Senate races

The return of Todd Akin?

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Todd Akin is considering a primary challenge to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in 2016.

“I have not ruled anything out,” the former congressman and 2012 GOP Senate nominee told The Hill in a phone interview on Wednesday.

{mosads}“I think there is a high level of dissatisfaction among conservatives, that they have to some degree been pushed out of the Republican Party,” he continued. “The sentiment is there. The Tea Party is skeptical and wants some fresh blood, not just the same establishment guys.”

Akin’s reemergence is sure to be an unwelcome development for national Republicans.

During his 2012 race against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the Republican triggered a firestorm of criticism from both Democrats and fellow Republicans for saying that women rarely get pregnant from “legitimate rape” during a discussion about why abortion should be illegal in all cases, even rape and incest.

When Akin refused to back down, the GOP essentially abandoned him in the once-winnable race, and his gaffes hurt the party across the board.

Now, the GOP pariah says if he did run, it’d be to try to move his party away from a singular focus on economic issues, which he says has come at the expense of social issues, like abortion.

And Blunt, he argues, will have problems with the state’s conservative base.

“I think [Blunt’s] support among conservatives is weak,” Akin said. “His biggest liability is a third party conservative getting into the race. If I were in Roy’s shoes, that’s what I’d be worried about.”

Blunt is serving his first term in the Senate after having spent more than a decade in the House. He’s viewed as a centrist and will be a formidable incumbent with more than $2.2 million in cash on hand already. He has said publicly he intends to run for reelection but has not yet officially announced.

With Akin in the race, stakes could become even higher for Republicans in defending the seat, worried about the damage to Blunt or even unlikely upset he could pull. 

Democrats have their eyes on reclaiming a majority in the Senate in 2016, a presidential election year when they believe they’ll have an advantage in voter turnout.

Democrats have landed their top recruit for the race, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who launched his Senate bid last week. 

Kander has the support of all the Democratic statewide elected officials in Missouri, including Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Jay Nixon, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has backed him early.

An Akin candidacy could jeopardize the GOP’s grip on a Senate seat in a state that has backed the Republican nominee in each of the last four presidential cycles.

The GOP establishment is sure to line up behind Blunt in the primaries if he faces a challenger. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has a policy of backing incumbents and aided several as they faced intraparty races last cycle.

Akin on Wednesday bemoaned establishment meddling in the primaries, saying it’s in part to blame for the distrust many conservatives have of Republican leadership.

“This new approach under [Karl] Rove’s leadership has party bosses picking the candidates, it’s not a grassroots thing that comes up through the party,” he said.

Akin wouldn’t say how seriously he’s considering a Senate bid. He said he’s also is considering other professional options, like political writing and speaking. He said he’s working on an invention, which he described as a “simple household device that might help people.”

He maintains that a potential challenge to Blunt isn’t personal, although he says that Blunt and the Republican establishment didn’t just abandon him in 2012, they “aggressively attacked” him.

Following Akin’s controversially remarks in 2012, Blunt publicly urged Akin to leave the race and only returned to offer him a tepid endorsement once the deadline to drop out passed.

Tags Abortion Rape Roy Blunt Todd Akin

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