The Record Blog

Thursday, March 8, 2012

GOP Primary Divides Establishment

[ Patrick Tuohey ]

David Catanese's POLITICO piece was titled, Why Schweich Would Be Good For Steelman, but it could have just as easily been titled, John Brunner Fails To Impress.

But POLITICO has learned that Danforth and GOP megadonor Sam Fox are behind the push and are drafting a letter urging Schweich to get into the race and asking the party to coalesce around him as the best chance to defeat first-term Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

A Schweich bid could represent the biggest threat to Brunner, who some in political circles are now privately comparing to Rick Perry -- another candidate with sky high expectations who flopped once thrust under the limelight.

Brunner started his campaign on lock-down. He missed the two first candidate debates preferring more controlled settings, and spent at least $12,000 on media training. He hired professional campaign marketers and is trying to keep his hands clean of negative campaigning. But that last effort seemed to fall flat when it gave a rival campaign the chance to quip, "I'm afraid Mr. Brunner doesn't know how to read a budget," striking directly at his supposed business acumen. Brunner is learning that campaigns cannot sell candidates like companies sell, well, soap.

Steelman has said on the stump that she is the candidate that the establishment GOP fears most, and she may be right. Men with more acceptable GOP pedigrees keep challenging her, and keep failing to impress.

"What's better than two guys from St. Louis running against Sarah?  Three guys from St. Louis running against Sarah," mused one longtime campaign hand who has been through several statewide efforts.

However (or perhaps 'Therefore'), Steelman seems to be the candidate big donors fear most, too. Her fundraising has been lackluster, to put it kindly. Enter House Speaker Steven Tilley. Some Tea Party folks are questioning the wisdom of Steelman's placing him atop her campaign, bristling that Tilley has helped shepherd through the House some questionable bills (e.g. Aerotropolis). More than likely, however, Tilley just sees that Steelman has the best chance of winning the primary. For conservatives wary of his role in the campaign, they should consider it a great success that while conservatives are usually told to support the party leadership, this time a party leader is falling in behind the conservative.

3/8/2012 5:37:13 PM

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Reader Comments (1)
I like Steelman, she is smart and capable. I even gave her a couple bucks when she announced her candidacy. Then I heard her do a radio interview and she sounded completely unprepared. Not saying she WAS unprepared, the thing is she SOUNDED unprepared. Seeing her in person only reinforces this belief. In front of a crowd she's nervous and jittery, add in a microphone and camera and it just gets worse. And Brunner, also a fine man I'm sure, but until I see evidence to the contrary, ya gotta think the obvious is probably true. He is a rich guy on an ego trip trying to buy a senate seat. Todd Akin has a great story, though. He's a strong if not riveting speaker, an Army veteran, degrees in engineering and theology, experience in the private sector, experience in government, a completely approachable 'regular guy' citizen legislator, exactly what we all claim to want. Steelman and Brunner have been fighting amongst themselves since Lincoln Days, meanwhile Team Akin cruises along above the fray yet under the radar while snagging a high profile endorsement from Governor Mike Huckabee. That said, all this talk about the 'weak Republican field' is bunk. We have an Economist, an Engineer, and a Captain of Industry. What's missing? Oh, my, no lawyers, of course. Now it makes sense why old John Danforth is so worried, we can't possibly send someone to Washington DC who is not in the Lawyer's club.
3/9/2012 2:33:41 PM  Kevin Sheely  , Independence, MO

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