In an interview Sunday with KTVI-TV that has been has been run and re-run repeatedly throughout Missouri and across the country, GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said: â??If itâ??s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.â?
Within hours, denunciations of Akin from Democrats — notably incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill — as well as Republicans were being pounded home relentlessly. By Monday morning, there were calls for Akin to step down as the nominee from GOP Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.) and Ron Johnson (Wisc.). In addition, Human Events has learned that Kimmy Brauer, Missouriâ??s top Republican fund-raiser, has told the congressman that she has canceled an event she had planned for him.
At press time, Akin insisted â??Iâ??m not a quitterâ? and several supporters such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council had urged him to stay and fight. Our calls to his office were answered with a message that the answering machine was full.
But, with Tuesday (Aug. 21) the final date for removing oneself from the ballot (10 weeks before the election), talk was growing over â??what happens if Akin goes.â?
The Litton precedent
The last time there was a vacancy in a major partyâ??s Senate nomination was 1976. That was when Rep. Jerry Litton won the Democratic primary for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Stuart Symington and was killed in an airplane crash on the flight to his victory party. Once the shock had abated, the state Democratic committee selected the runner-up to Litton in the three-candidate primary, former Gov. Warren Hearnes, as the new nominee. Hearnes went on to lose to Republican John Danforth that November.
Should Akin relinquish the nomination Tuesday, the 68-member Republican state committee will meet in a short time and choose a new nominee. Betting is strong in state GOP circles that both of the runners-up to Akin in the primary Aug. 7 — millionaire businessman John Brunner and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman — will compete in a political dogfight. Both are considered strong conservatives and each received about 29 percent of the vote in the primary, with Brunner, who spent $8 million of his own money on the race, having a slight edge.
There are other names mentioned for the GOP nod, among them State Auditor Todd Schweich or former Sens. John Ashcroft and Jim Talent. However, Republicans warn that selection of a candidate who has not competed in the primary gives McCaskill a fresh issue about an opponent who was chosen by the party elite rather than the people.
As to what will happen or whether the embattled Akin stays or leaves, no one knows. But it appears weâ??ll know soon enough.