Strong Republican candidates entered hotly contested U.S. Senate races in Missouri and North Dakota today, giving the GOP a boost in its quest to take back the upper chamber in 2012.
Missouri Congressman Todd Akin said today that he will challenge Democrat Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat in 2012. His entry sets up a GOP primary with former Missouri state Treasurer Sarah Steelman. St. Louis businessman John Brunner is also reportedly considering a bid for the GOP nomination.
McCaskill, a first-term Democrat, is considered a major GOP target, but the national party has indicated it plans on putting up a fight for the Show Me State seat. In a statement Tuesday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee labelled Akin “Big Oil Todd”, lambasting him for “taking $47,000 in campaign cash from the oil and gas industry.”
In North Dakota, U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, a first-term Republican, announced he will make a bid for the state’s open Senate seat, currently held by retiring Democrat Kent Conrad.
Despite his short career in the House, Berg is now the frontrunner to replace Conrad, one of the Senate’s most conservative Democrats. Republicans have long seen deep-red North Dakota as an easy Senate seat pick up.