Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) entered the Missouri Senate race Tuesday, setting up a potentially bruising primary campaign for the Republican nomination.
The six-term St. Louis-area Republican joins a field that includes former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman. St. Louis businessman John Brunner, the chairman of health and beauty product-maker Vi-Jon Laboratories Inc., has been testing the waters for a bid but hasn't made an official announcement.
"I am today announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate because of my deep concern about the condition of our economy, the debt, and excessive federal spending. I am deeply grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from fellow Missourians who share my convictions," Akin said, according to his prepared remarks.
Steelman was quick to issue a statement decrying the "status quo in Washington."
"The Washington establishment has been looking for a candidate that will protect their interests instead of those of the people," she said in a statement. "I welcome Congressman Akin to the race and look forward to a vigorous debate so we can let the voters decide who is best to stand up for working Missouri taxpayers vs the Washington special interests."
Akin starts with a financial advantage, having outraised Steelman by more than 2-to-1 last quarter. He had more than $900,000 banked as of the start of April, compared to less than $200,000 for Steelman.
Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillSenators introduce dueling miners bills GOP must avoid Dems' mistakes when replacing ObamaCare Live coverage: Mattis confirmation hearing for Pentagon MORE (D-Mo.) is considered a top target for the GOP, but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee indicated it plans to help its first-term incumbent. The DSCC issued a statement Tuesday labeling Akin as "Big Oil Todd" for voting "six times to protect Big Oil tax breaks, all while taking $47,000 in campaign cash from the oil and gas industry."
Akin's announcement also drew a response from EMILY's List.
“Representative Akin has spent over a decade amassing one of the worst records in Washington when it comes to protecting women and their families,” Stephanie Schriock, the Democratic-aligned group's president, said in a statement. “Akin has voted in favor of wage discrimination, against family planning, and for ending Medicare as we know it."
Akin suggested being "too conservative" could be an asset.
"Too conservative is just about the medicine that we need," he said during his announcement.
Meanwhile, Akin's open House seat is also likely to become a GOP battleground. Attorney Ed Martin recently switched from running for the Senate to running for Akin's seat, while former Missouri GOP Chairwoman Ann Wagner has set up an exploratory committee and state lawmaker Jane Cunningham has expressed interest in running.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) could switch to run for Akin's seat after redistricting is complete. Missouri is slated to lose one seat, which will likely be Carnahan's.
-- This post was updated at 12:33 p.m.