Yesterday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced in a statement that it might yet fund the candidacy of Representative Todd Akin as he tries to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri. “As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead,” said NRSC executive director Rob Jesner. (In August, the NRSC claimed that “if [Akin] continues with this misguided campaign, it will be without the support and resources of the NRSC.”)
Will the NRSC actually go through with this, and thus likely bring American Crossroads and other big-money outside groups into the fray? I reasoned yesterday that this won’t happen, because (1) Akin probably can’t win, so this would be a waste of resources, and (2) it would tar other Republican candidates also funded by these groups.
The NRSC’s flip may indicate it has some data showing Akin can actually prevail, a worrying thought indeed. But make no mistake—if the NRSC does jump in behind Akin again, it will create enormous pressure on several Republicans running for Senate, particularly incumbents.
As soon as the NRSC statement went out yesterday afternoon, Democrats began the inevitable guilt-by-association campaign. “All Republican candidates across the country are now going to have to answer for their party’s support of Akin,” said Senator Patty Murray, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “In case you were wondering whether the Republican party was anti-woman, now you know…they are,” tweeted Matt Canter, the group’s communications director.
Today, the DSCC found an ingenious and more direct way to implicate some incumbent Republican Senatorial candidates in the Akin fiasco, particularly Senator Scott Brown. It’s common for high-profile senators to raise money for the NRSC, in part so that it may help fund the candidacies of lower-profile challengers. (Like, say, Akin). The DSCC noted today that Brown has helped raise a whopping $3.7 million for the NRSC this cycle.
Since Brown previously called Akin’s comments “outrageous, inappropriate, and wrong,” and asked him to withdraw from the Senate race, the DSCC is calling on Brown to get his money back from the NRSC and denounce Akin once again:
“There should be no doubt that a vote for Scott Brown is also a vote for an anti-woman party that supports extremists like Todd Akin,” said Guy Cecil, Executive Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Todd Akin’s views represent the official position of the Republican Party, and a vote for Brown is a vote to inflict that anti-woman agenda on the entire country. Brown’s silence speaks volumes. Brown should immediately demand his money back and renounce the party’s decision to embrace Todd Akin.”
Renouncing Akin again might be easy for Brown—though he hasn’t yet done it—but asking for that large chunk of money back won’t be. And if Brown doesn’t, Elizabeth Warren can now fairly say Brown helped fund Akin’s candidacy. This is an incredibly tough position for Brown, and it’s a squeeze likely to be put on other candidates in the days ahead if the NRSC actually pulls the trigger. (The DSCC is similarly targeting Nevada Senator Dean Heller, too, as he’s locked in a tight re-election battle and also raised money for the NRSC).
The NRSC might still back Akin, but the polls will have to look awful, awful good—because it’s making life a lot more difficult for a number of other candidates who still have a chance to win.