ST. LOUIS — Perhaps Missouri’s hottest 2022 election campaign, the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Roy Blunt, got even hotter with the late entry of Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine.
Valentine is the daughter of “Gussie” Busch, the iconic former owner of the Anheuser-Busch brewery and the St. Louis Cardinals.
FOX 2 News requested an interview with Busch Valentine. She has yet to grant the request after filing to run, Monday.
Though she’s not yet doing interviews, we’ve confirmed she’s been meeting with Democrat political strategists who suddenly feel they have a chance to win a race they had nearly written off to Republicans.
“We need something different. We need a new politics,” Busch Valentine said in a campaign video announcing her candidacy. “Our politics are broken. Too often neighbors and families just stop talking to each other and the politicians in Washington continue to divide us even further.”
The video and semi-public past life offer at least a glimpse into her politics and how long she’d been planning to run.
“It was a closely guarded secret,” said Michael Kelley of FOX 2’s Sunday morning political show, Hancock and Kelley. Kelley is also the founder of Show Me Victories, a Democrat polling and consulting firm.
“She clearly had been putting some work and some effort into this because her announcement video was not something that was whipped up overnight,” Kelley said.
One of her strengths is her acknowledgment that she’s lived a life of privilege but has also chosen a life of service, Kelley said.
Busch Valentine became a nurse and later donated $4 million to the nursing school she attended at St. Louis University. The nursing school was renamed for her in 2019.
She 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.
She’s open about the loss of her husband to cancer. She is also open about the loss of her adult son, Matthew, to opioid abuse in 2020. He was one of her six children.
Though she faces a strong opponent in military veteran Lucas Kunce, in the Democrat primary, she appears to be making a run for the political “middle” and not the left.
Most Missouri families include Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. Mine sure does,” she says in the campaign video.
“There’s a desire to get new faces into the race; faces that we in political science say are more centrist,” noted William Hall, Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Webster University. “With the entrance of a candidate with name recognition and what appears to be some resources, it could very well be a game-changer.”
“She is a female,” Kelley added. “That plays to a huge advantage. She’s clearly going to be well-funded. She’s got billions of dollars worth of name identification.”
Democrats will need every advantage to win a seat that’s been held by a Republican since the retirement of Senator Thomas Eagleton, a Democrat, in 1987.