Akin “may be dug in, but he’s not going to have a shovel to continuing digging, because he’s not going to have any money,” Matalin told ABC. “We’re going to win Missouri. Ann Wagner is going to end up being our candidate. The party is going to get Ann Wagner in.”
Wagner aides hotly dispute that their candidate is involved in any negotiations about switching races. But sources close to Akin acknowledge that he is monitoring developments in the race, including campaign donations and his standing in the polls, and that it isn’t out of the question he will change his mind.
Should Akin decide that his sliding poll numbers — he now trails McCaskill by ten points and many of his own supporters want him to exit the race — dictate dropping out, he will certainly want a say in who replaces him. John Brunner, a wealthy businessman, and Sarah Steelman, a former state treasurer, both challenged him in the GOP primary and are viewed as unacceptable by Akin forces. On the other hand, Wagner is respected in the Akin camp and a sufficiently conservative presence to satisfy Tea Party members who are suspicious of anyone the Missouri GOP establishment might anoint.