Political Animal


August 21, 2012 1:06 PM Blue Girl Comments On Akin Saga

By Ed Kilgore

[Note: this is a guest post from our friend and favorite Missourian, Blue Girl, who makes a bold prediction Akin will bow out and then explores the implications. Blue Girl blogs about Missouri politics at Show Me Progress . You can also follow her on Twitter and at the Washington Monthly Facebook page.]

I honestly thought until about ten o’clock last night that Akin would stay in. He won by a comfortable margin over the other two wingnuts in the race two weeks ago, and he has strong support among the evangelical right and the tea-folk, who turned out en masse (thanks to a right-wing “right to pray” amendment to our constitution) and voted for him while they were there.

But by the time I was ready to turn in, I was convinced that he would step down by close-of-business today, eleven weeks before the general election and the last day he can do so with no muss, no fuss and no involvement by a court — and Cole County (Jefferson City) judges have made something of a sport out of slapping down wingnut laws and challenges, and sometimes the wingnuts themselves. He doesn’t want those headlines, they would blow his chances of getting a sinecure at The Show Me Institute or on one of St. Louis’ many right-wing Christian radio stations.

Akin has fallen in for some mockery for sending out a fundraising appeal, but that wasn’t actually a fundraising email. That was a barometer of his remaining support. It wasn’t about small donations of three to five bucks, it was about how many small donations and phone calls pledging future donations the campaign logged in a short window of time. My guess is his people leaked that he was preparing to step down when the response from the base was dismal.

So if I’m right and he does step aside, where does that leave things in the Show-Me-State?

For want of a better word, let’s say it will leave things “unsettled.”

Once Akin is out, it will fall to the “establishment” Republicans to choose who will replace him on the ticket. If they put the second-place finisher, John Brunner, on the ballot, the Tea-Folk and evangelicals will pitch a fit that will make the shriek of the Banshee sound like a soothing Irish lullaby. They would be screaming at the top of their lungs that the fix was in all along and the money-cons were going to get their businessman candidate one way or the other, and if the vote they cast in August for their candidate can be nullified and didn’t count for anything, they won’t give it to the establishment pick in November. Sarah Steeleman would be more acceptable to them, but she came in third, and if she got the nod the establishment republicans would go ballistic and stop writing large checks. Rock, meet hard spot.

Since Brunner and Steelman are the only two potential candidates with anything even remotely resembling an existing statewide presence, infrastructure and campaign offices that could be reopened, and they’re both out in the interest of not sparking a civil war in the state GOP, my guess is that they will have to go with someone else and that person will have to hit the ground running and build a campaign organization on the fly.

Here is the thing about Akin withdrawing…the folks who bailed on him while his final syllable still hung in the air don’t understand Missouri, and they really don’t understand Missouri’s right-wing authoritarian evangelical Christians, nor do they realize the extent to which they have taken over the state GOP. If you think for a minute that the state’s “establishment” Republicans wanted Akin — or about 3/4 of the GOP caucus of the current General Assembly, for that fact — you should contact me immediately about a bridge we have for sale. The “establishment” Republicans in the white-stocking law firms in Kansas City and St. Louis tolerate the tea-vangelicals and bide their time, but they’re just waiting for an opening; waiting for their chance to poison the coffee pot, so to speak.

Never mind that those evangelical Christians are the GOTV operation for the Republicans, and his withdrawal will hurt those efforts in November, especially if the candidate the GOP opts for doesn’t “excite” the base, and the only prayer Mitt Romney has of carrying this state is for the evangelicals to show up on election day with clothespins on their noses to vote against Obama. Now think back to 2008…Remember, Missouri wasn’t called for about two weeks, and in the end Obama lost the state by less than 4000 votes and would have prevailed had he demanded the recount he was entitled to, but he won handily without our electoral votes so we were spared the humiliation of being that year’s version of “Florida, 2000.”

No matter what happens later today, the Missouri GOP is facing something of a crisis. They have to thread a very fine needle with whoever they pick and their options are extremely limited. Too many of the Republican names that are well-known in this state are well known for all the wrong reasons, and that brings its own set of problems.

No matter what, the candidate they settle on is going to be offensive to about half the Republican voters in the state, even if they manage to get the Risen Christ himself on the ballot, and that candidate is going to have to build a campaign operation from scratch and make appearances in all 114 counties in the state in less than eleven weeks. A Herculean task at best, but more likely a Sysiphean one.

Claire McCaskill must be livin’ right, that’s all I can say. After the brutal year-and-a-half onslaught of attack ads by Karl Rove’s dark money outfit and seeing the Senate “de-Claired” has been the number one goal of the GOP — and most likely a lot of that dark money is coming from defense contractors and mercenary outfits because she has been worthy of Harry Truman’s seat by going after waste, fraud and abuse in the Pentagon and among private military contractors. The turmoil on the GOP side has certainly given her an opportunity, and I’ve known Claire a long time, since she was the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney and I know one thing about her as well as I know my own name…That woman has never squandered an opportunity in her life, and she isn’t about to start now.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Big River Bandido on August 21, 2012 1:26 PM:

    "Worthy of Harry Truman's seat"??? WTF?

    Harry Truman would never have voted against his own caucus on procedural issues, as McCaskill regularly does. Nor would Truman ever have had problems with the taxes on his private plane.

    The very notion that Claire McCaskill is even remotely worthy of taking Harry Truman's place is repulsive.

  • Dave Wales on August 21, 2012 1:31 PM:

    I don't claim to know anything about MO politics. I do think that the GOP wouldn't care what he said (as in, other then being out loud, how is what he said so different from what many appear to think?) If it would just stay in MO.

    I think the calculation is more to the effect of "trading" away a senate seat because Mitts in a tight race and would appreciate the loons keeping their voices down, for Pete's sake.

    How is that before the convention roll out of Ryan looking now?

  • Ron Byers on August 21, 2012 1:37 PM:

    The last I looked Akin was still buying airtime for the rest of the week. If he hasn't opted out yet (I have been busy with a few projects), I would guess he is going to stay in.

    I agree with Blue Girl though. Without the evangelicals, the Republicans in Missouri would be sucking for air. With them they can win Missouri. What amazes me is that for all the money Rove has spent here carpet bombing Claire she is still in the race.

  • gus on August 21, 2012 1:38 PM:

    I think he stays in. And heíll get support. It just wonít be direct support. It might just be anti-McCaskill.

    Of course by the deadline, he could be gone. But, I donít see any reason why he would drop out.

    Also, how does this Senate run affect his House seat? Heís up for that or not?


  • c u n d gulag on August 21, 2012 1:38 PM:

    Blue Girl,
    Thanks for the great update.

    So, Akin will heed the cries and "pull out", aborting his Senate run?

    Well, from your mouth (or, rather, his big one), to the Flying Spaghetti Monster's ear.

    I'm no great fan of McCaskill, sometimes she seems like Evan Bayh in a dress (but coming from your state, it's understandable why she sometimes has to do that), but she's light years better than any Teabagging Jesus-freak from MO who's likely to darken the Senate chambers towels.

  • AlphaLiberal on August 21, 2012 1:42 PM:

    Good to hear Claire McCaskill has fought the MI complex.

    It would be nice to hear something positive about Claire McCaskill. At this point she seems a a few steps short of bring the Lieberman if she returns. So if there is good news about her that the unwashed masses in the netroots should know about, by all means tell us more. Because we are not feeling the love beyond that one vote for Majority Leader.

  • BillFromPA on August 21, 2012 1:49 PM:

    As I mentioned in a comment yesterday, since when do wingnut pols resign? Did Vitter, Craig, Ensign? I forget what the Page Lover in Fla did but I think he stuck it out too, (poor choice of words there). Akin has the Rovester over a barrel. Once this dies down, as it will as far as internal GOP wrangling goes, is the GOP and it's Super PACs just going to sit this out? In what Universe does that happen?

  • Josef K on August 21, 2012 1:57 PM:

    Okay, but suppose Akin stays in. He doesn't strike as an especially balanced character (I blame divinity school for that one), and perhaps doesn't realize just how quickly he's become the unofficial "face" of Republican thinking on social issues. Is it possible he's taking this all as a sign he's in the right and is willing to go ahead with this Gordon-esque march into the fire?

    What happens if he stays in? Does he have the resources and standing to keep going?

  • ShadowFox on August 21, 2012 2:02 PM:

    Well, BlueGirl was wrong--must have been reading the wrong tea leaves. Akin is staying--at least, for now--as he announced on Huckabee's show. All the indicators of intransigence were available last night and I shared them by email with a bunch of friends--an no-apology apology ad; an ad buy for an entire week; a flash poll that shows an unchanged position and Akin still in the lead; defiance in the face of intra-party cannibalism; support form the teahadist wing. Now, all of these can be read in different ways. For example, many defiant candidates who claim they want to stay in the race to win quit when faced with the prospect of a landslide loss. And the biggest threat Akin got was the withdrawal of national money. But, in the end, the whole of those indicators proved correct. So we still have Todd Akin to kick around. And now we have Steve King to kick around some more too. And, while we are at it, we can tie these lodestones around the necks of other Republicans--particularly Paul Ryan. Whether it will sink the ship, however, is still open to question. Voters are much more polarized than in the past and wingnuts feel aggrieved--perpetually. They circle the wagons admirably, which often leads to downfall, but it's just not clear how much support they have in MO. Once you leave the suburbia, it's Farmer John country. And half the populations lives out there--undereducated, underinformed, intransigent--much like their chosen representatives. In another year, they'd listen to the media and the national party and say, "Hell with this guy! What other stupid thing is he going to say?!" and vote him out. But since Obama got elected, they really are clinging to those outmoded notions that Obama called out back in 2008 (and got pilloried in right-wing press for disparaging "Real Red-Blooded Americans"). This shit is getting tougher to predict. It really is getting back to the point where the only way for a Republican candidate to get out of the race is to be caught with a dead woman or a live boy.

  • Cybrguy on August 21, 2012 2:02 PM:

    He just came out reconfirming that he intends to stay in the race. How exciting. I can't imagine a better result!!!

    Get me some popcorn!!

  • gus on August 21, 2012 2:16 PM:

    I didnít think he would but I guess thereís always a clock ticking, isnít there?

    Forget about the support he is hearing about right now.
    Look at the Natíl GOP Platform that is being drafted/ ratified down in Tampa.

    The guy has little reason in the world to believe he is truly a fringe candidate for the Senate and he has even less reason to believe that Missouri voters will not support him.

    Heís from the suburbs; he represents a large district. And, if he has served six terms for them and he has credence with the voters who vote republican, he probably feels pretty good about his showing state-wide.

    The thing is he probably isnít likely to stop saying crazy things nor is he going to shut his yap about the crazy things he believes. Heís got traction on being a victim for what he believes. He probably feels heís being persecuted for his morality. Thatís not something he or those who vocally support him are going to let go of. They are going to embrace him and fight for him.

    Note to the Establishment GOP:

    You made your bed, didnít you? You didnít think it would keep it self in order, did you?

    I hope this drags all of them down. Next in line, his co-sponsor for life: Abs Ryan.

  • Blue Girl on August 21, 2012 3:53 PM:

    Well, I've been wrong before. I voted for Dukakis in the primary, and I was one of the loudest voices demanding that Mark Funkhouser run for Mayor of KC back in 2006 and 2007. A quick google search can show you how wrong I was about that.

    As for what if he stays in? Let's just say I still don't believe I've lived that good a life, but if he does, I gotta start repaying a huge Karmic debt, because I am definitely overdrawn.

  • bluestatedon on August 21, 2012 4:13 PM:

    I just drove from St. Louis to KC twice within two weeks (en route to and from Colorado). Overall, there were few visible indications of an election yearóI saw just a few Akin billboards along I-70 and not a single one for Claire. The craziest billboards were all in Kansas, though, almost all of them promoting various Christianist craziness.

  • jheartney on August 21, 2012 4:38 PM:

    Don't think he'll leave today, Blue Girl. Maybe after his polling collapses in a few weeks; at that point the GOP establishment can put together a good enough set of incentives (pro and con) to make him leave, and then they'll just have to deal with the mess with reprinting ballots etc.

    Stop feeling that you didn't live a good enough life for this; living through the entire Dubya administration should mean you have a nice surplus in your karma account.