John Ashcroft, I’ve got some bad news for you.
Back in 2000, you were embroiled in the Ali-Frazier fight of Missouri politics — a one-on-one showdown with Democrat Mel Carnahan for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
It was one whopper of a race to end the century. And guess what? Your son didn’t even vote for you.
Or at least he didn’t vote in the August primary that set you up for that mega-showdown against Carnahan in November that year.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
That’s what the voting records from St. Louis County show, and records are flying all over the place these days as candidates jockey for position to pull out wins in the August primary.
Why are we talking about 16-year-old voting records? Because Jay Ashcroft is attempting to succeed his father — a former U.S. senator, two-term governor, two-term attorney general and state auditor — into statewide office as Missouri’s next secretary of state.
It surely is a humbling task because John Ashcroft ranks, along with his one-time Senate colleague Kit Bond, as among the most successful politicians in Missouri history.
But to win, Jay Ashcroft is going to have to address his voting history. It may not be drop-dead embarrassing. But it is, well, questionable.
Jay Ashcroft didn’t vote in that primary featuring his dad back in August 2000, and he didn’t vote in Missouri presidential primaries in 2000, 2004 or 2012. And he didn’t vote in the big Republican primary election in August 2008 when Republican candidates for governor Kenny Hulshof and Sarah Steelman squared off or the August 2004 primary election when that controversial constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman was on the ballot.
Altogether, he didn’t vote in seven big elections between 2000 and 2012. And here’s the rub: As secretary of state, he would be the state’s chief elections officer overseeing polling operations statewide.
Asked for a reaction, Ashcroft didn’t deny the blank spots in his voting record, though it’s only fair to point out that he did cast ballots in 19 other elections between 1999 and 2016.
“My entire adult life, I’ve been an active participant in Missouri elections, having been a voter, an elections observer and an elections judge,” he said in a statement.
He declined a request for an interview.
His chief rival for the GOP nomination, Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit, appears to have a better record, at least dating back to 2004, when he first ran for the Missouri House of Representatives. But even Kraus missed a few votes prior to that time: the 2004 presidential primary election in Missouri and three 2000 elections, including that same John Ashcroft primary election in 2000.
Both candidates were born in 1973.
How big a sin is this?
Kraus opted not to rub salt in Ashcroft’s wounds, though he did say this: “I will tell you that a person running for secretary of state, voting should have been a priority for at least the last 10 years,” he said.
I’ll buy that. I’ll also buy the idea that a solid voting record says something about seriousness of purpose and about one’s regard for the democratic process.
Especially for one running to become secretary of state.