Politics

Akin stays put, but what’s next for the Senate candidate?

Akin stays put, but what's next for the Senate candidate?

“Search in vain for an elected Republican in Missouri who wants Todd Akin to stay on the ballot this fall.”

That is what one prominent Missourian told Human Events Tuesday night, as the six-term congressman insisted he would remain on the ballot as the Republican U.S. Senate nominee. Three days after he used the now-familiar phrase “legitimate rape” on a television interview, Akin let the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline pass for removing himself from the ballot and thus remains his party’s nominee against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill — for now.

With the Akin saga the lead news in distant outlets such as the Financial Times and France24 TV and quite obviously causing tremors within the state and national Republican Party, one wonders why the congressman is taking the course he is. How, one has to ask, can Akin run a fall campaign when other Republican office-seekers from Mitt Romney on down will not appear with him, and when national funding outlets such as American Crossroads and the National Republican Senatorial Committee will not support him?

Akin himself was unavailable for comment and is reportedly staying with his Ohio-based political consultant Rex Elsass — whom, sources told us, wants Akin to stay in the race. But, GOP sources in Missouri who know Akin point out that his base among cultural conservatives remains solid, with national backers such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum telling him to hang in there. In addition, a PPP poll completed yesterday showed Akin still leading McCaskill by one percentage point, the recent furor notwithstanding — although a few skeptics pointed out that PPP is a noted Democratic survey.

Then there is the issue of Akin himself. As former Missouri Democratic State Sen. and New School Assistant Prof. Jeff Smith wrote in Salon Tuesday, “Missouri politicians who have in the past tried to negotiate with Akin describe it as sort of like trying to negotiate with Ahmadinejad. He is a zealot, in every sense of the word.”

In September, six weeks away from the balloting, Akin will have one final opportunity to remove himself from the ballot. Should the lack of national funding and the shunning of fellow Republicans take its toll and he exits the race, then the 68-member Republican state committee will select a new nominee. Because such an abbreviated campaign will follow, the favorite for nomination would be businessman John Brunner, the runner up to Akin in the primary who spent roughly $8 million. Sources close to Akin say that the nominee bitterly resents Brunner’s attacks on suggesting his votes for earmarks in Congress made him close to Barack Obama.

The difference between leaving now and leaving then is that the November ballot will be printed and the state Republican Party would have to pay for the printing of fresh ballots with the name of the new nominee.

“We’re not worried about that part,” insisted one GOP activist in Jefferson City. “If it comes to that, the state party will find the money. Maybe (Las Vegas billionaire) Sheldon Adelson will help us.”

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