JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Congressman Todd Akin won a hard-fought Republican primary Tuesday for the right to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in November.
Akin topped businessman John Brunner and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman in a primary in which all three leading candidates portrayed themselves as the top conservative choice.
McCaskill was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
The GOP needs to net four seats from Democrats to gain control of the Senate and Republicans viewed McCaskill as among their top targets this year.
The 65-year-old Akin first won election to a suburban St. Louis seat in the House in 2000 after narrowly prevailing in a five-way Republican primary. He campaigned for Senate by highlighting that he was once ranked as the most conservative member of Missouri's congressional delegation.
Akin may have also gained some support from McCaskill, who ran a TV ad focused on Akin's conservative credentials while concluding he is too conservative.
In Missouri, all three Senate hopefuls lambasted McCaskill for what they say are her close ties to President Barack Obama and, in particular, her vote for Obama's signature health care law. The race took on a different dynamic in recent days as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — two of the GOP's most prominent faces — lent their backing to candidates.
Palin supported Steelman, while Huckabee threw his support to Akin.