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Congressman Billy Long touts himself as sure thing for Republican Senate primary voters

U.S. Rep. Billy Long speaks to a ballroom of people in St. Charles about why he should be Missouri's next senator at the state GOP's annual Lincoln Days on Feb. 12, 2022.
Eric Schmid
St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Billy Long speaks in St. Charles about why he should be Missouri's next senator at the state GOP's annual Lincoln Days on Feb. 12. U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and attorney Mark McCloskey also attended the candidate forum.

If Missouri GOP voters select U.S. Rep. Billy Long as their Senate nominee, he’s promising a minimum amount of drama in the November election.

That’s part of the sales pitch the 7th District congressman from Springfield is giving Missourians in the Aug. 2 primary. Long said he has the voting record and the ties to former President Donald Trump to make conservatives proud.

“I think I’m the one who can win this race in the general election without a lot of big pushback from the Democrats,” Long said on an episode of Politically Speaking. “I think if we elect Eric Greitens, the party has told us we’ll have to spend $40 million to $50 million trying to drag him across the finish line.”

Long’s reference to the former Missouri governor revolves around how he’s evoked controversy for a host of reasons — including his personal conduct and how he’s dealt with his campaign finances. Greitens recently sparked a firestorm with a "RINO hunting" ad that Long finds distasteful.

“If you want to beat RINOs, you beat them at the ballot box. To say that you’re going to go hunting RINOs is beyond the pale in my opinion,” Long said. “But like I said, this is politics 2022 style. And all the earned media is great whether they’re saying good things or bad things about you, I suppose.”

Greitens has said the ad is a metaphor for how he’ll fight against members of his own party if they don’t showcase a commitment to conservative policies.

On the campaign trail, Long has stressed his early support for Trump’s 2016 campaign — noting that he was for the former president when many of his Republican contemporaries were backing other candidates. He doesn’t know if Trump will endorse anyone in the Missouri Senate contest.

Long has made the argument that other major candidates in the race — U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Attorney General Eric Schmitt — don’t have conservative credentials, even if they have more money in the bank than he does.

“Schmitt and Hartzler have all the money in the world, all these big donors behind them and all these huge people, and they have not been able to break out in this race,” Long said. “They’re both stuck down in the polls.”

Slams Capitol riot hearings

Like other GOP candidates in the Senate race, Long has been critical of a House committee conducting public hearings into the insurrection that occurred in January 2021. He said the committee is stacked against Republicans, adding it was unfair for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bounce two GOP choices, U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, from the committee.

Currently, Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger serve on the committee.

“The only Republicans they wanted to put on, they booted off,” Long said. “They picked two Trump-hating Republicans to put on there. So I have a lot of issues with the committee and how it was set up. We’ve got all sorts of problems in this country without having a sham committee.”

Long voted against certifying Arizona and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes but noted that he attended President Joe Biden’s inauguration and added that the Democrat won the election.

But Long said he has issues with how the 2020 election was conducted, namely that there was an expansion of absentee and early voting because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These election laws, which as you know are supposed to be determined by the representatives in those states … several states didn’t do that. They let the courts and elected officials do that on their own,” Long said. “And so if there's a question about how he won, if it wasn’t for COVID Trump would have still been elected.”

Not a fan of gas tax holiday

Long has been critical of almost all of Biden’s policies, including a recent proposal to suspend the federal gas tax as a way to provide relief for consumers dealing with high gas prices.

He said such a move “is putting a Band-Aid on the problem.”

“The whole thing behind this is as clear as the nose on your face,” Long said. “The day that Biden got sworn in, he immediately stopped the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Had Biden not axed the pipeline,it likely wouldn’t have been completed until 2023 at the earliest. Asked whether that project would have had any effect on gas prices now, Long said: “Well, it would have helped in 2023. If there’s word coming that there’s going to be more oil and everything, the price goes down.”

‘No’ on Ukraine funding and bipartisan gun bill

Long said he will not be voting for bipartisan legislation that, among other things, increases funding for mental health services and provides money to states with so-called red flag laws that seek to disarm people who are a danger to themselves or others.

He said the red flag law provision is particularly concerning, adding that “people in Missouri are very, very concerned about losing our Second Amendment rights.” The legislation would not require Missouri to adopt red flag laws.

“My biggest problem with one of these red flag laws is I always see the face of one of my colleagues that went through a horrendous divorce and an abusive situation several years ago,” Long said. “And any time red flag laws are brought up, she claims that they could have taken her gun away from her at that point — which was the only thing that kept her from meeting her demise.”

Long suggested that some of the ideas in the legislation should have been passed in individual bills.

“Why didn’t they put this in pieces where we could vote for some of it and pass some of it instead of putting in a third rail for most people in Missouri?” Long said.

Long also explained why he voted against a $40 billion aid package to support Ukraine in its war against Russia. He asked, “How far would $40 billion have gone in this country to fortify our schools to protect our schoolchildren or finish the (Mexican border) wall?”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Sarah Kellogg on Twitter: @sarahkkellogg 

Follow Billy Long on Twitter: @auctnr1

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.