Local Columnists

With 10 days to go, Democrat Jay Sidie is hiding

Democrat Jay Sidie passed out campaign stickers during the Overland Park Fall Festival parade on Sept. 24, but recently it seems he’s gone underground.
Democrat Jay Sidie passed out campaign stickers during the Overland Park Fall Festival parade on Sept. 24, but recently it seems he’s gone underground. Special to The Star

Jay Sidie has gone underground.

The Democratic candidate for Kansas’ 3rd District congressional seat is not here, not there — not anywhere.

At the most crucial moment of his campaign against Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder, Sidie won’t return phone calls. He won’t return texts. He won’t debate, and he’s not available to answer questions.

Public events? Can’t find any.

Jay Sidie’s become the ghost candidate.

That may be OK for Halloween, but it’s not so good for voters eager to learn more about one of the most intriguing candidates in Kansas, Missouri or anywhere this cycle.

Sidie has opted to play it ultrasafe, gambling that he can win by going underground and not risking a mistake or saying anything that might turn off potential voters.

Cynical it is, not to mention lousy for good ol’ American democracy.

It’s also bad judgment.

It’s a mistake that very well could cost Sidie the race and, possibly, a Democratic majority in Washington. The 3rd District is seen as one of the pivotal 30 seats that Democrats need to flip to regain a governing coalition in the House.

Democrats are so juiced about the potential pickup that they’ve thrown a cool $1 million at the race with those ads that tie Yoder to the vastly unpopular Gov. Sam Brownback.

Sidie’s especially intriguing because like Senate candidate Jason Kander on the Missouri side, he’s got a shot at knocking off a Republican incumbent, thanks to Donald Trump’s unpopularity. Trump is said to trail Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 3rd District by 10 points or more.

That’s dragging down Yoder.

A Sidie win would rank as one of the year’s two or three most improbable upsets anywhere.

I spent much of last weekend negotiating an eleventh-hour “Up to Date” debate on KCUR between Sidie and Yoder. In an interesting twist, Yoder suddenly was eager to go toe-to-toe with Sidie in a live, in-studio debate. Sidie’s team considered the offer, then said it was too soon, but then stopped returning phone calls when I offered three other dates.

(Yoder was the one declining to debate a few weeks ago when he was still riding high as the prohibitive favorite).

I then texted Sidie’s campaign a Plan B: Let me sit down for a chat with the candidate for breakfast or lunch or coffee. I wanted to kick Sidie’s tires, so to speak, and find out who this Democratic phenom really is.


Other reporters are getting shut out, too.

Sidie’s no-show tactics suggest that he could be a quarter pounder with cheese and get elected this year over a Republican who’s endorsed Trump.

Voters, though, deserve more.

In his ads, Jay Sidie insists that he’s no politician. But playing peek-a-boo with potential constituents suggests just the opposite. He’s become a politician just like the rest of ’em.

Steve Kraske: 816-234-4312, @stevekraske