February 14, 2016

Former Senate candidate Brunner calls political system ‘broken’

After losing in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, St. Louis businessman John Brunner says he’s learned the deck is stacked against political newcomers.

Former U.S. Senate candidate John Brunner.

Former U.S. Senate candidate John Brunner.

Brunner is still busy in politics, but his focus now is on supporting others. He says there are people like state lawmakers, people who lost in the last election and those looking at getting into politics that need inspiration and guidance, which he believes he can offer.

But, he calls the political system “broken,” saying it works against the success of anyone but career politicians.

“It takes so many resources to be able to run an effective campaign, so if you are not full-time in politics spending a whole career building your name I.D., using other people’s money campaign after campaign after campaign, you’re locked out. On the other reverse, you find people who start in politics, spend their entire career and they leave multi-millionaires. That’s wrong as well.”

Still, Brunner says he believes people with backgrounds outside of politics need to get involved in their government.

“At any level, you’re going to have to find people that are willing to get involved and get engaged and see how you can help them, but I tell you … the money hurdle is very difficult and it makes me sick that that’s what’s preventing a lot of good people from getting involved in public office.”

Brunner lost the Republican nomination for Senate to Todd Akin, who went on to lose the Senate seat to incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill. Brunner doesn’t say whether he thinks Akin’s controversial comments, including some about abortion, played a role in that outcome.

“I go back to the fundamentals. You have to be organized, you have to have a team, you have to pull people together and regrettably we didn’t have the organization and support in terms of our ability to get the ball across the goal line, and I think a lot of people have recognized that we can’t beat each other up in primaries if we plan to have any kind of victory in the general election.”

Brunner says he doesn’t know if he’ll run for anything again.

Missouri House leader assesses the 2012 general election, Akin effect

The election last week left the leaders of the House and the Senate effectively the most powerful Republicans in the state. Their party lost all the statewide races except the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, but gained enough seats in the House that in both chambers the GOP could overturn a governor’s veto without a single Democrat vote.

House Speaker TIm Jones (R-Eureka)

House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) considers what his party must do it if wants to succeed in future elections. He says first, it must look closely at where it did and didn’t fare well in the 2012 cycle.

“I don’t think either party can say they’ve got control everywhere or their agenda is everywhere. The nation is truly a 50/50 nation and whoever has the best message on the margins is where they pick up. That being said, Republicans need to look at the places where they’ve had success and they need to incorporate that into a national message.”

Jones says when one looks at the election on a county-by-county basis, much of the nation broke down as it did in Missouri.

“There’s a supermajority swath of Republican voters throughout the middle … and most of the state, actually … and then you have in the inner urban core is where your blue areas are, and it’s very similar to the country as a whole.”

He points out, more races at the state government level went to the GOP.

“Republicans … have a majority of the governorships … in addition, more state legislatures than ever before are Republican. So it’s interesting to note that in the elections that are closest to the people: the legislatures, the governors, Republicans have the edge.”

Jones says the impact of Todd Akin on the Missouri electorate in the recently completed election cycle can not be understated. 

“We saw it in our polling … Missouri went overwhelmingly for Governor Romney, but then you saw a 10 point positive … over a 10 point positive for Governor Romney and then in many areas you saw a 10 point or more negative for Todd Akin. That is a 20 point plus swing. That is dramatic. You can not honestly look at that and say, ‘Oh, that’s just an accident,’ or ‘Oh, that doesn’t mean anything.’ It meant a great deal.”

He says of Akin’s comments that a woman’s body can shut down a pregnancy when she is raped, “If the comments hadn’t been made, if that had not been the focus of the election … which it really was, from beginning to end. You just kept hearing those comments being replayed both in campaign literature, driven heavily by the media … I think we would have had a very different election night here in Missouri. I think there would have been longer coattails and more of (the GOP’s) statewide contenders would have been successful.”


Akin supporters express surprise at Senate bid loss (VIDEO)

Shock, surprise and disappointment: those are the feelings expressed by the supporters of Republican Congressman Todd Akin at his campaign’s watch party after hearing him concede the race for the U.S. Senate. He lost to Democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill by nearly 421,000 votes.

Click the image to go to the video of Todd Akin’s concession speech.

Akin began his concession speech by saying, “Things don’t always turn out the way you think they’re going to.”

One supporter echoed his sense of surprise. “I was confident that he was going to win.” When asked to explain her confidence, she pointed to the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare alone … just that one issue and how many Missourians did not want it and how Claire McCaskill voted for it anyway. That’s what the shocking part of it is.”

Akin had been favored by several points over McCaskill before saying in August a doctor had told him a woman’s body can shut down a pregnancy in a case of rape. Addison Todd of St. Charles considered the role those comments played in the outcome. “I don’t know that it necessarily cost him, as in that was the entirety of his loss, but he certainly would have had a better chance without the comments obviously. But, I know that there’s a strong base of people that supported him despite the comments even though the party kinda turned their back on him and then came back a little bit.”

Campaign Staffer Samuel Saffa of Defiance says it’s particularly surprising when considering how the vote for President went in Missouri. “I was, frankly, shocked to see Mitt Romney come across so strongly in Missouri and Todd Akin to lose … I think it came out a million, plus votes for Romney and we barely scraped the 600,000 mark for Akin.”

Besides expressing frustration at the loss, Akin’s backers said he stuck to his principles and said their candidate left no doubt where he stood on issues.

Akin concedes to McCaskill (AUDIO)

U.S. Senate Republican candidate Todd Akin has conceded the race to incumbent Claire McCaskill. With roughly 50% of the precincts reporting, McCaskill was leading 51.2% to 42.1%.  Earlier in the evening, supporters of Akin were being told to remain confident despite the fact that Fox News, CBS and NBC had projected McCaskill the winner with on 21% of the votes counted.

AUDIO Akin’s speech (8:00)

Akin at home, will attend campaign party later tonight

People are just beginning to show up at the Todd Akin campaign party.

Missouri Senate hopeful and Congressman Todd Akin is at home this evening, watching as election results come in.

Campaign spokesman Ryan Hite says Akin has taken most of the day to rest, but did come by the campaign headquarters and caught up with friends and supporters on the phone. He will be at the campaign party at the Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield later this evening.