Missouri Republicans on Tuesday will choose between a trio of Senate hopefuls who have been locked in a tight contest in which all three have jockeyed to present themselves as the most conservative in the bunch. The winner will face Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, considered to be one of the most vulnerable 2012 incumbents.
Businessman John Brunner, Rep. Todd Akin and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman are all vying to take on McCaskill. Brunner led the field in a poll poll released over the weekend with 35 percent; Akin had 30 percent and Steelman had 25 percent.
“It’s very difficult to predict the race at this point,” a Republican source in Missouri told TPM. “I think for the first time in a very long time, at least in Missouri, we are heading into an Election Day where all three of the candidates really all do have a path to victory.”
Akin has a geographic base in the St. Louis suburbs, which he has represented in Congress for 12 years.
Steelman previously represented the state’s central region in the state Senate, and still has support in the southwestern portion of the state.
Brunner, a businessman who has never held elected office, doesn’t have a specific geographic support base but has benefited from blanketing the entire state with TV ads.
Brunner has put nearly $7 million of his own money into the race, and raised $600,000, for a total of $7.6 million — dwarfing Akin’s total fundraising of $2.2 million; and Steelman’s $1.4 million, which included $400,000 she loaned herself, according to federal elections records through July 18.