Todd, we hardly knew ye.
Last week, the former Missouri congressman Todd Akin, who blew his 2012 Senate race against Democrat Claire McCaskill after he asserted that women can't get pregnant from a "legitimate rape," teased a comeback bid by leaving the door open to challenging GOP Sen. Roy Blunt in next year's Republican primary. “I think there is a high level of dissatisfaction among conservatives, that they have to some degree been pushed out of the Republican Party,” Akin said. "The sentiment is there. The Tea Party is skeptical and wants some fresh blood, not just the same establishment guys.”
Score one for the establishment guys: Akin announced on Monday that he won't be running after all. "In response to various questions: I will not be running for the U.S. Senate in 2016," he said in a statement.
That sound you hear is Republicans letting out a collective sigh of relief. It's not that Akin posed a serious threat to Blunt; as I wrote last week, Blunt's conservative voting record, the GOP establishment's contempt for Akin, and their consequent willingness to spend big against him all but ensured that the incumbent would have prevailed. But even if Akin never stood much of a chance, his candidacy would have put his incendiary statements about rape and other social issues front-and-center; as he discussed the possibility of another Senate run last week, Akin vowed that he'd run as an unabashed culture warrior.
While he won't be facing Akin in the primary, Blunt may have a tough general election battle on his hands. The Democratic Party is quickly lining up behind 33-year-old Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who announced his campaign last month. Blunt starts out with the edge; a late February poll showed him leading Kander by 13 points, taking 49 percent of the vote to Kander's 36 percent. But with Blunt below 50 percent -- and Democrats hoping that their brand will be less toxic in Missouri in the post-Obama era -- the senator is hardly a shoo-in.