For Pete's Sake

Tim Kaine’s love of KU hoops? ‘He’s going to lose 80 percent of the Mizzou vote’

Scott Jones, secretary of the KC Tiger Club, knows all’s fair in politics.

So when you ask Jones about Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s, um, unusual sports affiliations (he’s a Mizzou grad who is a fan of KU basketball), Jones can differentiate between real life and the political world.

“As far as the guy, not the politician, if he’s just Scott Jones, a regular Joe, and he went to MU and graduated and then went on, and all I knew is that he went to MU and he’s a KU fan, I’d say, well, what a traitor,” Jones said.

While serving as governor of Virginia in 2008, Kaine told The Washington Post that he wasn’t a fan of Jayhawks football ahead of the Orange Bowl game against Virginia Tech (Kaine bet on the Hokies and lost). But he said liked KU basketball.

Kaine grew up in Overland Park, attended Rockhurst High and then went to Mizzou. His parents attended K-State, so he has that rare affiliation with all three schools.

But that KU-Mizzou combination didn’t sit well with Joe Walljasper of the Columbia Daily Tribune.

“It’s possible there was a mix-up at the hospital and he was sent home with the wrong couple,” Walljasper wrote. “But it’s harder to explain how a teenaged KU basketball fan in the mid-1970s would choose to attend MU, where the benevolent dictator Norm Stewart was starting to threaten the Jayhawks’ God-given right to win Big Eight titles.

“We expect moral flexibility in our politicians, but there are limits.”

Jones said that during his time at Mizzou, he ran into maybe two students who were KU fans, but they were from another country.

“They didn’t know any better,” he said. “They didn’t bleed black and gold.”

Jones has a reasonable explanation, however, for the KU-Mizzou conundrum.

“I don’t think he’s a true KU basketball fan,” Jones said. “He’s like one of those guys that lives in Kansas, saw KU everywhere and said, well they must be good. I don’t think he’s a sports nut is the thing. He’s riding that political: ‘Well, I’m a MU grad, so I can get votes that way, but I like KU basketball, so I can get votes that way.’ …

“He’s going to lose 80 percent of the Mizzou vote.”

But there is a happy ending, one that Mizzou and KU fans can agree on: Kaine is a Royals fan. He mentioned them during his first speech as the VP nominee and he tweeted his support during the 2014 World Series.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff