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December 22, 2014

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The Lambe lies down in Missouri: How Harry Reid’s 2010 strategy worked for Claire McCaskill on Tuesday

In 2010, the story goes, Harry Reid picked his opponent, Sharron Angle, in the GOP primary, thus ensuring his victory.

That doesn’t quite tell the tale: Reid’s campaign may have been one of the more skillful in American political history to save a walking-dead incumbent. But Reid’s decision (along with his front group, the Patriot Majority) to sully frontrunner Sue Lowden, thus allowing The Rise of Angle (who had some tea party money help), changed the dynamic of the race. In the weeks after the primary, Team Reid defined the unprepared and erratic GOP nominee and….game over.

Welcome to Missouri 2012.

Rep. Todd Akins’s victory in Missouri follows the same model as Nevada two years ago and was also partly overseen by Rebecca Lambe, the mastermind of Reid’s 2010 strategy who cut her teeth in Missouri politics and knows the state well.

Lambe, now trying to maintain Reid’s Senate supremacy, helped put Missouri in play for the Democrats with a campaign to bloody former frontrunner and self-financer John Brunner. Ads aired in the primary defined Brunner, providing an opening for Akin, just as those “chickens for checkups” spots defined Lowden and allowed Angle to elevate herself to the nomination.

You can see a partial window to the strategy in this National Journal piece by Sean Sullivan.

Majority PAC, by running ads battering Brunner, did exactly what Patriot Majority did to Angle in 2010. Lambe is a senior adviser to Majority PAC and followed the blueprint that worked so well in 2010.

Akin may not be Angle. But his victory suddenly put Missouri in play on the Senate map. And, it must be mentioned, gave Reid & Co. another possible avenue to keeping his title should Nevada not turn over.

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