Six-term Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (R) has officially tossed his hat in the ring to run against vulnerable Sen. Claire McCaskill (D).
“I will be running for the U.S. Senate in the 2012 election,” Akin said to sustained applause at a press conference in Creve Coeur, Mo., outside of St. Louis. “With the support of the Missouri voters and by God’s grace we will chart a new course — a course of limited government and a course of freedom.”
During the widely expected move, Akin previewed his campaign, emphasizing that he was “a consistent conservative.” Akin noted that he voted against the Democratic health care law, “all of the bailouts” and “that infamous stimulus bill,” adding that McCaskill had voted for all that legislation.
Infusing his 10-minute speech with American history and quoting the Declaration of Independence, he repeatedly emphasized that Missourians had a choice between expanded government and limited government.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Missouri Democratic Party released statements knocking Akin for his connection to Big Oil, noting that he had received almost $50,000 from the oil and gas industry over his career.
In the GOP primary, Akin joins former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman. Her campaign has been dragged down by lackluster fundraising, but as Roll Call first reported, she hopes to reinvigorate her bid with the addition of strategist Rick Wilson to her team.
Akin will also likely face a political unknown in the primary in St. Louis businessman John Brunner, who told the Associated Press last month that he would be willing to partly self-fund his bid for Senate, if he ran. Brunner, a former Marine, is the chairman of Vi-Jon Inc., a Missouri-based manufacturer of health care and cosmetic products such as shampoo and aftershave.
Akin, who is one of the more conservative Members of Congress, raised $459,000 in the first quarter of this year and had almost a million dollars in cash on hand. Steelman raised just $187,000 in the same time period and spent almost that much in the first three months of the year.
Akin also comes with the advantage of relatively strong name recognition, especially in the St. Louis area, where he has represented the suburban and exurban 2nd district for more than a decade.
At his announcement, Akin said: “I have confidence in the state of Missouri. I have confidence in America. We’re going to win this race, and we’re going to return to a new course.”
Akin’s expected announcement cleared two potential Senate candidates from the field — former Ambassador Ann Wagner and attorney Ed Martin instead opted to run for his open House seat in a redrawn 2nd district. They may face Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), whose district was essentially eliminated in redistricting. Census numbers left the Show Me State with one less Congressional seat, beginning in January 2013.
Roll Call Politics rates the Missouri Senate race a Tossup.