Here’s a prediction you can take to the bank: No one is going to complain about the quality of the field for Kansas City mayor.
At least eight candidates could make a credible claim that they could finish first or second in the April 2 primary, thereby making it into the two-candidate June runoff.
The field has City Hall vets and outsiders new to elective politics. There’s a range of ages and candidates hailing from all corners of town.
But as February approaches, this campaign is generating barely a whisper of buzz.
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The campaign has already stunned. Jolie Justus is in the race, she’s out, she’s back in. Jason Kander, the Democratic wunderkind, was in and out. An early potential frontrunner was arrested for drunken driving — while sitting in his car.
With just nine weeks to go before the first vote, the race stacks up like this:
▪ Jolie Justus: She’s back where she started, ensconced on top based on her boffo fourth-quarter fundraising that yielded four times more in donations than anybody else.
The $212,844 haul was what Justus needed to end the chatter that she didn’t want the job that badly after dropping out to make way for Kander, the former Missouri secretary of state.
Justus holds several aces. She remains the only woman likely to to win. She’s popular with the LGBT set. And she’s the wise bet to win Mayor Sly James’ endorsement.
But Justus is attached to the festering Kansas City International Airport terminal issue. And when’s the last time voters elected a sitting council member as mayor? Say hello to 1991 and Councilman Emanuel Cleaver.
▪ Attorney Stephen Miller: makes the biggest jump in these rankings as the candidate most likely to grab the outsider mantle. A former chair of the Missouri Highway Commission, Miller has the backing of the blue bloods. He also has $252,281 in the bank.
▪ Councilman Quinton Lucas: It’s tempting to move the campaign’s most charismatic candidate down a notch, given the DUI arrest. But soundings from around town suggest that Lucas has weathered it and, in a counterintuitive way, may have benefited from what some see as an abuse of police power. The case, though, hasn’t gone away. Another big question: Can he win the backing of Freedom Inc., the East Side political club, giving him an East Side and Ward Parkway voting bloc?
▪ Councilman Scott Taylor: He’s doing a lot right. He’s out most weekends with volunteers campaigning door to door. He passed an East Side development plan that key leaders applauded. But he failed to raise even $10,000 last quarter and is burning through campaign money, though he may be laying the groundwork. He needs to light a spark in meetings with political clubs.
▪ Phil Glynn: The Crossroads businessman remains the sleeper with the most potential to jump furthest the fastest. He’s got get-out-the-vote guru Phil Scaglia in his corner.
▪ Councilman Scott Wagner: The mayor pro tem may be the candidate best suited to walk in the door and actually do the job. That said, his fundraising lags, and if the Northlander is locking up his home turf, no one seems to know it.
▪ Council members Alissia Canady and Jermaine Reed: Canady impresses, but she and Reed have to raise more dough.
▪ Clay Chastain leads a tail-end group that includes Henry Klein, Vincent Lee and Roi Chinn.