Republican Missouri Senate candidates Austin Petersen and Tony Monetti had both signed a grassroots unity agreement last month. It read that following the results of a joint poll, the loser would bow out of the race and fully endorse the winner. There was only one question on it: "If the Republican Party election were held today, who would you vote for?" They shook on it, according to Petersen. Now that the agreement is DOA, the two candidates are blaming the other for its demise.
"He lied," Petersen said of his opponent in an interview with Townhall.
"He lied to the reporter on the St. Louis-Dispatch article," Petersen said. "The first article he lied to the reporter and said he was not dropping out."
So, in order to ensure they could go forward "without any shenanigans," the Petersen campaign asked Mr. Monetti to come to their campaign bus before last week's debate. They shook on it on the bus, Petersen said. That is, until Monetti "left the campaign bus, came back and said no deal."
"He would refuse to honor the agreement he had already agreed to," Petersen noted. "Now, Monetti is out there saying there was no agreement."
"His signature is on a signed document," Petersen added. At this point, "he is out there spinning the story."
Townhall gave Monetti a chance to respond.
"Integrity is one of my core values," he said.
Monetti said he signed the agreement in April because he, like Petersen, wanted to defeat "the establishment candidate," Attorney General Josh Hawley. The issue, Monetti said, arose when the two candidates offered additional questions for the joint poll.
Monetti's three questions were personal in nature, relating to his opponent's religion and political past. He wanted voters to know that Petersen once ran for president as a libertarian, that he's agnostic, and that he is "open to open borders." Monetti said the Petersen campaign agreed to the questions but then told him the questions would be placed at the end of the poll and would not be answered.
Jeffrey Carson, campaign manager of the Petersen campaign, called that claim "nonsense." Those additional questions, he explained, were immaterial to the voter survey and it was clear Monetti was trying to make it a "push poll" to skew the results. The Petersen campaign had "bent over backwards" to make Monetti's team happy and had been "banging on their door" to sign an updated agreement, but "clearly they had cold feet."
Monetti, however, said he is dismayed by the political attacks, especially in light of his military experience.
"I never wanted to be a politician my whole life," he said. "I fought two wars and almost died." Now, he's being called a "chicken?"
"I'm done playing games," Monetti added.
One thing the two candidates did agree on is that the Second Amendment is one of their strongest campaign issues. Monetti mentioned that Hawley has offered way too much to the gun control lobby since the deadly Parkland shooting. For instance, he supported Trump's bump stock ban proposal.
The Missouri primary is August 7, 2018. Republicans like their chances in beating Sen. Claire McCaskill in the fall midterms, considering she's competing in a state President Trump won by 20 points.