Rep. Billy Long of Missouri likes to spotlight that he stands with former President Trump. Long, a former auctioneer and radio show host, on Tuesday formally joined a crowded field of Republicans running in the 2022 race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt.

“Trump knows me, I know Trump, and he knows I was with him from Day 1,” he told a crowd of activists at a party fundraising dinner in his district in southwest Missouri in April. A few weeks later he held a fundraising event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

And Fox News confirmed a Politico report that the congressman met on Tuesday with the former president at Trump Tower in New York City. That encounter came hours before a recorded interview Long did Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, where the five-term representative officially announced his campaign and once again spotlighted his support and loyalty for Trump.

Long, 65, joins a packed roster of nine contenders for the GOP nomination that includes former Gov. Eric Greitens – who left office in 2018 amid multiple controversies, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Rep.

Vicky Hartzler in Missouri’s 4th Congressional District, in the west-central part of the state, and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis attorney who along with his wife grabbed national headlines during the summer of 2020 for holding guns outside their home to warn off Black Lives Matter protesters.