This afternoon, embattled Missouri Senate nominee Todd Akin, who has made quite a mess of what looked like a good pickup opportunity for the Republicans, went on Fox with Mike Huckabee to, on the one hand, apologize profusely for his ludicrous comments about rape but, on the other hand, also to insist he will stay in the race. He claims no one has called for him to get out.
Well, maybe he should check his voice mail or turn on the TV. Republican Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Scott Brown (Mass.) deplored the remarks and called for Akin to exit the race before tomorrow’s voluntary deadline for rounding up a replacement. New Mexico Senate nominee Heather Wilson just did the same.
A pro-life group, the Susan B. Anthony List, foolishly put out a statement of support. I’m sure someone will explain that a pro-life candidate in Missouri who can win can be rounded up.
More important, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, issued a statement designed to shove Akin over the edge: “Congressman Akin’s statements were wrong, offensive, and indefensible. I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next twenty-four hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service.”
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.
That said, the quicker Akin departs, the better. I suspect he’s being told he won’t get financial support from the party nor help from other officeholders or candidates. Cornyn, no doubt, is hoping reality will set in quickly.
UPDATE (3:36 p.m.): A GOP aide tells Right Turn that Akin was told he “gets no assistance, no money, no surrogate.” Akin has tweeted that he is staying in the race, but one senses that is not his final answer.