Sharp differences exist between Akin, McCaskill
The Kansas City Star
Bellwether status may have passed Missouri by, but the big political bucks certainly won’t when it comes to the U.S. Senate race.
Claire McCaskill, tagged as the most vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbent in America, will face Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, tagged as a B-team player for the GOP, in November.
Brace yourself. The barrage of ads is well under way, with millions of dollars (many with undisclosed sources) already expended trying to smear the first-term McCaskill as unworthy of re-election.
It’s incumbent on Missourians to dig behind the accusations in search of real records. And with this matchup, we are fortunate to have real records.
Akin is a St. Louis County six-term U.S. House incumbent, engineer and former state lawmaker. He has a 100 percent conservative voting record, flaunts his tea party acolyte role and runs far to the right on many issues, especially religious conservative positions. While he presents himself as a fiscal conservative, his record shows he embraces earmarks, regularly rewarding his hometown businesses such as Boeing.
McCaskill is a former Jackson County prosecutor, state auditor and now U.S. Senator. She has a record as a fighter of crime, of government waste, and for more protections for the average consumer, including the right to affordable, accessible health care.
The race couldn’t be more stark. While it may be wishful thinking, we’ll place a few markers for what we’d like to hear in the next 89 days about these priorities:
The economic recovery is still fragile. What would each candidate favor as the best ways to encourage more job growth in Missouri and the nation? What role should the federal government play in helping the long-term unemployed and other job seekers? McCaskill supported extending unemployment benefits during the peak of the recession to protect workers unable to find jobs; Akin opposed the extension.
If the Affordable Care Act were repealed, as Akin prefers, exactly what would take its place and what’s the timetable? Thousands of Missourians have pre-existing conditions making it difficult and expensive to obtain health insurance. How will both candidates make sure Missourians have good care and affordable insurance?
Why continue the practice of no-bid earmarks to entities (often major donors) outside of competitive bidding processes? McCaskill opposes earmarks; Akin supports them.
McCaskill has led an effort to scrutinize government defense spending. She has put her former auditor skills to effective use digging out problems. Akin hasn’t made a name for himself in this arena, but is known as a supporter of many expensive military procurement plans.
Gridlock and partisan bickering are now hallmarks of Washington. McCaskill came into office pledging to soften the resistance, and came up with a plan to mix up staff seating in committee hearings as way to encourage dialogue. Akin is a hardliner, demonstrating little inclination or interest in finding compromise on the testiest issues.
The matchup is one that McCaskill backers wished for. It’s insider-vs.-insider. McCaskill has run statewide several times, and is the better-known of the two. Akin is particularly lesser known in the Kansas City region.
The heavy-hitters of the far right, including Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers, are sure to dump many millions more into the race on behalf of Akin. McCaskill can expect big Democratic donors will come to her side in a major way.
McCaskill can be counted on to wage a smart, tough race. Akin, demonstrably less personable and skilled on the stump, will hope the national fundraising can boost his name and ultra-right positions into the next higher office.
One of America’s most-watched races has begun, one that will help determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
To both candidates: Do us all a favor by clearly, specifically, defining your vision for the future. To voters: Pay attention and have your say on Nov. 6.