ST. LOUIS – Busch family heiress Trudy Busch Valentine is wading into politics and seeking public office for the first time. She’s running to fill Roy Blunt’s seat in the U.S. Senate after Blunt’s retirement.
Busch Valentine is seeking to break the Republican stranglehold in Missouri. Blunt’s seat has been held by a Republican since the retirement of Senator Thomas Eagleton, a Democrat, in 1987. She’s running against current Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
She is the daughter of August “Gussie” Busch Jr., who grew the Anheuser-Busch company into one of the largest breweries in the world and the former owner of the St. Louis Cardinals.
This past August, she won the Democratic primary, defeating Marine veteran Lucas Kunce by a margin of 43% to 38%.
During the primary, Busch Valentine responded to ads questioning her past involvement with the Veiled Prophet organization. She was crowned Queen of Love and Beauty at the 1977 Veiled Prophet Ball, when she was 20. The secret society was formed in the late 1800s and made up of wealthy, all-white St. Louisans. In a statement, Busch Valentine apologized for her involvement in the ball, saying she “should have known better” and that healing America’s racial divide means acknowledgment of past shortcomings.
Busch Valentine received criticism during the primary for not participating in a debate against Kunce. Her opponent in the general election, Schmitt, continued the opprobrium, accusing Busch Valentine of dodging him. However, she appeared in the Missouri Press Association’s Sept. 16 debate, alongside Libertarian Party candidate Jonathan Dine and Constitution Party candidate Paul Venable. Schmitt did not attend that event.
The tent pole issues of her campaign—fighting the opioid epidemic, improving healthcare access, and advocating for women’s rights—can be traced to events in her own life.
Busch Valentine graduated from Saint Louis University in 1980 with a degree in nursing and went on to work at the Salvation Army Residence for Children. In Aug. 2019, SLU renamed its nursing school after her in recognition of a $4 million donation. In 2007, Busch Valentine earned a Master of Arts in pastoral studies from the Aquinas Institute of Theology.
She’s been open about the loss of her husband, John Valentine, to cancer when he was 49, leaving her to raise six children. She lost her oldest son, Matthew, to opioid abuse in 2020.
In Dec. 2017, Busch Valentine joined her siblings in the legal fight to retain Busch family control over historic Grant’s Farm, keeping the family’s landmark estate and animal refuge open to the public.
According to a July 2022 report from the Missouri Independent, Busch Valentine has a net worth of $215 million, which would make her the wealthiest member of the Senate if elected. She has pledged not to take the $174,000 annual salary for U.S. Senators.