Local Columnists

August 1, 2014

Steve Kraske: Decisions, derision and dollars

Primary elections usually mean low turnouts. But those skipping Tuesday’s primary elections will miss an opportunity to have a big say in some mighty important decisions.

Some things I think I think on the eve of the Kansas and Missouri primaries:

Who says primary elections don’t matter? Voters in our two states Tuesday have some meaty decisions to make. Here’s one: Will the new-look Kansas City continue to get new looks with an expanded streetcar system? Or is the two-mile starter line enough?

Missourians will decide whether a three-quarter-cent sales tax is the way to finance roads instead of tolls or a higher gas tax. And they’ll pass judgment on a “freedom to farm” constitutional amendment that critics contend is freedom for big corporations to run amok.

Kansas Republicans will pick a U.S. Senate nominee. If that nominee is tea partier Milton Wolf, Kansas Democrats will argue that they have their best shot since 1932 to win a Senate seat.

And if a Democrat wins Kansas, Republicans can say goodbye to taking over the Senate.

Shake up your life a little and vote Tuesday.

If Sen. Pat Roberts survives Wolf — and the thinking here is that he will, but it may be closer than people think — he can thank one particular news story.

Earlier this year, The Topeka Capital-Journal published a lengthy account about 4-year-old Facebook posts by Wolf in which the Johnson County radiologist poked fun at gunshot victims he treated.

Roberts has pounded Wolf for it. You can’t help but wonder where Wolf’s campaign would have wound up if not for this story.

In Kansas City, President Barack Obama poured gasoline on the inferno that is D.C. gridlock with his “stop just hating all the time” admonition to Republicans.

But why was Obama here to begin with? Good question, Steve. With Obama’s ratings dipping into the low 40s, the president needs to reconnect with voters. And with House Republicans voting to sue the president for overreaching his authority, Obama wanted to send a message: Don’t pay attention to what he considers a silly legal action.

“Everybody recognizes this is a political stunt,” Obama said.

Missouri Democrats are wondering to what extent Gov. Jay Nixon will hit the campaign trail this fall on behalf of his party — and to what extent he’ll help financially.

Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster is in for $200,000. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill upped the ante to $240,000 last weekend. Governor?

“I’ll raise money and I’ll contribute,” Nixon told The Star’s editorial board Thursday.

He declined to provide a precise amount.

To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to skraske@kcstar.com.

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