JEFFERSON CITY — U.S. Rep. Todd Akin is turning the reins of his Missouri Senate campaign over to one of his sons while shedding several of his top hired political aides in what is shaping up as a competitive three-way Republican primary to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Perry Akin, a former Marine captain, is taking over as campaign manager for his father effective immediately but won't be on the job-full time until the first week in February, Akin spokesman Ryan Hite said Wednesday. He replaces campaign manager Karl Hansen, whom Hite said was not fired but reached a mutual agreement with Akin to leave the campaign.
Referring to his son, Akin said in a written statement released late Tuesday night: "He and I share our vision for America, and he understands the needs for a principle-driven grass-roots campaign."
Hansen did not return a telephone call Wednesday from The Associated Press seeking comment about his departure.
Earlier in December, Akin's general campaign consultant Chris LaCivita and fundraising director Heather Grote also left the campaign. Hite, who is Akin's scheduling director, said their departure was unrelated to Hansen's exit from the campaign. He said the exodus of aides was no indication that Akin's campaign was in trouble or turmoil.
"The whole point of a campaign is that you have a singular vision and message that you want to implement. You just have to find the right people that are on board, where the chemistry flows," Hite said. "It's the natural progression of getting that principle-driven campaign online as we come into the 2012 campaign year."
Akin, who has represented a suburban St. Louis congressional district for the past decade, declared his candidacy for U.S. Senate in May while casting himself as a consistent conservative. Already in the race was former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman of Rolla. Last fall, St. Louis area businessman John Brunner also joined the Republican Senate race and immediately began pouring some of his own fortune into advertisements linking McCaskill to President Barack Obama.
Akin reported having more than $1.2 million in his campaign account as of the end of September — about double that of Steelman. Because of the timing of his candidacy announcement, Brunner did not have to file a fall financial report. So far, none of the three candidates has distinguished himself or herself as the clear frontrunner in the Republican primary.
Akin said his son, Perry, served with the Marines in Iraq, has a master's degree in business from the University of Chicago and has worked since June 2010 at John Deere's Treasury Funding Group while living in Moline, Ill. He said Perry Akin will be on leave from John Deere while serving as campaign manager.