- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2012

O’FALLON, Mo. — Rep. W. Todd Akin has one week left to decide whether he’s staying in the Missouri U.S. Senate race, and the Tuesday deadline holds fear and hope for the congressman who would face a barrage of new attacks from Democrats by staying but might win support of some conservative groups that have been sitting on the sideline.

Mr. Akin has spent the past month insisting he’ll stay in the race despite pressure from national Republicans to drop out after his comments about women’s bodies rejecting pregnancies from “legitimate rape.”

Once the Sept. 25 deadline for him to go to court to remove his name passes, analysts said he should expect Democrats to unload attacks on some of his other statements.

“I think in the Valley of Death during the Crimean War, the Russian guns kind of waited for the British to rush, and I think that’s what you’re hearing now, a lot of silence on the battlements,” said University of Missouri political science professor David Robertson, referring to the famous Battle of Balaclava that left nearly half the British troops wounded or dead.

But Mr. Akin’s campaign hopes the deadline will bring good news in the form of new allies who decide they cannot pass up a chance to unseat a Democrat.

“I’m sure there are people who are waiting to see if we’re in the race before they come in,” said Akin spokesman Ryan Hite.

Still, most groups have ruled it out.

The Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the largest super PACs — including Crossroads GPS — have vowed to stay out of the race. So has the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and FreedomWorks, which reconfirmed to The Washington Times on Tuesday that it is staying out of the race.

And the Club for Growth and Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund also have indicated they don’t plan to invest in the race.

There’s little doubt that with Mr. Akin staying in, the clear advantage belongs to Sen. Claire McCaskill, the incumbent who bought $3 million in ad time for the final month before the election.

For now, she’s playing it safe, waiting to blast Mr. Akin over the airwaves until his name is guaranteed to appear on the November ballot.

Mr. Akin, meanwhile, is trying to stretch the $425,000 in grass-roots donations he raised after losing support from the national party.

Some analysts say the temptation to win the seat will prove too great for Republicans to remain on the sideline. The NRSC canceled $5 million in advertising after Mr. Akin’s controversial comments, but the size of the buy they had been planning underscores the opportunity they saw in Missouri to pick up the seat.

“It’s going to be awfully tempting for the National Republican Senatorial Committee not to come in with a multimillion-dollar buy, because this is going to be in all likelihood the place that could tip the balance,” said Terry Jones, another political science professor at the University of Missouri. “Obviously, that is what Akin is hoping.”

Fierce Senate races are being waged in Virginia and Connecticut, giving Republicans other shots to take over the chamber. Missouri may no longer be a top priority now that polls show Mr. Akin lagging several points behind Mrs. McCaskill.

“Those organizations are going to be looking at winning other states, too,” Mr. Robertson said. “Massachusetts might be more winnable than Missouri, the Virginia race is going to require a lot of money. There are better bets for these groups to make than Missouri.”

The Akin campaign did receive some good news last week, when the Missouri Farm Bureau announced it wouldn’t withdraw its endorsement and bought nearly $20,000 in radio ads for Mr. Akin and Dave Spence, the Republican candidate for governor.

Mr. Akin also had enough funds to launch a new ad this week, attacking Mrs. McCaskill over her vote for the health care law. This month, he’s spent more than $100,000 on TV ads in the state’s major metropolitan areas of St. Louis and Kansas City, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission.

But that pales in comparison to Mrs. McCaskill, who has spent nearly $600,000 running ads in St. Louis and Kansas City during the same time period. She also has reserved hundreds of television spots next month.

Mr. Akin doesn’t deny he’ll be heavily overspent, telling voters last week that they need to base their support on how each candidate has voted in Congress, not on what they see on TV.

“Pretty soon, there’s going to be $10 million worth of advertising saying Todd’s a terrible guy,” he said, speaking in Dexter, Mo. “The main thing you got to remember is keep your eyes on how people vote.”

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