Rep. Todd Akin (R)
Missouri 2nd District
Just as the geographic center of the U.S. population has moved west from St. Louis to rural Phelps County, so has the center of metropolitan St. Louis moved farther west from the Gateway Arch on the Mississippi River. Now the midpoint is suburban St. Louis County, established in 1876 when the city, tired of paying for dusty back roads, separated itself from the sticks. That year, there were 350,000 people in the city and 31,000 in the county. In 2007, there were 347,000 in the city and just over 1 million in St. Louis County. By the 1960s, the center of office employment moved from downtown across the county line to Clayton. Now, the focus is fast moving out along the Daniel Boone Expressway (U.S. 40) to Chesterfield.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 2nd Congressional District of Missouri consists of central and western St. Louis County, most of St. Charles County northwest across the Missouri River, and rural Lincoln County to the north. Along the expressway, in the center of St. Louis County, are long-settled suburbs: Kirkwood; most of high-income Town and Country and Ladue; fast-growing Chesterfield; and Sunset Hills to the south. They are all Republican areas, more so in newer family-oriented subdivisions than in the leafy precincts of the older enclaves. St. Charles County, where the supply of available land and affordable housing is tight, now casts more votes than the city of St. Louis and is the most Republican suburban county in Missouri. Fast-growing O’Fallon has been listed among the top 10 best places to live in the nation, according to a website of real estate professionals. Suburban Fallon is not doing quite as well. In 2009, Chrysler closed two local factories, idling 1,200 people. This conservative district voted 55% for John McCain in 2008, including 54%-45% in St. Charles County.
Rep. Todd Akin (R)
Elected: 2000, 5th term.
Born: July 5, 1947, New York, NY .
Home: Town and Country.
Education: Worcester Polytech Inst. (MA), B.S. 1971, Covenant Theological Seminary (MO), M. Div. 1985.
Family: Married (Lulli); 5 children.
Military career: Army Reserves 1972-80.
Elected office: MO House of Reps., 1988-2000.
Professional Career: Marketing mgr., IBM, 1974-78; Mgmt. dir., Laclede Steel, 1977-80.
The congressman from the 2nd District is Todd Akin, a Republican first elected in 2000. He still lives in his boyhood home, a 60-year-old farmhouse in an upscale neighborhood in Town and Country. He graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and earned a divinity degree at Covenant Seminary. After service as an Army combat engineer, he worked for IBM in the Boston area and then at Laclede Steel in Alton, Ill. The steel company was founded by his great-grandfather and his father once worked there, too. Akin was elected to the state House in 1988. An avid student and teacher of American history and the Constitution, Akin lectures at various public and private institutions. His religious beliefs are also a guiding force in his life, and Akin enjoys strumming gospel tunes on his guitar. While a state legislator, he sold standardized tests to parents who home-school their children; he and his wife home-schooled their six children. He also filed a lawsuit to stop the state’s approval of riverboat gambling but was ultimately unsuccessful.
|Todd Akin (R)||232,276||(62%)||($838,986)|
|William Haas (D)||132,068||(35%)||($52,218)|
|Thomas Knapp (Lib)||8,628||(2%)|
|Todd Akin (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (61%), 2004 (65%), 2002 (67%), 2000 (55%)
When U.S. Rep. Jim Talent, a Republican, launched his bid for governor in 1999, Akin ran for his House seat. He started off as the underdog to Gene McNary, a former Bush administration Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner, well known locally from his 15 years as St. Louis County executive. Akin called himself “a conservative with a soft edge.” He emphasized he had never voted to raise taxes and had strong support from religious conservatives. In a low-turnout, rainy-day primary, Akin rallied his committed voters to win the five-candidate contest by 56 votes over McNary. In the general election against Democratic state Sen. Ted House, Akin focused on their differences on taxes. House, whose television ads did not identify himself as a Democrat, depicted Akin as an extreme ideologue and an ineffective legislator. Akin carried St. Louis County 57%-40% and won overall, 55%-42%.
In the House, Akin has one of the most strongly conservative voting records. After a California federal appeals court ruled the reference to “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional, Akin twice successfully ushered through a bill to strip lower courts of jurisdiction over challenges to the Pledge. But it went nowhere in the Senate. He sponsored the Parent’s Right to Know Act, which bars funding to family planning projects that provide contraceptive drugs and devices to minors without parental consent. In 2003, Akin burned some bridges with Republican leaders when he voted against their bill creating a prescription drug benefit under Medicare, saying the new program would be a “budget buster” and attract more illegal immigrants to the country. He sponsored a bill in 2008 to encourage offshore energy exploration in the National Sea Grant Program.
On the Armed Services Committee, Akin has emphasized special operation forces, which he considers essential to the fight against terrorism. One of his sons was a Marine in Iraq. He is also a defender of Boeing, a major presence in his district. In May 2008, the House defeated his amendment to restore $193 million for the Army’s Future Combat Systems program, a Boeing project. He may be motivated to try again given his increasing seniority on the committee.
Back home, Akin was easily re-elected. In 2006, Republican primary challenger Sherman Parker, a moderate African-American state representative, was arrested a week before the contest on charges of failing to register his car or to appear in court for a speeding ticket. Akin won 88%-12%. In the 2008 presidential contest, he did not endorse John McCain until midsummer, citing their differences on federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research, campaign finance regulation and illegal immigration.