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Steve Kraske: Jason Kander sees an opening against Sen. Roy Blunt

Missouri secretary of state and recently announced U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander says Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, is more vulnerable than many might think.
Missouri secretary of state and recently announced U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander says Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, is more vulnerable than many might think.

Three things you should know about Missouri politics as Show-Me Republicans descend on Kansas City for their annual Reagan Lincoln Days weekend:

▪ Democrat Jason Kander, who just announced for the U.S. Senate, did so because he’s convinced that Republican Roy Blunt is more vulnerable than people think.

Democratic surveys suggest that Missourians don’t know what Blunt has done in his 17 years in Congress. What they do know, leading Democrats said this week, is that he’s been in Washington a while.

That’s not a good profile.

Given those poll results, Kander looked hard at the calendar. He said earlier that he’d announce his plans this summer, a rather late start that instantly would have stamped his candidacy as not so serious. Legit Senate candidates these days need just about the entirety of the year before an election to raise money.

Democrats also are enthused with how Kander contrasts with Blunt. Kander is 33, Blunt 65. Kander is a military veteran. Blunt ran for his first office in 1972. Kander is an outsider, Blunt a big-time insider.

▪ When John Hancock looks in his crystal ball, he sees a long line of Republican primaries for years to come. The GOP dominates a term-limited General Assembly, meaning that all those ambitious lawmakers need higher offices to seek.

That means primaries, which remain costly and potentially hazardous to Republican nominees who emerge battered and broke from those skirmishes.

Hancock, expected to be elected Saturday as Missouri Republican Party chairman, thinks he’s got a solution: Move the primary date from August to June. Give winners time to heal and recoup the money they burned up winning the primary.

The good news for Hancock: Republicans so dominate the legislature that he can find the votes to pass his big idea.

The bad news: Not all GOP lawmakers like it. Imagine their predicament: They’re in session until mid-May. That would give them only a scant few weeks to campaign.

But Hancock is said to be determined. Finding ways to increase the chances of Republicans winning in November is the job of any good chairman.

▪ Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder isn’t talking. But lots of Republicans will be eyeing the three-term second banana this weekend to discern whether he finally opts in for governor in 2016.

Kinder holds a virtual lock on his current job. But with the governor’s field growing, insiders believe Kinder could top a crowded field.

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

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