"For years, we'd spend hours talking about what was happening in Washington and the good, the bad and the ugly," Hancock said.
Brunner would face hurdles in the Republican primary against two better-known opponents. Akin has a staunchly conservative voting record in the House. And while Senate candidate and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R) put up dismal fundraising numbers during the first quarter, Akin impressed Republicans with his fundraising pace, ending the period with nearly a million dollars in the bank.
There isn't a detailed history and record of self-funders in Missouri politics, strategists say. For Brunner, a major strength is his ability to put his own money into a campaign.
"Self-funding candidates -- some of them don't know what they don't know," one neutral GOP strategist familiar with Missouri politics said. "What I've heard is that [Brunner] doesn't know everything, but he knows that he doesn't know everything. And that's the kind of self-funding candidate that you can work with."
And while Brunner could pitch his business acumen as an asset, opponents could also seize on his resume.
"The knock on him from Akin's people and others, is they are going to try to pitch him as a drug company CEO, or a pharmaceutical CEO," the strategist said.
"I think you're facing name ID issues, I think you're facing organizational issues," Missouri GOP strategist Jim Gwinner said of Brunner's chances. "I think he's got great business credentials and has done a lot of things. I just think it'd be a very uphill battle if he gets in, to build that support in a primary."
Republican sources say Brunner is talking to well-connected consultants and donors and is seriously mulling a run. Some national Republicans have an eye on his potential candidacy as well. People have compared Brunner to freshman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a former businessman and political newcomer who defeated Democrat Russ Feingold in 2010, running as an outsider with an economic message.
But if Brunner enters the race, he'll likely face a multi-candidate GOP field with serious opponents. Johnson only had to contend with weaker opponents in the GOP primary before facing off against Feingold.