With even Republicans asking whether it’s too late to replace Rep. Todd Akin as a candidate for U.S. Senate (following his jaw-dropping exposition on whether “legitimate” rape disproportionately affects pregnancy rates), I thought it might be useful to see whether this is even possible.
The answer (as usual), is that he can, but absent Rep. Akin quickly deciding on his own to withdraw, there’s probably not enough time for Missouri’s political machinery to urge him to drop out.
MIssouri’s §115.359 appears to require a candidate to withdraw “no later than the eleventh Tuesday prior to the general election” — which, if you’re counting, is this Tuesday. Absent some pretty effective lobbying by Missouri Republicans, there’s little chance Rep. Akin will willingly step down before that deadline. And any lobbying won’t have the benefit of poll numbers, as there’s little time to even conduct a poll before Tuesday. Not that it would matter much, as Rep. Akin’s comments won’t have saturated the electorate, meaning any polls wouldn’t measure much (if any) of the eventual impact of his remarks.
If Rep. Akin does withdraw before 5PM on Tuesday, the Republicans in Missouri could nominate someone else pursuant to §115.363(3)(3). In such an event, under §115.369, the party would have two weeks and a day to pick somebody new.
Of course, I’m not remotely an expert on Missouri election law, so there are some pretty high odds that I’m completely off-base in my analysis.
Edit to add: §115.359 does permit a candidate to withdraw after Tuesday’s deadline and have his or her name removed from the ballot, if the candidate agrees to pay the costs of printing new ballots, unless electoral officials object and show a good reason why the candidate’s name should not be removed.
Even if Rep. Akin withdrew, there’d be little point in paying to have his name removed from the ballot, as there does not appear to be a method to replace his position on the ballot with a new candidate. This section simply permits a candidate’s total withdrawal before the election.
Edit: I was wrong – §115.363 also permits the Republicans to nominate someone else in Akin’s stead if he withdraws before the second deadline (September 25), provided that Akin pay for the printing of new ballots and get a court’s permission to withdraw. In that scenario, the court is required to grant permission unless the electoral officials object with good cause — and given that the Secretary of State is a Democrat, there’s a chance to create some roadblocks against Akin’s withdrawal. But that opportunity only arises of Akin doesn’t withdraw before the first deadline — that is, Tuesday at 5PM, and sources close to Akin are suggesting that he’s taking steps to get out before that deadline.