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Missouri Republicans Hope to Anoint McCaskill Replacement Missouri Republicans Hope to Anoint McCaskill Replacement

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Missouri Republicans Hope to Anoint McCaskill Replacement

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Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., pauses after speaking about the hardships being endured in her state from floods and high gasoline prices, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, May 17, 2011.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

But Akin has gotten some major outside help recently, too, from Democrats who prefer him as the GOP nominee (while the Mason-Dixon poll showed McCaskill trailing behind all three, the matchup with Akin was closest). McCaskill took a page from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's playbook in July: Reid, in his 2010 reelection campaign, meddled in the GOP primary and helped gaffe-prone tea party favorite (and his favored opponent) Sharron Angle to a victory. In July, McCaskill released television ads targeting each of her potential GOP opponents, but the Akin-focused spot touted Akin's conservative credentials. And the Akin ad ran much more frequently than the commercials hitting Brunner and Steelman. To top it off, last week a radio ad paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee "attacked" Akin in a similar manner ("Todd Akin calls himself the true conservative, but is he too conservative?" asks the ad's narrator). Meanwhile, he may also benefit from outside ads hitting the other two candidates. The Democratic-aligned Majority PAC has directly targeted Brunner in two ads in another attempt to boost Akin. (The congressman and Brunner are both from St. Louis, and each needs to do well there to win. Steelman, from Rolla, has been campaigning hard for the rural vote). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which supports Brunner, has gone after Steelman in an ad. And Akin is the only candidate to refrain from running negative ads targeting his Republican primary candidates. His stay-above-the-fray approach could benefit him as it may have benefited Nebraska Senate nominee Deb Fischer: When two candidates are slugging it out in a three-way race, a candidate who sticks to a positive, attack-free message holds some appeal. Brunner, having spent close to $8 million of his own money on the race so far, still looks like the man to beat Tuesday, but an upset looks entirely possible. A day out from the primary, it's still anybody's race.

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