Former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin backed Steelman, a former state Treasurer. Akin is backed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Brunner focused his campaign on his business experience and that he would not be a Washington insider.
In his victory speech, Akin talked about improving the economy. He also thanked Huckabee "who was with us from the start."
He said the choice is clear in November.
"This campaign is about reclaiming our God-given values, rebuilding the American dream and restoring the America we love," he said. "The choice is clear in November. The big-spending, budget-busting, job-killing liberal or the less spending, balanced budget, job-creating conservative. Claire McCaskill voted for big government, big spending and less liberty. I will vote for less government, less spending and more liberty."
Steelman issued a gracious concession to Akin during KCTV5 News at 10 p.m. She said she is putting her faith in him.
"It is very important for us to beat Claire McCaskill," Steelman said. "And I am going to do whatever I can to help him do that."
She said Akin is a good man and a conservative who she has faith in.
Brunner called Akin to concede about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. He did not concede publicly.
The campaign blamed attack ads about Brunner's business record for Brunner's fade.
"The high amount of negative campaigning the past couple of weeks was unexpected," campaign manager Jon Seaton said.
Seaton said Brunner throws his full support behind Akin, and he said Brunner is confident that Akin will defeat McCaskill in November.
Akin began to surge in the race's closing days as polls showed him with more opportunity to gain among voters who had not made up their minds.
All three Republicans cast themselves as the best conservative alternative to McCaskill, who is seeking re-election for the first time since winning her seat in 2006.
The GOP hopefuls have lambasted McCaskill for what they said are her close ties to President Barack Obama and, in particular, her vote for Obama's signature healthcare law. The race took on a different dynamic in recent days as Palin and Huckabee - two of the GOP's most prominent faces - lent their backing to candidates.
Palin, in particular, has been dogged in her support of Steelman. Palin has appeared in television and radio ads and campaigned with Steelman at a series of events in the state. Steelman, 54, has said she hopes to capitalize on the momentum of Ted Cruz, the Republican nominee for the Senate in Texas. He rode strong tea party support - and a timely boost from Palin - to an upset victory in that state's Senate primary last week.
Akin, 65, has also billed himself as a tea party supporter and has a strong conservative voting record in Congress. But both Steelman and Brunner have sought to use that experience against him, portraying themselves as outsiders.
The 60-year-old Brunner is a former CEO and chairman of Vi-Jon Inc., a healthcare products manufacturer. He has spent more than $7.5 million of his own money to campaign for the seat. He stops short of calling himself a tea party candidate, but he has the backing of FreedomWorks, a national tea party group that also endorsed Cruz in Texas.
Polls indicate that any of the three would stand a good chance of defeating McCaskill. She has taken the unusual step of airing television ads targeting all three, a tactic that reflects the uncertain nature of the GOP primary.
The Kansas primary was defined by a fight between the state GOP's conservative wing and its more moderate elements. Conservatives were hoping to use the primary to take decisive control of the state Senate, where moderate Republicans have slowed efforts to cut taxes, shrink government and pass more conservative social policies. A dozen moderate incumbent Republicans faced challenges from the right, including the Senate president.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Thursday, May 23 2013 7:30 PM EDT2013-05-23 23:30:51 GMT
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Friday, May 24 2013 2:31 AM EDT2013-05-24 06:31:07 GMT
Jodi Arias (Source: CBS 5 News)
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