Long: Trump endorsement will play big part in Blunt’s Senate replacement

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 7:21 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The man who replaced Roy Blunt in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 is now seeking to replace Blunt again as he retires from the U.S. Senate.

“I hope people view me as an underdog. I don’t think I am,” said Billy Long on Thursday in his first day back in Springfield since making his announcement on a national cable T.V. show on Tuesday night.

Long certainly faces a challenge from an already crowded field in the Republican race to replace U.S. Senator Roy Blunt in 2022. That group includes fellow U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who has statewide recognition, and two names that are well-known for their controversial backgrounds.... Eric Greitens, who resigned as governor in 2018, and Mark McCloskey, who was recently pardoned by Governor Parson for charges related to he and his wife using guns to threaten protesters near their home during the George Floyd protests.

“I don’t run against people. I run for the position,” Long said when asked about his opponents. “I’ve run six times and only one time have I ever mentioned an opponent’s name. I don’t intend to change that now. People kind of like a straight shooter, someone who tells it like it is. I’m going to run my race three-feet at a time and we’ve got a big ‘Billy Bus’ so if you were on the ‘Trump Train’ you need to get on the ‘Billy Bus’ now.”

As to why Long is entering the fray?

“The Biden administration all have this Trump derangement syndrome,” he answered. “They want to go through there and completely undo everything that Donald Trump did. I’m fed up and I’m not having it. Politicians can tell you they’re going to stop Joe Biden from taking your guns or taking your freedoms but they’re not going to do any of that until we (Republicans) get back in control. And I’m the one that can win that Senate seat.”

A long-time auctioneer, the 65 year-old Long is an unabashed Trump supporter and met with the former president earlier this week in Manhattan to seek his support.

“It was the 26th floor, Trump Tower, him on one side of the desk and me on the other with one else in the room for 45 minutes,” Long recalled. “He said, ‘So you’re getting in with our without my endorsement?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I’d love to have your endorsement but I’m going to win this thing either way Mr. President.’”

Long has also brought in Trump’s former advisor Kellyanne Conway to help in his campaign and he admits Trump’s endorsement is crucial in a state that the former President has carried twice.

“Everyone wants Donald J. Trump’s endorsement in the state of Missouri and I tell ‘ya, when he endorses, it’s over,” Long said. “It’s effectively over. He has a 93 percent approval rating among Republican primary voters and this race is going to be decided by them. I’ve had personal friends who’ve said, ‘I wish you weren’t so close to Trump’ but it doesn’t bother me at all. Either you appreciate what he did for this country or you don’t. And I appreciate what he did for this country.”

There are many people, including Republicans, who aren’t happy about what Trump did to the country including grabbing control of the Republican party and changing its image.

Long said it comes down to who has the power to get things done.

“These anti-Trump, never-Trump people are used to losing elections and they’re happy with that,” Long said. “You lose an election and you end up with defunding the police, you end up with an open-border policy. People say that Trump had mean tweets. A lot of people would trade some mean tweets right now for having their country back.”

Long is not allowed to run for re-election for his current congressional seat now that he’s seeking the Senate.

So when asked if he’ll endorse a successor, Long replied with his wry sense of humor still intact.

“No, no, I don’t have a death wish.”

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