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Akin is hiring son to run his campaign for the U.S. Senate

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 3, 2012 - U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, says his son -- former Marine Perry Akin -- is taking a leave from his corporate job to take over his father's campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Akin said in an interview that his son's role as the new campaign manager had been planned "for some time'' as part of the congressman's move to shape a campaign that is "principle-driven."

"The vision and the message has to be there," Akin said.

Akin said his son should be in place as campaign manager by Feb. 1.

The congressman confirmed a report earlier today in the nonpartisanHotline On Call, a national online publication, that former campaign manager Karl Hansen, consultant Chris LaCivita and finance director Heather Grote had all recently left Akin's campaign within the past few weeks.

Akin said Hansen's departure was as of late December. The others left a couple weeks earlier.

Hansen, reached on his cell phone, said that he left before Christmas. He declined further comment.

Akin said he has strong trust in his son, who was involved in his first campaign for Congress in 2000. Since then, Perry Akin graduated from the Naval Academy, served in the Marines in Iraq, and then attended the University of Chicago to receive his masters in business administration.

Akin said his son has a good job with John Deere, a corporation based in Moline, Iowa.  The congressman said his son is taking a leave to run his campaign.

"Perry is somebody in whom we have implicit trust,'' Akin said.

Akin said he plans to hire various regional fundraisers around the country to raise money for his campaign, rather than have an overall finance director. He said it will be up to his son to decide what campaign roles still need to be filled.

Akin is seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. Akin is facing at least two Republican challengers: former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and St. Louis area businessman John Brunner.

Steelman's son, Sam Steelman, also has been a major player in his mother's campaign so far.

Akin's last campaign report, filed in October, showed him with more money than Steelman, but trailing McCaskill's warchest. Brunner's first financial report is due at the end of January.

Akin said his campaign message will center on his independence, and his push for national fiscal responsibility. He is cited his opposition to former President George W. Bush's education initiative, No Child Left Behind, and to his vote against adding the drug-coverage benefit to the nation's Medicare program. He also voted against the federal financial bailout known as TARP.

Akin's chief point: "I have been faithful to the principles I believe in."

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.