Schmitt backs Hawley for Missouri Senate bid

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt says he’s backing fellow Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley to run for Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seat.

Schmitt had expressed interest in a U.S. Senate run, but on Tuesday announced he won’t seek the Republican nomination. He had not taken any official steps to enter.

Schmitt says Republicans should unite behind Hawley, who this month opened a committee to explore a bid.

Schmitt’s announcement somewhat clears the path for Hawley. There are others seeking the Republican nomination, but Schmitt would have been the only other candidate to have won a statewide election.

Former Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen and Tony onetti, who manages the University of Central Missouri’s airport, are running as Republicans.

State Rep. Paul Curtman is among others who have expressed interest.