State senators in Missouri demand Brunner pull ‘smear ad’

On Tuesday, Brunner’s campaign released the first negative ad of the GOP primary to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). In the ad, he accused Steelman and Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) of manufacturing public debt. A source tracking the ad market said Brunner’s team had put just under $200,000 behind the ad.

On a conference call with reporters, Brunner's campaign manager insisted it wasn’t a negative ad because it didn't use ominous music or grainy, unflattering pictures of his opponents.

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But four GOP members of the state Senate, where Steelman formerly served, came to her defense in a letter calling Brunner’s claims false and saying that Steelman “has never voted for an out-of-balance budget or a tax increase.”

“Unlike Washington, D.C., and certainly contrary to Mr. Brunner’s claims, Missouri constitutionally must pass a balanced budget. Although not always easy, I’m proud to say that my colleagues and I delivered on that promise by making tough decisions,” the four state lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers asked Brunner to “retract his smear ad and correct his statements,” adding that Brunner should read the state Constitution, which requires that the state balance its budget every year.

Brunner spokesman John Sutter said the campaign would not pull the ad, adding that a more detailed response to the letter would be provided later.

"The Brunner campaign fully stands by the material presented in the 'Manufacturing Comparison' television ad," said Sutter.

- This post was updated at 10:12 a.m.