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Palin influence fails to win Missouri GOP Senate primary for Steelman

In a race that was anyone’s game right up to when the polls closed Tuesday night, the candidate who ran third in most polls and had the least money pulled off a major upset for U.S. senator from Missouri. In winning the right to face one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents — freshman Sen. Claire McCaskill — this fall, the six-term Rep. Todd Akin overcame millionaire businessman John Brunner, who spent heavily from his own fortune, and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who benefited from campaign appearances by Sarah Palin.

In the last St. Louis Post Dispatch poll before the primary, Brunner led Steelman by a margin of 33 to 27 percent, with Akin trailing at 17 percent. Largely because of last minute attacks on one another by Brunner and Steelman, most Show-Me State sources concluded, Akin (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 97 percent) was able to creep up and overtake them in the final days of the race. In part, he was helped in this goal by solid support from fellow cultural conservatives and his strong endorsement from one of their favorite politicians, Mike Huckabee.

Brunner spent an estimated $8 million of his own money on the race and styling himself a businessman and conservative political outsider — something very much in style in 2012. Steelman, well-known from her stint as state treasurer and a bid for governor in 2008, won swatches of publicity from Palin’s endorsement. In addition, the former Alaska governor made two appearances on her behalf this weekend. So far, this year, Palin had been 4 and 0 in terms of her endorsements in contested primaries: tea party-backed candidates Richard Mourdock of Indiana, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Ted Cruz of Texas, along with incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Cruz and Steelman were the lone contenders for whom Palin went into their respective states to stump for.

Akin’s win spells the first time in a Senate nomination battle that a Palin-backed contender has lost.

St. Louis-area lawmaker Akin’s campaign featured Huckabee in commercials. He also had the backing of the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly and was helped from Missouri’s large network of evangelical conservatives.

He may also have been helped by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) own political action committee, which had already launched television broadsides against businessman-candidate Brunner. Days before the primary, Brunner told Human Events that “the idea of a businessman who owes nothing to anyone running against McCaskill must scare the Democrats, since Harry Reid and (McCaskill) are running those attack ads against me before I’m the nominee.”

While some will make the case that McCaskill and Reid now have the Republican candidate they most wanted in Missouri, Todd Akin is now the nominee and one of the best-positioned Republican challengers in the nation. A Rasmussen Poll showed all three GOP hopeful leading among likely Show-Me State voters.

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Palin influence fails to win Missouri GOP Senate primary for Steelman

Former Rep. Todd Akin’s win spells the first time in a Senate nomination battle that a Sarah Palin-backed contender has lost.

In a race that was anyone??s game right up to when the polls closed Tuesday night, the candidate who ran third in most polls and had the least money pulled off a major upset for U.S. senator from Missouri. In winning the right to face one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents — freshman Sen. Claire McCaskill — this fall, the six-term Rep. Todd Akin overcame millionaire businessman John Brunner, who spent heavily from his own fortune, and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who benefited from campaign appearances by Sarah Palin.

In the last St. Louis Post Dispatch poll before the primary, Brunner led Steelman by a margin of 33 to 27 percent, with Akin trailing at 17 percent. Largely because of last minute attacks on one another by Brunner and Steelman, most Show-Me State sources concluded, Akin (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 97 percent) was able to creep up and overtake them in the final days of the race. In part, he was helped in this goal by solid support from fellow cultural conservatives and his strong endorsement from one of their favorite politicians, Mike Huckabee.

Brunner spent an estimated $8 million of his own money on the race and styling himself a businessman and conservative political outsider — something very much in style in 2012. Steelman, well-known from her stint as state treasurer and a bid for governor in 2008, won swatches of publicity from Palin??s endorsement. In addition, the former Alaska governor made two appearances on her behalf this weekend. So far, this year, Palin had been 4 and 0 in terms of her endorsements in contested primaries: tea party-backed candidates Richard Mourdock of Indiana, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Ted Cruz of Texas, along with incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Cruz and Steelman were the lone contenders for whom Palin went into their respective states to stump for.

Akin??s win spells the first time in a Senate nomination battle that a Palin-backed contender has lost.

St. Louis-area lawmaker Akin??s campaign featured Huckabee in commercials. He also had the backing of the Eagle Forum??s Phyllis Schlafly and was helped from Missouri??s large network of evangelical conservatives.

He may also have been helped by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid??s (D-Nev.) own political action committee, which had already launched television broadsides against businessman-candidate Brunner. Days before the primary, Brunner told Human Events that ??the idea of a businessman who owes nothing to anyone running against McCaskill must scare the Democrats, since Harry Reid and (McCaskill) are running those attack ads against me before I??m the nominee.?

While some will make the case that McCaskill and Reid now have the Republican candidate they most wanted in Missouri, Todd Akin is now the nominee and one of the best-positioned Republican challengers in the nation. A Rasmussen Poll showed all three GOP hopeful leading among likely Show-Me State voters.

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Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as ??the man who knows everyone in Washington? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on what??s going on in the nation??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as ??Gizzi on Politics? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of ??Gizzi??s America,? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. John??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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