The Buzz

Kander backs Smith for Jackson County Legislature

Jason Kander, Missouri’s secretary of state who makes everyone’s list of up-and-coming Democrats, today endorsed Sherwood Smith for the Jackson County Legislature.

But why?

Smith, a veteran firefighter and union leader, is running against a local sports legend — Frank White, the former Royals second baseman who was on the team when the local boys in blue last won a World Series in 1985.

In a low-turnout primary election like the one looming on Aug. 5, name ID is worth its weight in gold, and White needs a Brink’s truck to haul his around.

And Smith? Hello? Not exactly a household name.

All this is a long way of saying that White is the heavy favorite.

Still, here came Kander on Tuesday. He joined Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Mayor Sly James and Attorney General Chris Koster in backing Smith. Kander announced his support in an enthusiastic two-page news release that’s capped with this quote:

“I proudly endorse Sherwood Smith, a public servant who has risked his life for the public’s safety and has devoted his career to fighting for working families.”

The explanation for all these big-time pols running to Smith’s aid can be summed up in a word and a number: Local 42.

The union has long been a potent political force. They form a powerful get-out-the-vote machine, and that’s incredibly valuable in a Democratic city like this one.

Smith is a former political director of Local 42. He also was the first African-American president of the Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters.

Kander, McCaskill and James all would benefit from Local 42’s help down the road in re-election campaigns.

For the record, Kander also cited Smith’s commitment to county campaign finance limits, which is a long-time goal of Kander’s for the state, and Smith’s commitment to fighting poverty.