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St. Louis beer heiress joins race for U.S. Senate

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Busch family assumes operations of Grant's Farm

Trudy Busch Valentine, a member of the Busch family ownership group of Grant's Farm, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY — St. Louis beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine joined the heated race for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat Monday.

The move triggered former state Sen. Scott Sifton, who had represented south St. Louis County in the Legislature’s upper chamber until 2020, to exit the Democratic primary race and throw his support to the wealthy Clayton resident.

In a campaign video, Valentine recounted her childhood growing up at the iconic family estate, Grant's Farm, and highlighted her financial contributions to the nursing program at St. Louis University.

“Across Missouri our communities are strong but our politics are broken. We just need to talk to each other again,” she said. “We need something different. We need a new politics."

Valentine is the daughter of the late Anheuser-Busch beer baron August “Gussie” Busch Jr., who died in 1989. Her mother, Gertrude “Trudy” Busch, was Busch’s third wife.

She has been a major fundraiser for Democratic candidates. In 2016, she held a fundraiser at Grant’s Farm, the historic homestead of the Busch family, for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The 2016 event was organized by Joyce Aboussie, a longtime Democratic operative. In addition to Sifton, guests included former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, former Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, and former St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.

In addition to contributing more than $37,000 to campaign accounts supporting Clinton, federal campaign records show Valentine has written checks to U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat.

In the video, Valentine also talked of tragedy. Her husband, John, died of cancer at age 49. In 2020, her son, Matt, died of an opioid overdose.

"Matt’s death brought so much sadness but it also reignited the passion in me to make a positive difference for others, this time on a larger scale,” Valentine said.

With filing to close Tuesday, there are at least 10 Democrats running for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Roy Blunt, including Jefferson City native Lucas Kunce.

In statement Monday evening, Sifton said he was throwing his support to Valentine.

“I’m proud of the race we ran. We traveled to each of Missouri’s 114 counties and saw more Missourians contribute to our cause than did any other candidate running on either side of the aisle — by a wide margin,” Sifton said. “A poll just two weeks ago showed me dead even with Republican front-runner Eric Greitens.”

Sifton said the party needs to be united behind beating Greitens, who left office amid a scandal and was accused last week of mental and physical abuse by his ex-wife, Sheena Greitens.

Sifton praised Valentine.

“I have seen her in action working on issues in the community and know she will do right by Missourians. I am excited to see what she can do for our state in the Senate, and call on all other Democrats in the field to lend her their support,” Sifton said.

Along with Greitens, others seeking the GOP nomination include Attorney General Eric Schmitt, St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey, U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long and state Senate President Dave Schatz.

In 2019, Valentine contributed $4 million to St. Louis University to support its nursing school, which is now named after her.

Valentine graduated from the nursing school in 1980.

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