In Missouri, Brunner Attacks McCaskill in First Ad

In Missouri, Brunner Attacks McCaskill in First Ad

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - October 4, 2011

Missouri Republican John Brunner announced his Senate bid yesterday and has already taken to the airwaves with a spot highlighting his private sector credentials and pinning President Obama and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill to runaway spending, debt and regulations.

The ad, which is airing statewide, also comes as the president embarks on a fundraising trip to Missouri, a traditional bellwether state he lost by a few thousand votes to Sen. John McCain in 2008. Brunner joined the Republican fray Monday, aiming to take on first-term incumbent McCaskill, who is seen as vulnerable by Republicans and, as a result, has been the brunt of National Republican Senatorial Committee attacks. McCaskill was one of the earliest supporters of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential bid, but now it seems her strategy is to maintain a safe distance from him. She will not be present at an Obama event in her state Tuesday.

A mid-September Public Policy Polling (D) survey found the incumbent in a dead heat with Republican candidates Sarah Steelman, the former state treasurer, and Rep. Todd Akin, and her approval rating four points under water. That same poll showed McCaskill up 46 percent to 37 percent on Brunner, but roughly three-quarters of the respondents didn’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

A separate PPP poll released in late September found Brunner at the bottom of a hypothetical GOP primary ballot, attracting just 6 percent support. Steelman led the field with 40 percent, and Akin garnered 29 percent. Though all three Republican candidates will need to introduce themselves to Republican voters statewide, Brunner appears to have the most work to do. Eighty-two percent of Republicans surveyed didn't have an opinion about him.

Brunner is looking to tackle that name recognition weakness immediately, using the television spot to promote his biography as a family business leader, jobs creator and a conservative Republican. Brunner is a political novice whose family owns the company Vi-Jon, which manufactures, among other products, the hand sanitizer Germ-X.

The Senate candidate narrates the ad, introducing himself and his family’s 100-year-old company. “But you know America is losing its manufacturing base. And Washington is making it worse with uncontrolled spending, massive debt and regulations that cost jobs,” he says as the ad displays a picture of Obama and McCaskill together. “I’m running for Senate to change that. I see America with a balanced budget, less red tape and more jobs.”

The Missouri Democratic Party has already registered a complaint against Brunner, charging that he broke the Federal Election Commission's rules by spending an excessive amount of money on his campaign before filing his candidacy. They also accused him of announcing on Monday -- just after the Federal Election Commission’s third-quarter fundraising deadline -- to put off disclosing campaign expenditures until January.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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