Will Cleaver's car wash woes kill his re-election?
The Kansas City Star
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver is a polarizing politician for his many critics, partly because he’s so darn liberal, partly because he’s a black man representing a majority white district and partly because he can be so outspoken.
So when Cleaver gets in trouble, you can expect to hear his critics going for the jugular, hoping against hope he isn’t re-elected.
In 2012, these opponents think they have the perfect message to get rid of Cleaver: He’s being sued by a bank seeking repayment of a large loan used to buy a Grandview car wash owned by Cleaver Co. LLC.
Conservative opponents are especially worked up by the fact that the federal Small Business Administration has guaranteed about 75 percent of the loan, or close to $1 million.
The next deadline scheduled to come in this case is a response by Oct. 1 by Cleaver’s lawyers.
Any discussion of this political matter comes with two big “howevers.”
The first is quite simple:
However, Cleaver may not have done anything legally wrong with the loan. He may have to pay a fine or pay some money back, as SBA loans often require. In the end, there’s the possibility that Cleaver will be treated like everyone else who has an SBA loan that goes bad.
It won’t be a mark of distinction, for sure. But it also might not be the big legal problem that his critics claim it is at this point.
The second “however” in this matter:
Cleaver has been elected and re-elected in a district that still leans in favor of the Democratic Party. In fact, the new lines drawn for his district are supposedly as friendly if not more friendly to Democrats.
Plus, Cleaver is facing Republican Jacob Turk, a candidate Cleaver has beaten handily in the past, albeit with slightly lower margins each time. Even in the GOP-dominated year of 2010, Turk didn’t come close to unseating Cleaver.
The answer to the question posed in the headline will depend on a number of factors. The most essential one coming up: Will the car wash court case be resolved before the 2012 election is held?
My bet is no, because the wheels of justice work very slowly.
That non-decision would help Cleaver while frustrating his many detractors.
An earlier Star story on Cleaver’s car wash case is here.