The Washington Times - July 20, 2012, 12:57PM

As Republicans in Missouri’s Senate primary scramble to claim the mantle as the most conservative in the race, the Democrat who will face one of the them in the fall has unofficially granted that title to Rep. Todd Akin.

Incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill released a trio of television ads on Thursday, saying that since no clear GOP primary frontrunner has emerged so far, she’s targeting all three candidates in the tight primary battle: St. Louis businessman John Brunner, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and Mr. Akin.


But in a possible hint at her preferred opponent, Mrs. McCaskill focused on Mr. Akin’s conservative credentials, calling him “the most conservative congressman in Missouri” and criticizing his support for privatizing Social Security, his “pro-family” agenda and the support he’s expressed for eliminating the departments of education and energy.

“Todd Akin — Missouri’s true conservative is just too conservative,” the ad concludes.

But in her two other 30-second ads, Mrs. McCaskill chose to slam Mr. Brunner over his business decisions and level charges of political corruption at Mrs. Steelman.

“In direct violation of Sunshine Laws, hundreds of key documents from Steelman’s office have gone missing,” a male narrator says in one ad. “Sarah Steelman — just more of the same.”

It’s unclear whether any one of the three Republicans has an edge in the race, since no polls have been taken since early June. Mrs. Steelman was holding a slight advantage at the time, but both she and Mr. Brunner have aired a slew of attack ads since then.

The candidate who wins the August 7 primary will go on to compete against Mrs. McCaskill, who could face a tough fight as she tries to hold on to her seat in a race that could help determine control of the Senate next year.