio ads to attack retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, who is one of four Republicans vying to succeed outgoing Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.
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The ad criticizes Greitens for accepting $1 million from Michael Goguen, a tech investor who was accused by a former mistress of rape in a civil suit. Goguen said the longterm relationship with the stripper was consensual. In March, he filed a countersuit accusing her of extortion citing communications in which she threatened to ruin him if he did not pay her $40 million dollars.
Other Republican opponents used Goguen’s donation to attack Greitens at a March debate.
"While others returned his money, Greitens said he was ‘honored’ to take his money," the female narrator says. "Eric Greitens, he’s not who he says he is."
Greitens fired back at the Democratic Party for running interference in the race during a Friday protest outside of the party’s headquarters in the state. He said the ad demonstrates he is the candidate that the Democratic candidate, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, fears most.
"They know that the only chance they have to win in November is to interfere in this Republican primary and try to stop us now," Greitens said outside of the state Democratic headquarters. "Chris Koster is a weak, failed, corrupt career politician who has turned Missouri into a state known for serial corruption, epic failure, and national embarrassment."
Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock called the tactic "dishonest."
"The Democrats clearly have no confidence in Chris Koster’s ability to win on his own merits," Hancock said in a statement. "Instead of campaigning honestly, national Democrats are making a desperate, last-ditch effort to manipulate the Republican primary, just like they did in 2012."
Democrats have used a similar strategy in the past with success. Democratic party boosters aided U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s campaign with attack ads designed to help him secure the Republican Senate nomination over a crowded field in 2012. Akin went on to lose to Sen. Claire McCaskill despite her soft poll numbers before the primaries. McCaskill later penned an op-ed titled, "How I Helped Todd Akin Win—So I Could Beat Him Later."
"As it turned out, we spent more money for Todd Akin in the last two weeks of the primary than he spent on his whole primary campaign," McCaskill wrote in 2015. "If we were going to spend that kind of money on ads for Akin, I wanted to get him nominated and start disqualifying him with independent voters at the same time."
The DGA, which is the sole disclosed donor to Jobs and Opportunity in 2016 thus far, did not return a request for comment.
The Missouri primary will be held on Tuesday, August 2.
Update: The story has been updated to include Goguen's countersuit.