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Unusual Clash Of Interests Seeking Voter Support In Missouri

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ST. LOUIS, MO. (KPLR) - Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Sarah Steelman challenged the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsement of her opponent John Brunner Thursday as "supporting the status quo."

Steelman, former Missouri Treasurer, Congressman Todd Akin of St. Louis County and St. Louis businessman Brunner are the frontrunners in the GOP race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.  Missouri's primary election is Tuesday, August 7.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee has been running television commercials in Missouri critical of Steelman and incumbent Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill.  The ads charge both have been supported by trial lawyers and "union bosses" and have cast votes against Missouri businesses.

In a FOX2 interview Thursday with Betsey Bruce, Steelman said, "They want to protect big spending and earmarks and the way things have been done before because they get a lot of benefits from that."  She went on to say, "I don't agree with that.  I am the candidate the status quo fears the most because I'm gonna do what I say I`m gonna do."

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Political Director Rob Engstrom appeared at a news conference with Brunner at Vi-Jon, a company Brunner ran for decades and recently sold.  "We're trying to change the United States Senate and we believe having someone like Mr. Brunner who comes from the free enterprise system will allow American’s economic engine to grow again," explained Engstrom.

The Chamber endorsed Brunner earlier this summer.  After the news conference Engstrom explained the commercials created by the groups political action committee.

"It's an effort to move public opinion in a significant way; we think it has and we think Senator McCaskill and Ms. Steelman are two peas in a pod in terms of both of those folks have been supported by trial lawyers and by labor bosses."

Steelman said she would not be influenced by anyone who contributes to her campaign.      

Engstrom complained, "Trial lawyers consistently vote against the business community and attack the business community."

Steelman's campaign is currently running a commercial featuring an endorsement from former vice presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin.  Palin calls Steelman "a true conservative" who "defends our tax dollars like a Momma grizzly defends her cubs."

Congressman Todd Akin is running commercials featuring former Arkansas Governor and prominent conservative commentator Mike Huckabee.  In the commercial, Huckabee praises Akin for voting against government bailouts, wasteful stimulus spending and Obamacare.

"Todd Akin co-sponsored the balanced budget amendment and was named a tax payer hero for opposing wasteful spending," Huckabee said.

For links to the candidate web sites including the five others seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate go to the FOX2 Now.com home page and click on "Voters Guide."

Betsey.Bruce@tvstl.com
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