A feature article Sunday in Politico reveals primary elections for Congress in 18 months may have fewer divisive candidates in the GOP ranks. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, specifically mentioned the Missouri Senate race in which Democrats chose to get involved in the GOP primary by airing advertisements touting one opposition candidate over another.
The Republican leadership faces the challenge of preventing more losses due to divisive candidates such as Rep. Todd Akin, despite one prominent conservative that still backs the representative.
* The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent $800,000 to call Akin "too conservative" and another super PAC called John Brunner deceptive with more than $1 million in ads. Sarah Steelman, the front-running candidate, was endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
* Despite being the weakest of three candidates, Akin won the primary in August. Sen. Claire McCaskill ran unopposed in the primary to defend her seat.
* Portman stated the GOP needed to "respond to the Democrat attempts ... to choose a candidate they wanted." When Akin made comments about "legitimate rape" after the primary, the national party abandoned him for the general election.
* Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., told Politico his own party should talk to voters in each state about what candidates they like based upon "desires [and] electability." Candidates put in congressional primaries shouldn't be about national politics.
* Moran is the incoming chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Portman is the vice chairman for finance. Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is the vice chairman for grassroots outreach. Cruz is a tea party favorite and a telling choice for the position as the GOP looks to these three men to help win federal elections in 2014.
* The Politico piece states the plan is to try to unify tea party conservatives behind a more likable candidate. Cruz will be the key to that aspect of the 2014 midterm elections. That unity starts at primary elections to try to prevent another misstep that cost Republicans two winnable Senate seats this year.
* Even as the national GOP tries to expunge candidates such as Akin, one prominent figure in the party has no regrets in showing his support. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, was in Kansas City on Friday for an event promoting his book "Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett."
* The Washington Post caught up with Huckabee in Missouri. He told the media outlet, "I regret the Republican Party's complete abandonment of Todd Akin." The conservative talk show host likened Akin's race to a battlefield where Republicans "pumped more bullets into him, then they took what little water and food was left and took it away from him."
* The Politico article asserts the GOP has a fine line to toe in two years. On the one hand, tea party conservatives such as Akin and Huckabee won't go away. On the other, they need to find electable candidates before Republicans lose more seats.
William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.