Missouri GOP may be 'irrational' enough to throw away a key Senate seat: St. Louis columnist

Republicans have a very narrow path in their efforts to win back the U.S. Senate in the 2020 midterms and local dynamics in Missouri could compromise their efforts.

While the Senate is currently split 50-50, the dynamic of six year terms resulting in only some members running in a given election has created a situation where Republicans are defending 20 seats in 2020, compared to just 14 for Democrats.

And one Missouri columnist wonders if Republicans in the Show Me State may repeat a similar mistake like the one that cost them a chance at a Senate seat a decade ago.

"Nine years ago, Missouri Republicans, saddled with a clearly unfit U.S. Senate nominee in Todd Akin, showed they were still capable of setting aside blind partisanship when it mattered. The possible Senate candidacy of Eric Greitens could become a test of whether that's still true. The omens aren't good," Kevin McDermott wrote for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Akin, recall, was the Republican congressman from the St. Louis suburbs who, in 2012, seemed a shoo-in to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Then, less than three months before the general election, Akin, a longtime anti-abortion-rights activist, was asked on a local newscast whether he would make exceptions for women impregnated by rapists," he reminded. "His response was a marvel of medical nonsense. He claimed it's 'really rare' for rape victims to become pregnant, adding: 'If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.' No, it actually doesn't. And the bonkers suggestion that women would be out there en masse falsely crying rape if that's what it took to abort their fetuses was a perfect example of the deep vein of misogyny running through the social-conservative movement."

The Democrat won by 15 points after Akin refused to leave the ticket.

McDermott argued that the situation is even worse for the GOP as former Gov. Greitens explores a comeback.

"To be clear, Greitens, the former Missouri governor, isn't Akin — he's worse. Akin made a boneheaded comment indicative of a Neanderthal worldview, but he wasn't accused of assaulting or blackmailing anyone. Greitens was credibly accused of both," he wrote. "To review: In early 2018, Greitens was accused of slapping, restraining and threatening his hairdresser three years earlier during an extramarital affair with her. Among her allegations was that, while she was taped partially nude to an exercise machine, he took a photo of her without her consent and threatened to publicize it if she ever revealed their affair."

Now Greitens is considering a bid for the seat left open by the retirement of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).

"That's terrifying to Republican leaders, because the GOP path to take back the Senate in 2022 is already narrow. Politico reports that Greitens' possible candidacy 'is giving Republicans nightmarish flashbacks to 2012' and the Todd Akin debacle," he wrote. "The hand-wringers reportedly include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. One GOP strategist called Greitens a 'clear and present danger' to the party's Senate strategy."

The worries of GOP leaders reveal fears over their own base.

"Why do Republican leaders even think that their own base — the people who vote in GOP primaries — would do something as irrational as nominating Greitens to the Senate? It's difficult to come up with any reason except that even they suspect what a lot of us suspect: that in the age of Trump, the Republican base is no longer rational," McDermott wrote. "If Greitens does indeed seek the nomination, we'll find out whether that's true."