High-ranking Missouri GOP officials were not surprised when former Sen. Jim Talent begged off on the opportunity for a rematch with Claire McCaskill, who ended his Senate career six years ago.
Talent has bigger and better things on his mind since he appears likely to hold a key position in the administration if Mitt Romney is elected president.
The Republicans are faced with the delicate task of selecting a replacement candidate for Todd Akin, who appears bound and determined to remain on the ballot.
If the pressure being applied on Akin to drop out of the race is successful, a candidate has to be ready to go and that is where the jockeying has started in the past few days.
From all appearances, it looks likely that if Akin leaves the race, Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson will take his place.
Considering the position Akin's "legitimate" rape comments have put the party in, combined with the damaged Peter Kinder, whose dalliance with strippers is bound to come up again in the next several weeks, GOP officials think a respected female candidate is their best bet to regain a Senate seat that once seemed inevitable.
Emerson is not the only one whose credentials are being examined.
Published reporters indicate that St. Louis businessman John Brunner, who finished second to Akin in the primary has been talking about, but it appears that most of the talk is coming from Brunner. GOP officials are not thrilled by the prospect of having a candidate who could not win a primary against weak opposition while spending $8 million of his own money.
There is absolutely no consideration being given to the third candidate, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman. Party officials want someone who will play ball and Mrs. Steelman is considered to be a maverick.
As always, State Auditor Tom Schweich's name is brought up, but there are someone with GOP circles who think Schweich is not ready for prime time and may never be.
Ann Wagner, who decided to forego a run at the Senate, instead seeking a Congressional seat, has an interest in the Senate, but many felt she had her chance to enter the race and blew it.
Meanwhile, Akin is still on the ballot and stands a reasonable chance of winning. On the other hand, and this is the scenario the Republicans fear the most, the presence of Akin and Kinder on the ballot, plus the statewide popularity that Gov. Jay Nixon has enjoyed, could leave the Republican Party with only Mitt Romney in the state winners circle in November.
Even with a new candidate, the Republicans are wary of Claire McCaskill. She almost beat Matt Blunt, she took down Talent, and polls do have a tendency to change.