Can Turk beat Cleaver? Yeah
The Kansas City Star
Republican Jacob Turk didn’t beat Democrat Emanuel Cleaver in 2006 the first time they squared off for the U.S. House seat representing much of Kansas City and Jackson County.
And Turk failed again in 2008. And yet again in 2010.
So what makes Turk, who announced Monday that he’s running once more, think that the fourth time around will be a charm and he can knock off Cleaver in 2012?
For one thing, Turk got a lot closer to winning in the Republican-dominated 2010 national races, when Cleaver got 53 of the vote and Turk received 44 percent. That means Cleaver fell far off the 64 percent of the vote he rolled up in the 2006 and 2008 races against Turk.
For another, thanks to Missouri’s loss of a congressional seat and subsequent redistricting this year, Cleaver will be running in a district that looks different than the one he’s won before. Although it still is supposed to be dominated by Democratic voters, the new district also will be a challenge for the four-term congressman.
Finally, Cleaver has won so easily before that he could imperiously think victory is his for the taking in 2012 as well.
Turk obviously is hoping that the GOP once again will appeal to a lot of voters in 2012. He might get his wish if Republicans line up a strong candidate to challenge Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (although that doesn’t look likely) and someone to successfully rip into U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (more likely, but not yet assured).
Cleaver will have plenty going for him, including his well-known status as a former Kansas City mayor. Plus, while Turk fell just 17,000-plus votes shy of beating Cleaver in 2010, he was 88,000 behind in 2008, when voter turnout was much higher and - of course - Barack Obama won the presidency.
Cleaver will benefit if Obama runs well in his re-election campaign.
Then again, Turk could get closer and even win if Republicans mount a serious challenger to Obama, Missouri’s GOP gets behind him stronger than ever and Cleaver takes re-election for granted.