Missouri Senate race: Billy Long lashes out at Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz backs Eric Schmitt, PAC endorses Vicky Hartzler

Endorsements are beginning to trickle into the race for Missouri's U.S. Senate seat as the competitive Republican primary heats up.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley's official support of U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, announced last weekend, prompted frustration from U.S. Rep. Billy Long, who in two interviews Tuesday said Hawley lied to him about the endorsement.

In an interview on KCMO Talk Radio and later in a call to Politico, Long said in recent weeks he'd spoken to Hawley, who had told him he was not close to endorsing in the race. Springfield's congressman also said that he was disappointed in Missouri's junior senator.

"I’d always considered us to be friends, I’d always supported him, I think a lot of him and his wife and his kids still," Long told Politico. "But it’s just disappointing, it's very disappointing. Why didn’t he just say, ‘Hey, you’re not raising the money, you’re down in the polls, we need to consolidate, Billy I’m probably going to endorse Hartzler here pretty soon … I just wish he’d shot straight with me.”

More: YouTube removes Billy Long's campaign ad promoting election misinformation

Long also said he was not planning on dropping out of the race.

A frequent user of Twitter, Long has posted several times in recent days about Hawley and Hartzler. He criticized both of their camps for selling merchandise not made in the United States, and pointed to Hartzler's previous vote on "The Great American Outdoors Act."

"PS I voted for it if you're taking notes," Long wrote.

Hawley's endorsement is among the most significant yet; former President Donald Trump, despite having met with several of the Republican candidates, has not yet endorsed any of them.

Texas' Ted Cruz backs Eric Schmitt

Another prominent Republican senator has weighed in on the race, with Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz announcing Wednesday he was endorsing Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

"Eric is a fighter who will hold China accountable, defend religious freedom, take on Big Tech, and he will protect American jobs,” Cruz said in a statement.

Cruz and Schmitt share the same consulting firm, Axiom Strategies, headed by Kansas City's Jeff Roe.

Vicky Hartzler earns PAC support

Days after Hawley's endorsement, Hartzler also got the backing of a new super PAC, Secure Our Freedom Action Fund.

More: Josh Hawley endorses Vicky Hartzler for Missouri's open U.S. Senate seat

The group is overseen by longtime National Rifle Association strategists Chris Cox and David Lehman, Politico reported, and backed Hartzler alongside Alabama Republican Rep. Katie Britt. It plans to announce "additional endorsements" in the future.

Democrats to hold virtual forum Wednesday night

The Southwest Missouri Democrats are hosting a virtual forum for a number of candidates Wednesday evening.

Scott Sifton, Jewel Kelly, Spencer Toder, Gena Ross, MD Rabbi Alam and Timothy Shepard will be part of the forum, which will take place on Zoom and on Southwest Missouri Democrats' Facebook page.

Galen Bacharier covers Missouri politics & government for the News-Leader. Contact him at gbacharier@news-leader.com, (573) 219-7440 or on Twitter @galenbacharier.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: MO Senate race: Long criticizes Hawley, Cruz backs Schmitt and more