Akin stays in #MOSen race – but all hope is not lost for a GOP takeover of the Senate

In spite of rumors to the contrary reported last night, embattled US House Rep. Todd Akin announced on Mike Huckabee’s radio show earlier today that he was going to stay in the  Senate race after all:

“I believe that we can win this,” Akin said, citing a “tremendous outpouring of support” from individual donors even as party heavyweights freeze him out.

The Republican congressman is facing a 5 p.m. deadline to withdraw — after that, he would need a court order to have his name removed from the ballot.

But Akin rebuffed calls late Monday to step aside and let another Republican candidate take his place. Instead, his campaign released a new ad in which Akin looks into the camera and addresses the controversy surrounding his remarks.

“Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize,” he said in the ad. “As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. And I pray for them. The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims.

“The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness,” he said. The video was released after Akin canceled a scheduled television interview Monday night.

Akin’s ad, and claims Monday that he’s “going to stay in,” defied Republican Party leaders who are nervous the controversy could imperil their chances of taking control of the Senate after the November elections. Akin is challenging Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill in a race considered key to a GOP Senate majority come 2013.

A source within the National Republican Senatorial Committee told Fox News that Sen. John Cornyn, head of the Senate GOP campaign arm, already has told Akin that if he stays in the race, the $5 million set aside for the Missouri race will be withdrawn. Cornyn, according to the source, told him the party is concerned his presence in the race could hurt Republicans’ chances of winning the Senate majority.

It definitely makes winning the Senate more difficult, but not impossible – as the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll notes:

Democrats currently have just a three seat 53-47 majority in the Senate. If Romney wins, thus making Paul Ryan the 51st vote in the event of a 50-50 tie for Senate control, then Republicans only need to win a net of three seats. That’s doable. Here are there best pick up targets:

Nebraska – State Senator Deb Fischer is beating former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey by double-digits.
Missouri
North Dakota – Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., leads former state attorney general Heidi Heitkamp by 5.
Montana – Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., leads Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., by 4.
Wisconsin – Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, R, leads Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., by 4.
Virginia – Former-Gov. Tim Kaine, D, narrowly leads former-Gov. George Allen by half a point.
Florida – Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Fla., is narrowly beating Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., by two-and-a-half points.

And here are the Republicans most vulnerable holds:
Maine – Former Gov. Angus King is crushing Secretary of State Charles Summers by 27.
Massachusetts – Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., is narrowly beating Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren by under one point.

So if Republicans lose Maine and Massachusetts, but pick up Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, and Virginia or Florida, they will still control the Senate. And if Brown holds on in Massachusetts, then Republicans can lose in Virginia and Florida and still win control of the Senate.

I think Akin staying in was a bad move – not just for any shred of credibility he had hoped to hold on to (his and his campaign’s attempts to minimize the damage have been pitiful) but also for the GOP on the whole, as him staying in after his epically stupid comments on rape and pregnancy will escalate even more the left’s attempts (in concert with the MSM) to make this election about the phony “war on women” nonsense rather than the key issue of the economy and this President’s lousy record on that – and other – fronts.  But knowing that a GOP majority in the Senate is still within reach lessens the pain of him staying in.

That said, it surrrrrrre would have bee nice for the GOP to be able to defeat McCaskill.  Not saying it won’t happen, but the chances now are slim and none.  Ah well.

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