Missouri is well-known for its never-dull political demeanor, and this cycle is no different. I started working as a senior staffer in the spring of 2011 on State Treasurer Sarah Steelman's U.S. Senate race. Steelman is one of those public figures who really, for lack of a better term, "get shit done," and I respect that about her. She and I differed on a number of issues, but I knew that she would be an effective leader in D.C. like she had been in Missouri, so I put my differences aside and worked wholeheartedly for her as the Political Director of her campaign.
Many people asked, "How can you support someone who doesn't support you?" And I would always reply, "How could I not support someone like Sarah who is not a party-line establishment lackey?" Steelman was definitely, in my eyes, a moderate Republican with an agenda to really shake things up within the GOP, and if that doesn't excite my fellow anti-establishment Republicans, then I don't know what does.
After months of speculation on whether "successful" businessman John Brunner would be getting into the race or not, he finally took his finger out of the air and decided to hire the entire Missouri Republican consultant establishment to run his race. At that point, I knew this was going to be a (as we like to call it in Missouri) barn-burning horse race. With Steelman clearly being outspent by a large margin by Mr. Brunner, this race looked as if it were down to two people: Steelman and Brunner. At this point, their other opponent, Congressman Todd Akin, had already made some bizarre comments likening student loans to stage-3 cancer, homosexuality to incest and bestiality, and abortions to "baby-killing," among countless other ludicrous statements (now including his recent remark about "legitimate rape"). Most of us Missouri moderates had written Akin off, and for good reason.
What kind of person actually assigns so little value to a human being that they even come up with the term "legitimate rape"? That kind of person is Todd Akin, an inconsiderate, anti-freedom, anti-civil-rights, extremist, far-right 12-year congressman. This behavior clearly demonstrates that Congressman Akin has no respect for women, individuality, or freedom, and I'd add that he doesn't understand the facts that are associated with the issues we face in the LGBT community.
What most of us Missouri politicos didn't know was how much klout Governor Mike Huckabee, the homeschoolers, and right-wing evangelicals had within Missouri politics. Having the so-called "Right to Pray" amendment on the August ballot didn't help anyone but Akin, either.
After a grueling primary, Akin fairly ended up on the top, with a 6-point margin of victory -- and that's a pretty big margin in Missouri politics. Akin may have won, but Missourians clearly lost in that primary. Our LGBT community lost, senior citizens lost, independent voters lost, and the Republican Party clearly lost.
However, we do have a clear choice in November, between Senator Claire McCaskill and Congressman Todd Akin. We can vote to go back to medieval times, like many are apparently wanting to do, or we can progress as a state that ends extremism once and for all. As a gay Republican, I am proudly throwing my support behind Missouri's moderate U.S. senator Claire McCaskill for her reelection, for three main reasons. Firstly, Claire has proven to be on the side of Missouri's mainstream majority, whether it was fighting her own party on "cap and trade," fighting against wasteful earmark practices, or fighting for the Keystone Pipeline. Secondly, Claire has a clear and reasonable understanding of what it takes to fix Medicare and Social Security so that these programs will continue to be of value for current and future seniors. Lastly, Claire is never afraid to stick up for what she believes. She doesn't take "no" for an answer, and she questions authority. She has also been an avid fighter and defender for the LGBT community, and that was highlighted with her vote to end "don't ask, don't tell," which restricted hundreds of thousands of current and potential service members from serving our country.
I don't know about you, but I enjoy having a U.S. senator who fights for me.