As recently as Friday, polls of Missouri showed incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill facing a tough re-election race against St. Louis Congressman Todd Akin. Over the past several years Congressman Akin had made multiple comments which were outrageous, and Democrats had hopes that, once Missouri got to know the Todd Akin that we knew, the numbers would turn around.
Then Todd Akin opened his mouth and explained what he thought about allowing victims of rape to get an abortion. Twenty-four hours later, the national party is begging Todd Akin to get out of the race.
There are several key dates upcoming that could influence whether Representative Akin does the honorable thing or if he tries to struggle on and overcome his own political beliefs.
First, Missouri allows a candidate who has been nominated by a political party to withdraw no later than 5:00 p.m. on the eleventh Tuesday prior to the general election which just happens to be this Tuesday. One caveat, the section requires that the withdrawing candidate have been nominated. However, a candidate is not nominated until the election results have been certified. Certification takes place within two weeks of the Secretary of State receiving the abstracts of returns for all of the counties and the counties can only submit the results after the county verification board meets, and the counties have two weeks to complete the verification process. In other words, Tuesday is the deadline for the counties to finish the verification process, and the Secretary of State does not need to certify the results until next Tuesday. So it is unclear that Representative Akin can officially withdraw at this point.
Assuming that he does, the State Republican Committee would then have two weeks to meet (after official notice is given by the Secretary of State which must be given within twenty-four hours of the Secretary learning of the vacancy). State law requires that a majority of the committee be present at the meeting, that the meeting take place in the area to be represented, and that a majority vote of those present is required to nominate a candidate. No proxies are allowed. That means notice would go out on Wednesday, and the nomination meeting would have to take place by the Wednesday after Labor Day. How many of the 68 members of the Republican state committee are going to be out of state through Labor Day in Tampa? It would be rather embarassing to fail to get a quorum together and be unable to nomiate a replacement candidate.
Second, assuming that Representative Akin survives the next 24 hours, the next key date will be this weekend. If he can survive the daily media calls for him to step down, the start of the conventions should distract the media attention away from him and allow him to attempt to rebuild his candidacy after Labor Day.
Third, assuming that the post-Labor Day polls show that Akin is dead neanderthal walking, the last key date is September 25th -- the last day to withdraw with court approval. While theoretically, a court could refuse permission, it is unlikely that a court would. I would not be surprised if the state party had Akin announce that he will be withdrawing, but postpone the formal paperwork until after Labor Day to give the committee a chance to informally agree on a candidate and get that candidate's campaign committee set up.