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Columbia Missourian

VOTERS GUIDE 2012: Candidates for U.S. Senate

By Jordan Shapiro, Matthew Patane
September 17, 2012 | 9:00 a.m. CDT
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, shown at left in an Aug. 24 file photo, is running against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, shown in a Sept. 7 file photo. Libertarian Jonathan Dine is also running for the seat.

Editor's note: This story originally publishedin advance of the August primary. It has been updated to include information about the candidates who will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. This article is part of the Missourian's 2012 general election voters guide.

WHAT'S THE JOB? The U.S. Senate comprises 100 members, two from each state, who serve six-year terms. Democrats currently hold the majority with 51 members, plus two Independents who caucus with them.

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The Senate is responsible for passing legislation and has the exclusive authority to ratify treaties and give advice and consent to nominees for federal offices made by the president. The Senate also tries all impeachments.

Senators must be at least 30 and have at least nine years of U.S. citizenship. They must also be a resident of the state they represent.  The current salary for a senator is $174,000.

Claire McCaskill (D) 

McCaskill is the incumbent senator seeking election to a second term. Before serving in the Senate, she was state auditor from 1999 to 2007. In 2004, McCaskill defeated fellow Democrat and incumbent Gov. Bob Holden in the gubernatorial primary. She went on to narrowly lose the general election to then-Secretary of State Matt Blunt. 

McCaskill was born in Rolla before moving to Columbia and graduating from Hickman High School. She now lives in St. Louis. 

In the Senate, McCaskill serves on the Armed Services, Homeland Security, Commerce and Aging committees. 

If re-elected, McCaskill said, she would work to protect tax cuts for working families and small businesses. She also would oppose attempts to privatize Social Security and Medicare. 

"We’re still recovering from the devastation caused by Wall Street’s recklessness, and I simply can’t agree with my opponents who, in their rush to the far right, would hand over our seniors’ security to Wall Street," she said. 

Todd Akin (R) 

Todd Akin was elected to Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District in 2000. He serves on the U.S. House Armed Services, Science and Technology, and Budget committees. He is chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces.

While in the U.S. House, Akin has voted several times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, supported a balanced budget amendment and advocated for less regulation from the federal government. He has also proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit federal spending to 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. If elected to the U.S. Senate, Akin would continue to support these policies, according to his website. 

"I am running for the U.S. Senate because our freedoms are under attack," he said. 

Akin has criticized the Senate for not passing a budget plan in more than three years. He said the growth of the federal government and the economic crisis is destroying businesses. 

"I have fought this expansion in Congress but have watched as the Senate ignores the Constitution and refuses to address this pending crisis," he said

Before running for Congress, Akin was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1988, where he represented the St. Louis area and gained a reputation for being one of the most conservative lawmakers in the legislature. He was born in New York but raised in St. Louis.

Jonathan Dine (Libertarian) 

Calls for additional information to the Libertarian Party and emails to Jonathan Dine were not returned. Dine has not filed campaign finance reports with the Federal Elections Commission. Dine is a native of California and now lives in Riverside. 

Dine ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010. His stated priorities then were to get the economy back on track by returning to the gold standard. He also supported legalization of marijuana and term limits for members of Congress.

Personal: Age 32. Single. He has a daughter.

Education: High school degree

Occupation: Personal trainer in Kansas City

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.