National Republicans worried anxiously this year that a handful of fringe candidates could repeat the dreadful mistakes of Todd Akin, whose "legitimate rape" comments helped tank the GOP's Senate chances in 2012.
But it turns out that the Todd Akin of 2014 is Todd Akin.
Akin's reemergence on the national stage this week — to promote his new book, Firing Back — was an unwelcome surprise for national Republicans, who still credit the former Missouri candidate's comments with losing not just his race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill but tight Senate contests across the 2012 map.
So far, though, his 2014 doppelganger hasn't materialized — and almost all the Republicans whom party leaders saw as problematic are out of the picture now.
Paul Broun, for example, the firebrand conservative congressman who ran for the Senate in Georgia and once called the big-bang theory and evolution "lies from the pit of hell," came in fifth in the state's May 20 primary. Businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston, who made it to the July 22 runoff, were the two candidates in that race seen as least likely to deliver a similar gaffe.
The same was true in Senate races in North Carolina and Mississippi: Physician Greg Brannon and pastor Mark Harris both lost the North Carolina GOP primary to state House Speaker Thom Tillis, delivering the nomination to the candidate national Republicans preferred. McDaniel, whose radio-host past unearthed some offensive comments about women and minorities, is — pending his legal challenge — out of the running in Mississippi.