Saturday, March 8, 2014
Two of Washington's most powerful Republicans appear to be divided about whether to put their money into winning Maine's Senate seat or Missouri's.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., leads the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has raised millions of dollars for conservative Senate candidates. DeMint told The Hill that it could make sense for the party to back Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., if Akin decides to stay in the race for that state's Senate seat.
Akin is the conservative congressman who was urged to drop out of the Senate race after dismissing the need to allow abortions in cases of rape by saying that women's bodies can prevent pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape." Akin has until Sept. 25 to step aside for a replacement candidate, but it doesn't look like he will.
DeMint told The Hill that he may support Akin despite the "mistake," in hopes of winning a Republican majority.
“I think we need to take every Republican candidate around the country and do what we can to elect them. He’s certainly within striking distance,” DeMint said.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, meanwhile, is chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which also has pumped millions of dollars in Republican Senate campaigns. The NRSC pulled out of the Missouri race after Akin's comments and has since focused resources on the Maine race. A win in Maine by Secretary of State Charlie Summers could keep hopes of a Republican majority alive without winning Missouri.
The NRSC is spending $600,000 on ads in Maine criticizing the independent frontrunner in the Senate race, former Gov. Angus King. Cornyn also has dispatched experienced staffers to Maine to help Summers. Two polls released this week say King is running either 8 or 15 percentage points ahead of Summers, a substantial lead but significantly smaller than it was in June.
DeMint told The Hill he hopes Cornyn reconsiders Missouri, effectively arguing that Akin has a better chance than Summers based on the latest polls.
“I’m going to look at the (Missouri) race and I would encourage John Cornyn to look at all races where Republicans have a chance to win,” DeMint said. Akin, he said, "is certainly within striking distance."
The NRSC appears to be sticking to its Maine strategy, however. Cornyn told The Hill that Akin won't get the NRSC's support.
"We're done," he said.Tweet
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John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
John can be reached at 791-6324 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @jrichmaine
Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
Colin can be reached at 791-6317 or email@example.com
Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
Susan can be reached at 621-5643 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or email@example.com