What can you say about a man who runs six times for Kansas City’s congressional seat and loses every race?
You might call Jacob Turk the first thing that comes to mind. “He’s a loser.” To that, Turk would just laugh.
You don’t get it, he would say. You don’t understand Jacob Turk at all.
Turk, 61, is now going full Harold Stassen, meaning his perpetual candidacy is expanding to other offices. Stassen was best-known for his streak of presidential campaigns and his races for governor and senator and just about any office. He lost over and over and over again.
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This year, to the chagrin of some of his fellow Republicans, Turk launched a wholly unexpected campaign for a vacant Missouri Senate seat.
Turk, who lives in Lee’s Summit, is running not as a Republican this time, but as an independent. He says he couldn’t care less that the GOP establishment is hopping mad about it.
Republicans are miffed because Turk’s candidacy threatens to divide the GOP vote and hand the race to Democrat Hillary Shields. A Democrat has won the 8th District but once in 40 years. We’re talking solid Republican turf here and a seat the GOP depends on.
Only now, they can’t count on it at all.
The big shots such as Missouri GOP chairman Todd Graves, who came to see Turk, presumably to get him out of the race, don’t get it either. Turk, as his persistence suggests, just wants to serve. He wants to help people. He’s not pushing issues. In fact, in a 30-minute interview, they’re hardly mentioned.
There’s a story here.
On two consecutive Sunday mornings in early 2006, Turk was at his Lee’s Summit Community Church listening to the final hymns when something hit him out of the blue. “An impression was laid on my heart,” as he puts it.
He didn’t roll on the floor or race to the alter. Something in those hymns stirred something deep inside. Just like that, Turk was running for Congress as he felt led to do.
“I just know I’ve been called to run,” he said.
Something similar happened this year when state Sen. Will Kraus resigned after Gov. Eric Greitens appointed him to the Tax Commission. Suddenly, Kraus’ seat was wide open.
Turk is calling this race his toughest yet. So many personal hits, he says, courtesy of the GOP establishment.
“Say whatever you want about (Emanuel) Cleaver, I never got those kinds of attacks,” Turk said of his longtime congressional opponent.
Turk decided to run as an independent because Republican Mike Cierpiot had quickly sown up the GOP nomination in the state Senate race. Cierpiot, Turk says, had been working the district for years. Turk never had a chance. He also says Republicans barely lifted a finger for him during all his congressional races. But Turk insisted he’s not getting even. “They were just doing what political people do.”
For now, Turk, who has loads of name ID thanks to all those congressional runs, is giving people a choice. He’s not afraid of competition. Let the voters decide.
“I really do just want to serve people.”
I heard once that it’s never a good idea to stand between a man and his faith. But that’s what Republicans are trying to do and why it just may blow up on them come Nov. 7.