Let me say this as plainly as I can: This year’s midterm elections in Kansas are as fascinating as any I’ve covered.
But let’s look ahead at a set of questions lingering Tuesday. Their answers dramatically reshape politics in our two states.
What will Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri do?
No question looms as large. McCaskill, a Democrat, has done little to dampen speculation that she is at least considering a run for governor in 2016.
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The latest example came this week in the wake of news stories detailing Attorney General Chris Koster’s decision to halt an investigation of 5-Hour Energy after he was lobbied. Koster is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
“I’m confident Attorney General Koster is taking seriously the issues highlighted by this story,” McCaskill said in a statement. That certainly didn’t qualify as moral support.
The senator has donated nearly $500,000 to her fellow Missouri Democrats this year, an eye-popping total. She’s putting down markers.
She has always wanted to be governor. And why stick around the Senate in the minority? A decision to run would mean abandoning her seat and shoving Koster aside, which McCaskill could do. She would recalibrate the 2016 ballot. She is that significant a player.
Will Milton Wolf pull the trigger again?
This week’s grudging endorsement of Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas by the tea partier gives Wolf the veneer of a team player. He came close against Roberts in the August primary. Now he must decide whether to take on a second Republican senator, Jerry Moran, in 2016.
Will Mike Sanders finally jump into a statewide race?
The Jackson County executive is about to win his third term. In recent years, the Democrat has talked of running for lieutenant governor or attorney general. Now some want him to run for U.S. Senate, a race where he would face long-shot, one-in-five odds.
Will Democrats put up a top-tier candidate against Republican Sen. Roy Blunt in 2016?
Increasingly, Blunt appears headed to a re-election cakewalk. He has already scared off rivals, including Gov. Jay Nixon, with his “reasonable Republican” persona. Nearly $2 million in campaign cash helps too.
If Gov. Sam Brownback loses Tuesday, how do statehouse Republicans in Kansas react?
They could back off their tax cut mantra or move ahead full steam, as Brownback plans. Here’s guessing the answer is pedal-to-the-metal on tax cuts, opening the door to Democratic advances in 2016.