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By Art Holliday

St. Louis (KSDK) - In next Tuesday's primary election, three Republicans, Todd Akin, Sarah Steelman, and John Brunner are vying for a chance to run against incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill.

NewsChannel 5's Art Holliday spoke to KSDK Political Analyst Dave Robertson about what to expect Tuesday and beyond.

Missouri's Senate race is getting national attention in part, because of high profile endorsements.

John Brunner has no political experience. Until 2009, Brunner was the third generation of his family to run a successful personal care products company. He's campaigning as a fresh face in Washington with new ideas to help create jobs. Much of Brunner's senate campaign is self financed, and Robertson says should Brunner win the primary, a McCaskill Brunner senate race would be fascinating.

"Brunner will have a tremendous amount of money to campaign against Claire McCaskill. Again, he's going to have to have a no surprise, no mistake campaign because the McCaskill campaign, the day after the primary is over, is going to start to campaign against Brunner if he's the winner, and all the charges that have come up against Brunner, they're going to come up over and over again. She has experience as a campaigner. She's tough, she's resilient, she's a good debater. Brunner is going to have to step up and hold his own in that campaign," said Robertson.

Robertson says Brunner doesn't have any fingerprints on national legislation at this point, and some primary voters will consider that a plus when deciding who to vote for. Robertson also says he thinks Brunner will feel safe to suburban Republicans in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Sarah Steelman is a former state senator and former Missouri state treasurer from 2004 to 2008. Robertson says if Steelman wins the primary and runs against Senator Claire McCaskill, it would be a campaign of conservative, rural Missouri vs. urban Missouri.

Friday in Kansas City Sarah Steelman is hosting former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin at a barbeque and Palin is doing political ads for Steelman.

"It could be a big plus in this campaign for the primary for the senate, because Palin will attract the large core of ideological voters who Akin is hoping to get. So Steelman is trying to attract some of those ideological conservatives, mold them together, and do well among that group and in rural and small city areas in order to build a plurality in this primary," said Robertson.

Since 2000, Congressman Todd Akin has represented the the second district, which includes West St. Louis County and St. Charles.

Robertson says Akin will have to do well in his district to win Tuesday's primary. Robertson also talked about how Akin's record on earmarks has become an issue in the senate campaign, directing federal dollars for pet projects near the lawmaker's personal property. Robertson expects earmarks to remain an issue if Akin faces McCaskill in the general election.

"That will play a huge role in a race of McCaskill vs. Akin because the charges about earmarks against Akin are going to stick. He has defended his earmarks. She has campaigned against earmarks and has been a voice against earmarks in the senate. That will be one of the central issues," said Robertson.

Robertson expects a close senate race in Tuesday's republican primary.

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