Local Experts Weigh In On Elections

by

Kristi Smith Wyatt, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Policy Development

A packed Chamber board room, a tasty lunch and two of KC’s smartest political thinkers made for a special treat on Monday, at least for all of us political junkies.  

From left: Steve Kraske, Fred Logan, Public Policy Council Chair Barbara Koirtyohann

Thanks to Steve Kraske, long-time political columnist and reporter for the KC Star and host of the popular midday Up-To-Date program on KCUR along and Fred Logan, columnist for the KC Business Journal and commentator on KCTV, a lawyer with Logan and Logan for a riveting post-mortem on the August primary election as well as predictions and observations regarding the upcoming general election and the KCMO city elections next spring. 

Some take-aways from a great session…

  • Missouri is “closely divided” between R’s and D’s, thus every cycle has drama, suspense and surprises. Outcome is determined by the kind of cycle the nation is in, i.e. tilting to conservative or liberal. 
  • Doesn’t look good for Kansas Democrats in the November elections. Example is Kris Kobach who appears out front in the Kansas Secretary of State race… riding the immigration issue all the way, as are others nationally. (But give credit to the Kansas Democrat party for resilience.  D’s held the Governor’s office 28 of the last 44 years.)
  • The so-called tea party is an enigma – loosely organized, independent, they “pop up” in various races and occasionally as in Scott Brown’s recent election in Massachusetts, “work like dogs” getting the vote out.  Influence in Missouri and Kansas, the rest of the nation not as obvious.  This morning University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato predicts 90% of incumbents in Congress will be re-elected.       
  • Incumbent Congressman Ike Skelton has a tough race, but most think he’ll pull it off.  Running against former state representative Vicki Hartzler from a well-known family who has the youth and stamina to run a strong race. But will it be enough to defeat Ike, first elected in 1976, and arguably the most knowledgeable person in the House of Representatives on military matters?  And Whiteman Air Force Base is a really big deal in the 4th Congressional District.
  •  The rancor in Congress is regrettable and harmful, a similar sentiment to that expressed by Congressman Cleaver this morning at a Chamber breakfast.  The fighting in Congress is destructive and needs to be tamped down. One side will do anything to keep the majority. Cleaver said he is saddened by this fact of life in Congress more than any other issue … the rancor is doing immense damage to our country.  He also said many newly-elected members of Congress come in with the belief that “I am right and you are evil.”   
  • Following a big win in the primary, the race for Johnson County chair is advantage-Eilert at this point, but don’t write off Surbaugh. General election dynamics are different from primary – more conservatives vote in primary and fewer D’s and independents.
  • Looking futher ahead, the Earnings tax battle will be intense, as will the contest for Mayor. 

Stay tuned.

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