Sarah Palin’s winning streak ends with Missouri’s Steelman
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is apparently no Midas after all.
In four GOP Senate primaries and the Wisconsin recall race, her chosen candidate emerged victorious.
And then came former Missouri state treasurer Sarah Steelman. Steelman came in third Tuesday in a three-way race for the Republican nomination to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in November.
Not that Palin didn’t give the Missouri race her best effort. She cut several radio ads for Steelman, made a personal visit to the state and effusively praised Steelman for her mavericky refusal to go-along to get-along, a message designed to appeal to the tea party supporters Steelman needed.
But it was not enough.
Steelman received 29.2 percent of the vote, compared to 30 percent for businessman John Brunner. Both trailed Rep. Todd Akin, who captured the nomination with 36 percent of the vote.
Steelman had been behind in polls leading into Election Day. Had she pulled out a surprise victory, Palin’s support would have certainly been credited as the decisive factor in the race.
The loss could suggest Palin’s other successes this year came as she joined campaigns that were already surging rather than from her influence over the conservative electorate. Palin-backed winners Ted Cruz in Texas and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, for instance, hardly lacked for high power conservative support.
On the other hand, Steelman did outperform her late polls and only narrowly trailed Brunner, who had spent nearly $8 million of his own money selling himself to Missourians. There’s no telling how Steelman would have fared without Palin’s intervention.
And the election year is not yet over. Martha Zoller, Palin’s pick for the GOP nominee in Georgia’s 9th congressional district will face a run-off election Aug. 21. Palin has also backed Rep. Jeff Flake in a tough Aug. 28 race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Arizona.
And, notably, she’s supporting freshman Rep. Sandy Adams in her effort to take down veteran Florida Rep. John Mica, in a rare member-on-member Aug. 14 race required by redistricting.
Her continued influence might best be measured by this: Win or lose, Republicans are still begging for her endorsement.