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Battle Comes To An End In US Senate Race

Suburban Missouri has been a battleground in the U.S. Senate race. KCUR’s Frank Morris was in Chesterfield, outside St. Louis, with the Akin campaign, before he conceded to Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

Update 10:04 p.m. KCUR will broadcast McCaskill's acceptance speech at 10:19 p.m.


Update 9:47 p.m. NPR and the AP project that Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri has won re-election. NPR reports:

"Her Republican challenger, Rep. Todd Akin, drew national attention for saying that "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Akin's "legitimate rape" comments followed him throughout his campaign, Up To Date host Steve Kraske reported.

Update 9:28 p.m. NBC, CBS and CNN have projected a McCaskill win in this Senate race. NPR and the AP have not yet made that call. The Akin camp has not conceded. KCUR's Brian Ellison tweeted:

Update 6:30 pm. Akin's infamous comment may actually have helped with voters, Press Secretary Ryan Heit told KCUR's Frank Morris. Heit says voters witnessed him standing up to the party establishment when they demanded Akin leave the race. Akin apologized, and, Heit says, he moved on to run a very independent, grassroots campaign.  

“That really did become a part of the narrative. That was part of what really enthused a lot of Missouri voters was to see kind of an opening up of the doors. And they started to see the political games that happen in the background, so-and-so says you need to step down. The party moves against its own," says Heit. "And I think a lot of people, just the regular voters, down at the average everyday level, said, ‘Hold on, we run these elections, we vote for people, you don’t decide.’

Rep. Todd Akin and his supporters will be watching the results of the U.S. Senate race in Chesterfield, Missouri, an affluent suburb of St. Louis, Mo.

Rep. Akin was the underdog in the primary. He won with help from help from incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. He was strongly favored to beat McCaskill right after winning the nomination.

But then he said that in cases of "legitimate rape," a woman's body has a way of shutting down pregnancy. That cost him national party support. The big conservative PACs pulled millions of dollars out of Missouri. And Mitt Romney told him to step down. Akin was soon down 10 points to McCaskill.

"So, to see that move against him I think actually gained a lot of support behind Mr. Akin, simply for that reason. They saw the political games happen and someone finding stood up and said, ‘No, we held an election. You can’t just come in and change it.’"

Since then, Akin has closed the gap, running slightly behind McCaskill in recent polls. We'll soon find out if he's closed it enough to win.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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