In Upset, Akin to Face McCaskill
Rep. Todd Akin defeated businessman John Brunner and former Treasurer Sarah Steelman Tuesday in the primary for the Missouri Senate GOP nomination. With 81 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race with Akin leading his opponents with 36 percent of the vote to Brunner's 30 percent and Steelman's 29 percent. He will face Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in the general election.
It's an upset win for Akin, who overcame millions of dollars being spent by Brunner, his leading opponent. He struggled to raise money and refrained from going negative on the airwaves, primarily touting his socially-conservative credentials. But his motivated base of socially-conservative supporters prevailed over Brunner's money and Sarah Palin's enthusiastic endorsement of Steelman.
He racked up a large margin of victory in his home base of suburban St. Louis County, while running competitively in the rural confines that Steelman hoped to perform well in.
The result is welcome news for McCaskill, who aired ads subtly referencing Akin's conservatism in hopes of helping him win the nomination. Her efforts were supplemented by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Within minutes after the race was called, DSCC executive director Guy Cecil tagged Akin as a tea party-aligned Republican. Akin was one of the first House Republicans to join the Tea Party caucus in 2010.
"Tonight's results provide Missourians with a crystal clear choice between Todd Akin's Tea Party policies and Claire McCaskill, a moderate and independent leader who fights for middle class Missourians," Cecil said in a statement.
But despite getting her favored opponent, McCaskill nonetheless faces a difficult path to re-election in a Republican-leaning state. A Mason-Dixon poll conducted last month showed her trailing Akin, 49 to 44 percent.