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McCaskill, Akin cast ballots - amid Akin's anti-Libertarian ad and allied robocalls

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 6, 2012 - U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., missed the election-morning rush Tuesday as she and her family showed up around 8 a.m. to cast their ballots at the Kirkwood Community Center.

About 90 minutes earlier, Republican rival Todd Akin cast his ballot at the Start Bridge Christian Center in Wildwood.

Akin didn’t say much, telling reporters only that he thought it would be close. A spokesman said the congressman "was encouraged by what he was seeing on the ground."

McCaskill exuded confidence, and credited her army of “hundreds and hundreds” of supporters and volunteers all over the state. “We pulled it off. We had crews hanging doors up until 2:30 in the morning. They were out there again at 4 a.m this morning,” McCaskill said. “I feel really good. Enthusiasm is very high.”

Meanwhile, several political activists and average voters reported to the Beacon that they had received a robocall late Monday that criticized Libertarian candidate Jonathan Dine, who has been garnering at least 8 percent in several recent polls – and who Republicans fear may be siphoning votes from disaffected moderate Republicans who won’t vote for Akin because of his comments about "legitimate rape."

Akin's spokesman Ryan Hite said he believed the robocalls were made by RandPAC, the political action committee affiliated with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., an Akin ally.

(UPDATE) However, Tuesday afternoon, the Akin campaign was running its own anti-Dine radio on KMOX, and presumably other stations. The ad features Rand Paul attacking Dine. (End of update)

It took less than a half-hour for McCaskill, her husband – Joseph Shepard – and her children to cast their ballots. Akin's campaign said it took the congressman and his wife about 45 minutes because of the wait at their polling place.

When asked about President Barack Obama, who is unlikely to carry Missouri, McCaskill reaffirmed her support of his candidacy but emphasized that his election wasn’t her prime focus today.

“I am really focused on making sure Missourians look at the differences between me and Todd Akin and make up their mind on who they want speaking for them in the United State Senate,” she continued, before highlighting the comments from various top Republicans in August who had called on Akin to withdraw over his “legitimate rape” remark.

McCaskill said her campaign was working with lawyers groups who were monitoring the polls for irregularities or voter suppression. "I want to make sure that people aren’t standing in line more than an hour and a half or so," she said.

“This is always a great day, Election Day," she said., tapping into her background as a lawyer and a prosecutor. "The jury is deliberating. You’ve done all you can do. This is when you try to take a deep breath and get rid of the nervous energy you’re going to have until the results start pouring in.”

McCaskill said she also was having to deal with the loss of her mother, who died just over a week ago. "I’ve never had to deal with overwhelming grief at the same time I’ve been focused on a really big election," she said. "What’s made it hard for me is my mom not being here today.... She’s whispering in my ear, ‘Go get ‘em, go get ‘em, go get ‘em.' ”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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