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Akin posts strong financial numbers, while Steelman leads in latest poll

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 1, 2012 - U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, is starting 2012 with far more in the bank than his two Republican rivals for the U.S. Senate: St. Louis businessman John Brunner -- who has put in $1 million of his own money -- and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman.

Akin's latest campaign report, filed this week, shows that the congressman has $1.158 million in the bank after raising $231,527 during the last quarter of 2011.

Those numbers compare to Steelman's $572,986 in the bank, after raising only $73,611 since Oct. 1. Steelman's bank account would look even smaller, if it wasn't for the $400,000 that her family had poured into the campaign.

Brunner, of course, reported earlier in the week that he had only $209,248 in the bank after spending $1.055 million during the last quarter of 2011 -- most of it on TV ads.

Akin and Brunner may need to raise and spend more than Steelman, who appears to have an edge in name recogition. She's the only one of the three who has run statewide before. (Steelman won her state treasurer's race in 2004 and then lost a bid for governor in 2008.)

An independent poll by Public Policy Pollingappears to bear that out, giving Steelman an early edge among the Missouri Republicans polled. But in its analysis, PPP noted that Brunner's support had tripled since it last polled in Missouri last September -- and the percentage backing Steelman and Akin has dropped.

Meanwhile, the woman that Republicans hope to oust, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is likely taking heart in the fact that she has more than twice as much in the bank -- $4.8 million -- than the combined tallies of her GOP rivals.

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.