Steve Kraske | What counts after the vote

Steve Kraske
Steve Kraske

The post-primary rundown:

• The plan for Sen. Claire McCaskill: Define Rep. Todd Akin before he defines her. She stopped in Missouri’s biggest media markets this week to do just that. On Monday, she launches a statewide tour.

No naps between now and November, she says.

Akin took the week off after the primary, though he talked on the radio and presumably raised money. He’s the favorite, but time off wouldn’t have been my choice.

This campaign will boil down to one question: Who’s the topic of conversation? If it’s Akin, he loses, because voters will be talking about how conservative he is. If it’s McCaskill, she loses, because voters will be talking about how liberal she is.

• McCaskill’s goal, analysts agree, is no mistakes. To that end, she called Akin, a man of deep faith, “pleasant” and “sincere.” She didn’t blink when asked how she voted on Amendment 2, the prayer issue on Tuesday’s ballot, which passed easily, though with more Republican than Democratic support. She voted


it. No harm backing it because the proposal largely duplicated current law.

“I’m all for prayer,” she said.

• The big winner? Voters. What a clear choice.

I’ve never seen this before. This week, McCaskill launched a website at TruthAboutAkin.com that lays out the congressman’s stands on lots of issues.

The typical response from a candidate like Akin who is the target of such a website is to trash it. But Akin’s spokesman said he had no problem with the site.

“What it looks like is basically things they consider bad, but we don’t,” he said.

Two candidates. Two visions.

• The biggest winner: Gov. Sam Brownback. He did something that no Kansas governor has ever done by campaigning openly against a squadron of Senate candidates from his own party — and won.

Brownback has taken risky moves before, beginning with his decision to run for the Senate in 1996, and he has triumphed every time.

If he had lost Tuesday, the state Senate would have undermined every one of his initiatives.

How did a governor whose job approval ratings are as shaky as Brownback’s pull it off? Simple. Conservatives vote in primaries. Moderates not so much. Brownback knew that.

He also wagered that even though Kansas government has been chopped relentlessly in recent years, the conservative push for even smaller government still resonates.

Blame President Barack Obama for that. His big-government aura energizes conservatives.

• You can win, but still lose. Case in point: Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who beat back a tough challenge from Brad Lager but now is damaged goods.

• Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, whose tax plans won voter approval Tuesday? One popular dude.

• Number of bottles of Germ-X hand sanitizer that Republican John Brunner had to sell to cover the $7.5 million he poured into his losing Senate race: 35,479,235, give or take a few million.