Last night I went on Gillespie, Josh Gillespie’s podcast and we talked about Todd Akin. I’m still of the mind that Akin will step down today, but the question was, “what happens then?”
After Akin withdraws the decision to name a replacement falls to the 71 members of the state GOP central committee. [See update] Speculation is currently focused on two candidates Akin defeated in the recent GOP primary; businessman Jim Brunner and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman.
Brunner had the backing of many GOP insiders because of his ability to partially self-fund his race. Steelman had the backing of Sarah Palin. They both lost to Akin in large part because Sen. McCaskill ran a lot of ads “attacking” him for being too conservative. (Think of it as a Republican dog-whistle.) Among the two, Steelman probably has the edge as the GOP may want to put the Akin debacle to rest by nominating a woman. It is also expected that Palin would campaign aggressively for Steelman, which would be helpful as 2012 is turning out to be a base election.
Other names being floated include former Sen. John Ashcroft and former Ambassador Ann Wagner. Wagner is the current GOP candidate to replace Akin in the House. One can readily imagine a deal where Wagner gets the nod to run for Senate and Akin gets to nod to reclaim his old House seat. A grand bargain for the Grand Old Party.
Former Sen. Jim Talent, who lost to McCaskill in 2006, has already announced he won’t seek the nomination.
Note to the Missouri GOP: just go with Brunner. He came in second and it destroys the McCaskill talking point that the GOP candidate was chosen by the party, not the people.
It’s simple and easy.