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Republicans Fear Flawed Candidates Could Imperil Key Senate Seats

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“His claim to have been totally exonerated is a fraud and misrepresentation of the facts,’’ said Peter Kinder, a former Republican lieutenant governor. “An overwhelmingly Republican Legislature was prepared to impeach him and was within days of doing that.’’

Mr. Greitens has both grass-roots supporters and high-profile enemies in the Missouri G.O.P., including Mr. Kinder, who lost to him in a 2016 primary for governor, and Mr. Hawley.

After Mr. Blount this month announced his plans to retire, Mr. Trump called Mr. Hawley to ask about whom he should support, according to a person familiar with the conversation. They agreed to stay in touch as the field develops, and Mr. Hawley could be expected to steer Mr. Trump away from the former governor.

In an argumentative interview on Wednesday with the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Mr. Greitens said the Missouri House’s 24-page report about him had been “discredited,’’ but he would not say how. He claimed, without evidence, that his accuser, two of her friends and her former husband, all of whom testified under oath, were “lying.’’

“Why did you quit?’’ Mr. Hewitt asked Mr. Greitens, referring to his resignation. “SEALs don’t quit.”

In Alabama, the fear of some Republicans about a lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Brooks, the most high-profile candidate in an emerging field, traces to the lacerating sting of 2017, when the Democrat Doug Jones won a Senate seat after G.O.P. voters failed to show up to support the party’s nominee, the scandal-plagued Roy Moore.

Mr. Brooks, a six-term congressman from northern Alabama, was one of the first Republicans to announce that he would object to the Electoral College certifying President Biden’s victory. He faced calls for censure from Democrats after an incendiary speech he made at the pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6 before the riot at the Capitol. In announcing his candidacy on Monday, he aired once again his and Mr. Trump’s false accounts of the election. “In 2020, we had the worst voter fraud and election theft in history,” he said. Few individual cases and no evidence of widespread fraud have been confirmed.

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