Todd Akin Should Withdraw From The Missouri Race

Mr. Potato Head could probably take Claire McCaskill’s Senate seat from her this year. So, it should be a slam dunk and it probably would have been until Todd Akin said this,

Charles Jaco: “Okay, so if an abortion can be considered in the case of, say, tubal pregnancy or something like that, what about in the case of rape? Should it be legal or not?”

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.):“Well, you know, uh, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, ‘Well, how do you — how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question.’

“It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

“But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Akin was apparently trying to get across that percentage wise, there aren’t a lot of abortions that can be traced back to rape, which is true. He also noted that the child that’s being aborted under those circumstances isn’t responsible for the rape, which is also true. That being said, Akin’s comments were also extremely offensive and ignorant. There are a lot of people, including many conservatives, who were appalled by what he said.

This is a huge problem politically in that Akin has to withdraw today by 5 PM EST or the GOP can’t replace him on the ticket….maybe.

But tomorrow is not the end-all and be-all. Missouri election law gurus tell me there are actually two time lines. Tomorrow at 5 p.m. is the deadline for the no fuss-no-muss withdrawal. But there is another opportunity as well. Sept. 25 is the deadline for withdrawal by court order. (That procedure includes the requirement that any costs for reprinting ballots be covered by the withdrawing candidate.) In either case, a replacement would be chosen by the state GOP central committee.

Now would a court allow Akin to drop out after tomorrow? The statute reads that “if there is no additional cost for the printing or reprinting of ballots, or if the candidate agrees to pay any printing or reprinting costs, a candidate who has filed or is nominated for an office may, at any time after the time limits set forth in subsection 1 of this section but no later than 5:00 p.m. on the sixth Tuesday before the election, withdraw as a candidate pursuant to a court order, which, except for good cause shown by the election authority in opposition thereto, shall be freely given upon application by the candidate to the circuit court in the county of such candidate’s residence. No withdrawal pursuant to this subsection shall be effective until such candidate files a copy of the court’s order in the office of the official who accepted such candidate’s declaration of candidacy.”

It is not clear what the basis for such a court order would be. But I expect the party could round up a favorable judge.

What happens if Akin doesn’t withdraw? Is it all over? Not necessarily. Akin’s comments were stupid, but politicians survive similarly stupid comments all the time. What that means is that seat probably goes from a 90/10 chance of a Republican pick-up to a 75/25 chance of a Democratic hold if he stays in. Aside from the damage this comment does to Akin’s numbers, the RNC, NRSC, and groups like Crossroads are going to be very reluctant to put resources into the race from this point on and there probably aren’t going to be a lot of Republican politicians willing to stump for him. Would it put Missouri in play or hurt candidates all across the country? I seriously doubt it because Republicans all across the country are landing on Akin with both feet. Moreover, Missouri isn’t shifting back to the Democratic Party this year either. It’s tilting too far our way.

So, why should Akin withdraw when Democrats seem to get away with saying similarly stupid things all the time? Because he said something so foolish and offensive that it will more than likely cost us that Senate seat and another candidate, like Sarah Steelman, could save it. Is it fair that Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren can continue on while Todd Akin probably shouldn’t? Nope. Is Todd Akin a horrible person because of his comments? Nope. In fact, he’d make a much better senator than Claire McCaskill. Unfortunately, the reality is what it is: Running for office is a big popularity contest and Akin hurt himself badly — and that’s his fault. In the end, the media didn’t screw Todd Akin; neither did his fellow Republicans. Todd Akin screwed Todd Akin with his dumb comment.

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