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“You can say a lot of things about Todd Akin, but to say he’s not conservative is just ridiculous,” said Steve Ehlmann, county executive for St. Charles, a western suburb of St. Louis that falls within Mr. Akin’s 2nd Congressional District.

Mr. Brunner has dominated the airwaves, assisted by millions of dollars from his personal fortune, touting himself as the anti-incumbent businessman who has never once held public office. Meanwhile, Mr. Akin and Mrs. Steelman have struggled to raise enough money to defend themselves against his string of attack ads.

That airwaves advantage could be all he needs to gain a victory Tuesday. Even though he doesn’t have a conservative record to show voters, he has checked off all the right boxes, so to speak, to satisfy Missouri Republicans, analysts said.

“You have to check off the following issues, or you’re not a candidate,” said Terry Jones, a political science professor at the University of Missouri. “Health care, deficit, abortion, guns, prayer in school — Brunner’s checked off all the appropriate check marks and so have Steelman and Akin.”