McCaskill Writing a Book on 2012 Race with Akin
March 21, 2013



Sen. Claire McCaskill is penning a book about her successful reelection campaign against Rep. Todd Akin, she said Wednesday on a local radio show.
“I’m going to tell the whole story,” the Missouri Democrat said on the “Allman In The Morning Show” on St. Louis’ KFTK. “People are telling me not to do it, but it was just so interesting and I think people need to understand that some of the extreme elements in this country, on both ends of the spectrum, are not politically viable if you do it right.”
She didn’t give many details about her new tome. McCaskill’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for more details about the book.
McCaskill, who defeated Akin after the latter’s comments about “legitimate rape” and abortion caused a national firestorm, said the experiences show candidates like Akin can’t win in a general election.
“You wouldn’t believe some of the other things that he had said that we had in the can,” she said. “He had said a number of things that disqualified him with independent voters in Missouri. Now, obviously, when he said that, it made it much easier for all the other things he said to be believable.”
She also admitted she feared one potential GOP candidate, businessman John Brunner. McCaskill’s campaign spent money during the primary process to boost Akin’s run.
“The only thing that was scary about John Brunner was that he had an unlimited checkbook,” she said. “And that’s always a little scary.”

Why Money Can’t Buy you Live, or Votes
November 11, 2012

ST. LOUIS • What can you get for $6.6 million these days?
Not the Missouri governor’s office, as it turns out.

That’s how much Republican gubernatorial nominee Dave Spence spent from his personal fortune in his failed attempt to topple Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in Tuesday’s election. For his trouble, Spence lost by a 12-point margin. His final personal tab: More than $5 per vote.

Spence’s expensive loss came on the heels of businessman John Brunner’s even more expensive one in Missouri’s August GOP primary for the U.S. Senate. After spending some $8 million of own money, Brunner — a political novice, like Spence — finished second to underfinanced Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin. Akin went on to lose the general election by almost 16 points to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill Tuesday.

It’s been said that money is the lifeblood of politics, and McCaskill’s 4-to-1 campaign funding advantage over Akin certainly was a key factor in her victory last week.

But the fates of Spence, Brunner, and other inexperienced but wealthy candidates around the country once again show the limits of the almighty dollar against the multifaceted demands of politics. “People who are successful in life are the best people to have in office … because of their skill sets,” said Jeff Roe, a Kansas City-based Republican political consultant.

But as candidates, they often run into problems, Roe said, most of them self-inflicted. “They have to learn that their instincts aren’t always correct.”


Brunner went into the summer primaries expecting to spend millions of his own money, and did, only to find it wasn’t enough to overcome Akin’s years of local connection-building among rural conservatives who can sway a GOP primary.
“There is a real advantage to having been around and having met people who make local politics work,” said Republican political consultant John Hancock, who was a Brunner adviser. “This is a kind of political capital that is in some respects as important as money.”

Spence didn’t expect to spend what he did, but ended up doing it to “finish what I started” when outside money dried up — a development he blames on media distracted by Akin’s controversial Senate run.

“I did what I had to do,” Spence said of his personal spending. “I didn’t like it. It didn’t feel good.”

They join a perennial club in American politics: self-funding newbie politicians who hope their money will allow them to bypass the lower rungs of the political ladder and go right to the upper levels.

Sometimes it works. There’s a reason more than half the members of the U.S. Senate are millionaires.

When self-funded candidates with no political experience lose, said Roe, it’s often because of “how they are used to administering their businesses, and how that translates into a campaign.”
For a serious high-level campaign, they have to trade in the trusted partners and employees from their business lives for “those who practice the dark arts” — political consultants. And then, just as difficult, they have to listen to them.

Roe said successful businessmen can have a difficult time doing that, in part because of the big personalities common among entrepreneurs.

“They’re very competitive people. It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to do this,” said Roe. So once the inevitable frustration with the consultants sets in, “they sometimes they think, ‘I know how to do this better, anyway.’”

They often don’t.

“They want to see results. ‘How many (voting percentage) points can I get for how much money?’ It doesn’t work that way, but they think it does because that’s their experience,” said Roe. “I literally had a guy say once, ‘I want to spend how much it costs to win 51 percent. I don’t want to fund a landslide.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

Hancock said Brunner was never that naive about the magic that his money could work, and that he was a quick study in the new world of politics.

“He really took to it well,” said Hancock. “I know he thoroughly enjoyed the process of running for office. Not everyone does.”

Brunner couldn’t be reached for comment.


David Steelman Tell’s Politico NRSC Created Environment that ” Let Akin Win”
October 18, 2012

Missouri Republican insider David Steelman, the husband of former GOP Senate candidate Sarah Steelman, is blaming the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) for creating the environment that led to Todd Akin’s upset primary victory this summer.
In a Politico piece on GOP prospects for seizing control of the Senate this cycle, Steelman accuses the NRSC of essentially having it’s thumb on the scale.
According the the report, “while the NRSC never publicly endorsed a candidate, its preference was first-time candidate John Brunner, who had the ability to self-fund a race”.
The NRSC denied the Steelman charge, according to the Politico report.
In the piece Steelman says the NRSC’s “implicit” backing of Brunner at Steelman’s expense, “”created the dynamic that let Akin win.”
Polls during the primary showed Steelman leading the GOP field at one point St Louis businessman John Brunner’s then started a substantial TV advertising campaign that vaulted him into the frontrunner’s position.
Near the end of the Republican primary, however, all three Republicans; Akin Brunner and Steelman, were leading Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in head-to-head match ups.
After the Amin primary victory, he continued to lead McCaskill in polls.
That changed on August 19, about two weeks after Akin won the primary, when Akin made the infamous “legitimate rape” comment.
That remark turned the campaign in Missouri upset down.
McCaskill now leads in two of the three latest polls.

Five Take Aways from Tuesday Primary
August 8, 2012

You can’t beat home cooking:
Todd Akin rolled up an 18 point victory in St. Charles County Tuesday night. He won easily in another Republican stronghold, St Louis County. He also cruised in Greene County (Springfield).
Voters in the collar counties around St. Louis are familiar with Akin. He’s been a Congressman there for 12 years. Voters knew who he was, and what he stood for.
His Congressional career started in the same fashion. He squeezed through a tough multi-candidate primary in 2000 to win the Mo-2 seat he holds now.
In an uncertain hard punching primary, voters sought some comfort food. Akin still has to campaign hard in the rest of the state. He’ll have the resources to do that.

–On the flip side, Missouri voters don’t care for new dishes
Businessman John Brunner came out of nowhere. Very few Missouri Republicans had heard of the man until he started spending heavily to build up his name recognition. In his defense, he had to.
But Brunner’s punched away at rival Sarah Steelman much of the summer. He tagged Akin, too but not as much.
When voters have a couple of candidates throwing lots of haymakers, (Brunner and Steelman) they assume they are both flawed. They opt for another choice. It happens a lot in campaigns.
And for Brunner—an $8 million dollar tour of the back roads of Missouri didn’t pay off. Ouch.

–McCaskill catches a break.
For the first time all election cycle it seems, Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill got a break. She got the fall opponent she wants. She even advertised on his behalf. Her TV commercial announcing Akin as “too conservative for Missouri”, may have had en impact. A late, tough commercial against Brunner by the Democratic Senate PAC, Majority PAC, didn’t hurt either.
McCaskill’s campaign believes she can run effectively against the conservative Republican Senate nominee. The problem is she walks into the fall race the underdog. While McCaskill was telling everybody Tuesday night she likes that role, she’d take the favorite position in a heartbeat.
Another break is that Akin has to re-load his campaign treasury. McCaskill has money in the bank. That is offset, however, by the fact that outside spending (Cross Roads, US Chamber of Commerce)in the Missouri Senate race will not let up.
She still on the endangered species list.

–More comfort food.
Peter Kinder survives because voters are familiar with him (See ‘Home Cooking)
Kinder has had a sustained presence in the St. Louis areas for years. Most of it positive coverage. Despite the Penthouse Pet stories in the Riverfront Times and his forced reimbursement of travel expenses—first reported in the Post Dispatch—that knocked him out of the Governor’s race.
He prevailed because the electorate in the GOP target-rich environment of the St. Louis suburbs pulled him through. Opponent Brad Lager, from northwest Missouri, had to start his St. Louis campaign nearly from scratch. Lager does get props for immediately announcing his “full support” for Kinder in the fall.

-Ks Conservatives Clean Their Plate:
In 2010, Kansas Republicans were delighted they won back the Executive branch. Last night, Governor Sam Brownback led a conservative charge through his own ranks. Eight moderate Republican State Senators were taken out in a brutal in-party purge. Other open seats, held by moderates who retired, also flipped.
Brownback’s low-tax, small government agenda is now in the fast lane.
The Kansas Chamber of Commerce has even more clout that before since it launched the campaign against the GOP moderates.

Akin Wins GOP Senate Nod, Faces McCaskill in the Fall
August 7, 2012

Louis Congressman Todd Akin won a rough and tumble Missouri Republican Senate primary Tuesday night.
He now faces incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill.
Late polling showed how vulnerable McCaskill may be in the fall campaign.
A Post-Dispatch KMOV TV poll showed the incumbent trailing Akin and two other Republicans, John Brunner and Sarah Steelman.
Akin may, in fact, be McCaskill’s preferred Republican.
In those polls she was closest to Akin.
The St. Louis area Congressman represent heavily Republican areas in the counties outside St. Louis. Voter familiarity with his record helped him in the GOP primary.
Akin campaigned on a claim he was one of Missouri’s most conservative members of Congress. McCaskill even ran a commercial claiming he was too conservative for Missouri.
He also claimed an independent streak. He often old voters his first vote in Congress was against then-President George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ program.
Akin survived a rocky start to his campaign.
He was often considered the third player in the bruising Missouri Senate campaign.
The hard-hitting broadcast war between Brunner and Steelman was center stage for much of the primary.
It may have played a role in the Akin victory.
Political strategists often say when two candidates hammer each other in a multiple candidiate race, the candidates that are not part of the mudslinging often benefit.
Akin won it by performing well in St. Louis suburbs, like St. Charles County where he rolled up an 18 point margin of victory. he also won another Republican stronghold in southwest Missouri. Akin won Greene County.
The loss by Brunner was not only tough, but expensive. The wealthy St. Louis businessman poured 8 million dollars of his own money into the campaign.
He was so flush with cash that the McCaskill campaign says Brunner mailers were sent to Claire McCaskill’s house in Kirkwood. Some were addressed to her, some to her husband.
Fomrer State Treasurer Sarah Steelman has now lost her second statewide race in four years. She had hoped for a ‘Steelman surge’ with a visted by former GOP Vice presidential candidiate Sarah palin late last week.
McCaskill’s campaign will fire it’s opening salvo at Akin in the morning.
Wednesday at 10 McCaskill will be at a Kansas City factory where she’ll open her fall campaign against Republican senate nominee Todd Akin.