Advance strong candidates to general election
The Kansas City Star
Tuesday’s primaries present serious challenges to voters seeking to reverse the dysfunction and hyper-partisanship paralyzing common sense solutions in Washington.
What’s most important is for voters to take time to study the candidates’ positions and ignore the often distorted mailings and ads, especially those by special interest groups.
The Star’s Midwest Democracy site (midwestdemocracy .com) offers a good option to review candidates’ answers to questionnaires.
Our recommendations for contested area U.S. Senate and congressional races:
Missouri U.S. Senate Republican primary
Given all the hype from the right about incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill’s vulnerability as a Democrat, Missourians might have expected stronger Republican opponents. Instead the three major Republican contenders are engaged in cheap-shot denunciations of each other, with gratuitous slams at “ObamaClaire” peppering the conversation. Yet the intraparty smackdowns risk undoing the primary survivor’s viability.
Right now, the two better-known candidates who bring public records in office — former state treasurer Sarah Steelman of Rolla and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of St. Louis County — are less attractive than wealthy St. Louis businessman newcomer John Brunner.
In large part, we favor Brunner because he’s more of an enigma. What we know about Akin and Steelman simply doesn’t warrant support.
Steelman has careened far right, but what’s more troubling are her stumbling presentations when pressed in public forums and debates. It’s hard to imagine her successfully navigating a Senate debate, and that would leave Missouri on the short end of representation.
Akin, a six-term congressman, spends far too much time pushing his social beliefs and personal religious agenda. Typical of his outlook is a comment delivered in a televised debate when he likened government to stage three cancer of socialism. That talk demonstrates no tolerance for compromise or progress in the Senate.
Brunner made millions in his family manufacturing business of Vi-Jon, maker of the Germ-X hand sanitizer and other personal care products. He has the “citizen-senator” pitch, and he says Mitt Romney “is conservative enough for me.”
That makes him apparently slightly less far right than his main opponents. Should he emerge as the primary victor, he has a lot of work to do to clarify his positions on domestic and especially foreign issues. But in this case, fuzzy stances still look better than the record of others.
McCaskill is unopposed, well-financed and has a strong record to run on in November, particularly her push for greater accountability of government spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Other candidates on the Republican primary ballot are Jerry Beck, La Monte; Mark Memoly, Lee’s Summit; Mark Patrick Lodes, St. Louis; Robert Poole, Macon; and Hector Maldonado, Sullivan.
Missouri U.S. House 5th District
Incumbent Emanuel Cleaver II, former Kansas City mayor and councilman and a minister, faces no primary opposition in his bid for a fifth term. On the Republican side, Jacob Turk, a software programmer of Lee’s Summit, is making his fourth run at Cleaver, and still fails to find much traction except with Missouri Right to Life.
Former state Rep. Jerry Nolte of Gladstone brings more experience and a record to the race. He’s far to the right, but savvy in legislating, putting him at the head of the pack. He favors tax relief for business and the development of renewable energy resources. Also in the Republican primary race is Ron Paul Shawd of Lee’s Summit and Jason Greene of Raytown.
Missouri U.S. House 6th District
Incumbent Sam Graves of Tarkio, who has easily swept elections in the past, faces two Republican primary opponents this year in his bid for a seventh term: Bob Gough of Lee’s Summit, a cranky anti-tax advocate, and Christopher Ryan of Liberty. Graves has managed to stay out of the limelight of late on controversial anti-immigrant issues, a point in his favor, and thus gets the nod.
Four Democrats filed to attempt to oust Graves. Kyle Yarber of Gladstone, a former teacher now working on his second master’s degree, this one in American history, serves on the Gladstone Planning Commission. He deserves the nod. Yarber hopes to aid small business and agriculture to create jobs. Also attractive is Ted Rights of Hamilton, a rural doctor.
Others in the race include W.A.(Bill) Hedge of St. Joseph, a Baptist pastor, and Ronald William Harris of Kansas City, a former teacher.
Kansas U.S. House 2nd District
Incumbent Lynn Jenkins, a Republican, is seeking her third term on her increasingly conservative voting record. The Democratic primary field includes a farmer, a minister and lawyer.
The minister, Tobias Schlingensiepen of Topeka, offers the strongest shot at unseating the incumbent. He has a moderate pitch and a record of rallying a successful effort to save the Kansas Neurological Institute from Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget cutting. He’s senior minister of First Congregational Church in Topeka, now on leave to campaign.
Also talented is Lawrence lawyer Robert Eye, who has a strong environmental advocacy record. Scott Barnhart, an Ottawa family farmer, switched parties last year to join the Democrats for this race.