Steelman supporters will have to back a different horse if they want to have their shot at “the Claire Bear,” as Republican Congressman Todd Akin has beat Sarah Steelman, a former state treasurer, in the GOP senate primary.
Steelman and Akin battled it out for Tea Party support, with Akin getting endorsements from former Governor Mike Huckabee and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, while Steelman counted former Governor Sarah Palin among her endorsers.
The battle between Akin and McCaskill is expected to be one of the most closely-watched senate races in the country, and will be heavily funded by both donors and outside groups. McCaskill is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators up for reelection this cycle, and Republicans will be focusing on the seat as a target for flipping control of the senate.
Steelman put up a strong challenge to Akin, but was often seen as too extreme among those who were more moderate in the party. Steelman and her supporters created a great deal of controversy with incendiary rhetoric that sometimes bordered on violent, such as when a rally organizer called on the audience to “kill the Claire Bear,” a statement Steelman declared the media blew out of proportion.
Steelman was backed by the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-choice organization that allegedly supports “pro-life women candidates,” although if that is they’re actual mission, they’ve strayed back and forth from women to men. With this race likely to be one of the most contested in the 2012 cycle, an endorsement of Akin will likely come soon.
If so, the endorsement wouldn’t be without “merit.” Akin is one of the most anti-choice House Republicans, and one of the sponsors of Stop Abortion Funding in Multi-state Exchange Plans (SAFE) Act. He was voceriferously opposed to allowing abortions to be performed in military hospitals or on military bases, despite the fact that this could be the only access to safe abortion available for thousands of military women serving abroad. And he admits “pride” in being one of the original sponsors of H.R. 3, which among other anti-women elements would have redefined what “constituted” rape.
Akin hopes to take these views to the senate, allowing him to have even more influence over a woman’s body.
“Todd Akin’s victory is the result of an unprecedented level of support from outside groups who are launching vicious attacks against Senator McCaskill’s sterling record,” said Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List, via statement. “But the distinction between Claire’s impressive track record of fighting for working families and Akin’s extreme, Tea Party agenda couldn’t be clearer. And this November, the voters will once again send a leader to the Senate who fights for their rights and opportunities.”
In the latest polling, Akin leads McCaskill by an average of 3 points.