Sunday, April 22, 2007

If You Liked Her as the Mayor, You'll LOVE Her in Congress!


Meet my Beloved Mayor. Her name is Kay Barnes. She will be exiting city hall gracefully after two wildly successful terms in office on May 1, leaving on a high note with a popularity rating that has been phenomenally high all eight years she has been in office. Her success in office is evidenced by the cranes punctuating the skyline, and the revitalized downtown.

She is going to take Sam Graves seat away from him in November 2008, and then KC will have two former mayors in the Congress.

I simply find it a wholly intolerable situation that Sam Graves (R MO 06) has a seat in congress in the first place. The word 'apostasy' seems an understatement when applied to that situation. The man is an embarrassment to Missourians and an offense to decent, thinking people everywhere. He is not our finest offering; that is certain. Since election night 2000, I have been plotting his political demise from the district to the south.

I live and vote in the Missouri 05/State Senate 10. My zip code is the bluest Missouri has to offer. My zip code is literally – and figuratively – as far left as the state goes. I want this blue tint to spread, because we have it pretty damned good, and I think all my fellow residents should be so fortunate. Being a liberal, I want to share, not just hoard the good stuff for myself. In this case the good stuff is responsive and responsible Democrats elected to office. Part of that good stuff I want to share is Kay Barnes.

I always have an eye cast toward future elections. When Kay Barnes sold her Ward Parkway mansion and moved north of the river a couple of years ago, I took note. She moved from the Missouri 05 to the Missouri 06. The 05 is solidly Democratic and currently represented by Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver II – Mayor Barnes predecessor at City Hall. A congressional bid in the 05 after her wildly successful time in the mayors office would have most likely involved a primary challenge to a sitting Democrat. Why would she do that when she could gain a seat for the Democrats and unseat an embarrassing stereotype in the process?

Graves has not had any serious competition since taking his seat. Sarah Jo Shettles earned the endorsement of the KC Star in the 06 midterms, but she garnered less than 40% of the vote.

Kay Barnes would not be such an easy opponent. And with vast personal wealth, she would be able to push back in the media against the Graves slime machine. Prime Graves: His opponent in November, Ms. Shettles, once sold advertising for Omni magazine. Because Bob Guiccioni owned Omni, he charged that she had worked for the porn industry. He is a typical right-wing bully, and his low-rent tactics would wither in the face of a pro like Barnes.

The Missouri 06 is largely rural, covering area from KC North all the way to the Iowa line, and reaching east to within a hundred miles of Illinois. Vast – but empty. The population growth that is happening in the MO-06 is all happening in Kay Barnes neighborhood – or Kansas City North.

She will go into the race with higher name recognition than anyone he has yet faced, perhaps with name recognition higher than Mr. Graves himself. Additionally, there has been very little negative reporting about Kay Barnes in the entire eight years she has been Mayor.

This is the race that will turn Missouri purple, after too-long in the red. It will shift Missouri’s nine-member House delegation to 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans. Our Senate delegation is split, and will be for the foreseeable future (McCaskill, Democrat, just elected in Class I and Kit Bond, Republican, Class III).

The Washington Post agrees with me:

The district's electoral history suggests the potential for real competitiveness. Although President Bush won the 6th relatively easily in 2000 and 2004, Sen. Claire McCaskill showed that the district's voters are willing to vote for the right Democrat. After losing the district by more than 20 points in her 2004 gubernatorial race, McCaskill narrowly carried it in 2006 over incumbent Sen. Jim Talent (R).

The Virginia Tech massacre turned the spotlight last week to gun control, a political hot potato that has been dormant in recent years on the national stage. But cross a presidential campaign with the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and you're going to get a gun debate -- another volatile wedge issue to define the crowded 2008 field.

Mayor Barnes will have credibility on the gun issue – KC has a lot of gun crime, and she and her Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Brooks have been effective on the issue on the local level. Her experience as a mayor of a large, urban area with a gun problem will be an asset, and the events of the last week have primed the long-overdue debate.

One thing is for sure – a farmer in Mercer County that hunts deer, quail and pheasant – and who sends the kids off to one of the state schools at Columbia or Springfield or Maryville or Warrensburg – is not identifying with the image of the V-Tech shooter staring into the camera, brandishing his guns and babbling incoherently. They more likely identify with the parents of the victims. Kay Barnes has dealt with the issue in real-time. Sam Graves has, for the last six years, offered mealy-mouthed platitudes and pablum.

No comments: