Well, after the dust has settled, after the votes have been cast, and after the last ounce of mud has been slung, the Missouri Republican Senate Primary is finally over and we have a winner…
That winner is Congressman Todd Akin.
Let me pause for a moment, and revel in the victory (please indulge me, it has been a long campaign).
Okay, now that that’s done with, let me explain why this is phenomenal news for the Republican party. In the coming days and months, you will hear early and you will hear often that Akin’s victory played directly into Claire McCaskill’s diabolical hands. See, Mrs. McCaskill is the democratic incumbent, and she is widely considered one of the, if not the most vulnerable Democratic Senators up for reelection in this coming election.
If you’ve been following the Republican primary, especially if you’ve been an Akin supporter, you might also know Mrs. McCaskill for her not-so-vicious “attack ad” against Congressman Akin in the weeks before the GOP Primary. As soon as this ad was released, the same day that the McCaskill camp released attacks against the other two GOP candidates which were, shall we say, not so nice, people were pointing out Mrs. McCaskill’s obvious attempt to control the GOP results.
Well, through some combination of her ads and Akin’s own campaigning, Senator McCaskill got her wish, but I have to say, as the old adage goes, “be careful what you wish for.”
See, the going logic here, as I’ve said, is that Todd Akin is, of the three candidates in the GOP primary, the smallest threat to McCaskill. The thought is that McCaskill, being vulnerable on her record, can lure voters to her side by painting Congressman Akin as an extremist who would destroy our government. There certainly is some truth to this viewpoint, as Akin is by far the most conservative of the three candidates. There is something forgotten, however, in Senator McCaskill’s logic, something which may make her regret her softball attack ads come November. Here is the single thing which McCaskill and her camp have not factored into their grand “weakest opponent” strategy:
Come election day, Todd Akin is not a man easily beaten.
Todd Akin has a history of winning elections he has no business competing in. He did it in his 2000 Primary, where he first ran for his current Congressional seat. Congressman Akin was up against some serious competition in that campaign, among them then state senator Franc Flotron and then-former St. Louis County Executive and local Republican Idol Gene McNary. Todd Akin, then a lowly and unknown state representative, had no business running in that race, but he did, and he won by a few hundred votes.
Turn the calendar to yesterday, and Congressman Akin was again victorious against all odds. Outspent and viciously attacked by little known businessman and former supporter John Brunner, Akin faced perhaps his toughest challenge yet. Furthermore, he had to face former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who, while not on the same financial plain as Brunner, was thought to have outstate votes monopolized. In a campaign where he was thought of as the weakest general election candidate, in a campaign where he was outspent dramatically (Brunner spent more of his own money on the campaign than Akin’s camp spent at all) Congressman Todd Akin again prevailed, this time not by a few hundred votes but tens of thousands, with a six percent margin.
Perhaps, dear reader, you’ll want to attribute this margin to Claire McCaskill’s aforementioned ads, and certainly there is some base to that argument. I won’t sit here and deny that ads being run statewide calling Todd Akin the most conservative member of Congress didn’t help, but let me explain something to you that helped quite a bit more:
Todd Akin’s people.
See, Todd Akin supporters are not run of the mill political supporters. Todd Akin is not a run of the mill candidate. Sure, one could call him an extremist, being as far to the right as he is, and one could call into question his commitment to his religion, but it is exactly that commitment which makes him so dangerous.
Todd Akin supporters see him not only as a candidate in an election, but as a soldier for God. Todd Akin supporters truly believe that he is not only the best candidate for the job, but that he is a divinely selected and guided candidate for the job. Call it cultish if you wish, though you couldn’t be more mistaken, but Todd Akin’s own religious devotion, and as a result the near-religious devotion of his supporters, manifests in election victories.
Todd Akin supporters don’t quit when the going gets rough. Todd Akin supporters don’t see a negative poll and think “well, this thing is over.” Todd Akin supporters think to themselves: “this may be discouraging, but it’s just evidence that I haven’t told enough people about Todd.”
Expect to hear about Todd Akin, folks. Expect to hear about him not only from ads on TV and the Radio, not only through debates, but from your kindly, elderly neighbors. If you attend church, expect to receive Todd Akin literature there. If you attend Chamber meetings, expect to hear about Todd Akin there. If you go to the grocery store and see an old friend, expect to hear about Todd Akin there.
In the eyes of his supporters, Todd Akin has not been selected only by the Republican voters in the great state of Missouri, he has been selected by God Himself. You may sling what mud at that statement you wish, but it makes Todd Akin supporters the most loyal and committed electorate I have ever seen, and I can guarantee you that come November, just like yesterday, and just like August of 2000, underdog or not, Todd Akin will be elected the next senator from the state of Missouri. I say this not only because he was recently my boss, not only because I am a Republican, but because I have met his people, and having sat in a room with them last night as election results rolled in and Mr. Akin was declared the winner, I can only imagine the words that rang out across that ballroom will ring louder and clearer across Missouri in the coming months:
“We want Todd! We want Todd! We want Todd!”