KC region will lack clout after 2012 elections
The Kansas City Star
In less than a month Kansas City area voters will go to the polls to determine who will fill many important governmental positions.
Unfortunately, too many of those winners aren’t going to be from this region.
Or, they aren’t going to have the firepower to get much done in Washington, Jefferson City or Topeka.
Area residents often will be on the outside looking in when crucial decisions are made about how to use tax revenues and set priorities for the nation, Missouri and Kansas.
Take a look at some of the spots open on the Nov. 6 ballot and notice where the candidates are from or what party they represent. That tells a lot about the influence this region will — or won’t — have.
- In Missouri’s U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill used to be from this area (once serving as a state House lawmaker, Jackson County legislator and as prosecutor), but now calls St. Louis home. Republican opponent Todd Akin is from the St. Louis area, too.
An added note: None of the three other U.S. senators in Kansas or Missouri are from our region.
- In the Missouri governor’s race, Democratic incumbent Jay Nixon and Republican opponent Dave Spence are from the St. Louis area.
Nixon — who’s been in Jefferson City as an elected official for decades — flies here often to tout development projects. But among many local elected officials, Nixon doesn’t have the reputation as a champion of Kansas City.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who is not up for re-election, also isn’t from this region.
- Three Missouri-side U.S. House contests in this area will be decided next month.
Democrat Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City is a heavy favorite in the 5th District against Republican Jacob Turk. Yet Cleaver will remain in the minority party in Washington if the GOP retains its iron grip on the U.S. House.
Sure, Republicans Vicky Hartzler of Harrisonville and Sam Graves of Tarkio also are expected to retain their seats. But Hartzler, in the 4th District, is an ultra-conservative who doesn’t represent the views of much of the Kansas City urban area. Graves, in the 6th District, hasn’t provided leadership on Kansas City regional issues in D.C.
The caveat here: Democrat Teresa Hensley of Raymore might upset Hartzler. As Cass County prosecutor, Hensley is more familiar with urban/suburban issues.
- In Missouri’s four other important statewide races, the Republican and Democratic candidates for state treasurer are not from this region.
But Susan Montee, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in Missouri, owns and often stays in a house in Kansas City. She is opposed by Peter Kinder of Jefferson City.
Attorney General Chris Koster, former Cass County prosecutor, is running to keep his seat against Republican Ed Martin of St. Louis. And Democrat Jason Kander of Kansas City is vying for the open secretary of state job against Republican Shane Schoeller of Bolivar.
In the Missouri General Assembly, the city of Kansas City will return its usual crop of Democrats to the Senate — where they will be heavily outgunned by Republicans from the rest of the state.
In Kansas, Republican Kevin Yoder is on track to easily win his campaign for the 3rd District U.S. House seat.
That’s heartening news for the large number of conservatives in Johnson County, his major base of power, but it doesn’t excite the crowd of more moderate voters there.
- The biggest fight in Johnson County this fall features the attempt by Democrats to keep enough state Senate seats that they have a fighting chance to help block destructive aspects of Brownback’s agenda.
However, as the GOP primaries showed in August — when conservatives won most contested elections — the tide does not favor moderate Republicans or Democrats this year. That’s great for the growing power of Johnson County’s conservatives in Topeka, but not encouraging for the future of the state.
Overall, after the 2012 elections, the Kansas City region will continue to lack the kind of political punch it ought to have with its 2 million people.
To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. He appears on “Ruckus” at 7 tonight on KCPT.