Forgetting Sarah Steelman
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is out with one of its first attacks against a 2012 Republican Senate candidate - former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R).
And what's telling about the DSCC's attack is what it doesn't say about the Tea Party favorite -- not what it does. Instead of blasting her support of conservative principles - as it frequently did towards other Tea Party-backed candidates in 2010 - it goes after her perceived strength, as an outsider willing to take on the establishment.
The DSCC's statement is headlined: "Typical Politician Sarah Steelman Is No Outsider"
"Perennial candidate Sarah Steelman launching a campaign for public office is about as new as the sun rising in the East. Establishment insider Sarah Steelman has either run or publicly considered running in nearly every election for the last decade and a half," DSCC press secretary Deirdre Murphy said in the statement.
"Try as Sarah Steelman might, there's no escaping her insider past."
It's a telling line of attack, a sign that insider credentials are as damaging as perceived extremism in many cases - a lesson learned from the mediocre track record of Republican establishment Senate candidates this past election cycle.
Steelman has spent much of the last decade running for elective office, and served as state Treasurer and state senator during that time. But most politicos remember her as the insurgent candidate, mounting an unsuccessful and divisive gubernatorial primary campaign against then-Rep. Kenny Hulshof in 2008, where she attacked him as a Republican insider.
She announced her campaign for Senate Wednesday, and it looks like she's headed towards another competitive primary against an establishment figure -- former Sen. Jim Talent. Talent has said he is strongly considering the race and will make a decision around the end of the year.
Both Steelman and Talent would be highly competitive against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), according to a new Public Policy Polling survey. The newly-released poll shows McCaskill leading Steelman by just one point, 45 to 44 percent, and trailing Talent by two, 47 to 45 percent.
Missouri voters are evenly split about McCaskill's job performance: 43 percent approve, and 44 percent disapprove - not the strongest numbers heading into a re-election.