By Alexander Bolton - 09/25/12 08:51 PM EDT
A political action committee founded by Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.), the Senate Conservatives Fund, says the Missouri Senate race is still winnable for Republicans, and it has started polling members about whether to intervene.
Matt Hoskins, executive director of Senate Conservatives Fund, sent an email to supporters Tuesday asking them whether it should throw its resources behind Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), the embattled lawmaker running to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillVA opposes bill aimed at helping vets in mustard gas experiments Blame game begins on Zika funding Overnight Tech: Obama heads back to Silicon Valley | FCC meeting preview | Yahoo bans terror content | Zuckerberg on sit-in live streams MORE (D-Mo.).
Akin, who faced immense pressure to drop his bid after his comments in August about "legitimate rape," had until Tuesday to withdraw from the race. With the passing of that deadline, Akin remains the nominee and perhaps the key to flipping control of the Senate.
Some Republicans and Democrats think it will be very difficult for Sen. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellDems leery of Planned Parenthood cuts spark Senate scuffle Overnight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Senate passes Puerto Rico debt relief bill MORE (R-Ky.) to ascend to the position of Senate majority leader if Republicans do not win Missouri.
Hoskins wrote that it would be an uphill battle to unseat McCaskill because Republican leaders in Washington have shunned him, casting a pall over his fundraising efforts.
“The challenge for Akin now is fundraising. Party leaders in Washington have made it clear that they won’t help him regardless of how close the race is,” Hoskins wrote. “This isn’t the first time the Republican establishment has attacked and abandoned a conservative nominee, and it probably won’t be the last.”
A spokesman for the committee declined to comment.
DeMint told The Hill last week that he would consider helping Akin and urged National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman John CornynJohn CornynOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico McConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill MORE (Texas) to give the race a second look if Akin stayed in.
“I’m going to look at the race and I would encourage John Cornyn to look at all races where Republicans have a chance to win,” DeMint said. “We have some resources we can put in races, and we’re looking where else we want to invest.”
Cornyn said last week he would not reconsider his decision to pull NRSC funds out of Missouri.
One GOP strategist said the withdrawal of support from Akin will make it much more difficult for Republicans to unseat McCaskill because donors are reluctant to fund his campaign.
“They dried up all his fundraising because they told all the donors in the country he’s a three-headed monster and can’t win,” said the source, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about party strategy.
The NRSC has turned its attention to tightening Senate races in Maine and Connecticut, traditionally blue states.
The committee has aired an ad in Maine attacking independent front-runner Angus KingAngus KingDon’t let Congress legislate science Senators roll out bipartisan gun proposal Dem Senate campaign chair endorses Clinton MORE for his involvement in a project to build controversial wind turbines. King has called on local stations to take down the ad and threatened a lawsuit.
In Connecticut, the committee has highlighted Rep. Chris MurphyChris MurphyReid backs House Puerto Rico bill Meet the man who sparked the Democratic revolt on guns The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE’s (D-Conn.) spotty personal financial history.
The NRSC will not spend money in Connecticut because the GOP nominee, Linda McMahon, is a wealthy wrestling promoter who spent $50 million on her Senate bid in 2010.
The committee is airing ads in Indiana, Montana, North Dakota and Maine. It has reserved airtime in Virginia and Wisconsin and Nevada.
The Senate Conservatives Fund did not back Akin in the Missouri Republican primary.
Over the summer, Hoskin accused Democrats of maneuvering to help Akin win the primary.
“Akin isn’t weak because he’s too conservative. He’s weak because he’s too liberal on spending and earmarks,” Hoskins told Politico.
His calculus has changed now that Akin is certain to remain on the ballot.
“The deadline has passed for Congressman Akin to remove his name from the ballot so he's the Republican candidate and the outcome of the race could decide control of the Senate,” Hoskins wrote.