Questions and more questions, and I’ve got answers:
* The 2012 Mo-Kan Pol of the Year? Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. It’s an easy call.
The Democratic senator was taken for roadkill when the year began, then took the extraordinary step — and sizable gamble — by paying for tens of thousands of dollars in political ads that were ostensibly against but actually worked for Todd Akin, one of her Republican opponents. Pundits will debate for years whether the ads gave Akin the win in a tough GOP primary.
But McCaskill got the candidate she wanted and then anticipated that the St. Louis congressman with a penchant for uttering the outrageous would do it again. Boy, was she right.
Even then, the race was thought to be competitive until election night, when McCaskill racked up a 16-point win.
* Runner-up: Jason Kander. Another easy call.
Kander, a 31-year-old state rep, just made the improbable leap to statewide office as Missouri secretary of state-elect. He's now about to become the youngest elected statewide official in the nation.
* Who’s on the hot seat at the dawn of 2013? Say hello to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who faces enormous challenges balancing the state budget the next two years in light of last year’s massive tax cut.
* Hot Seat II: Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who’s going all in on his bid for the 8th District congressional seat in southeast Missouri. Incumbent Jo Ann Emerson is vacating the post for a private-sector job.
Kinder, who was running for governor last year until a spate of bad publicity knocked him out of that race, was just re-elected in November. Now he’s gunning for a new job, and that move threatens to taint his image.
* That said, Kinder is the early front-runner to win the nod of the 8th District GOP committee that picks a successor. But it’s close. Also in the hunt: Missouri GOP executive director Lloyd Smith. Said to be interested, but unlikely to win it: Sarah Steelman.
* What’s happening Monday that need not be? The Electoral College meets in Missouri and Kansas and in each of the states. It’s a winner-take-all anachronism. The worst thing about it: The presidential votes of so many Americans don’t count. Around here, that means Democrats in Kansas and Missouri.
The early buzz says “no.” He wants a second term in his current job and recognizes that both would be tough to beat.
* What’s the takeaway from the KC streetcar vote? Just how badly Mayor Sly James and other city leaders wanted this thing.
They designed a vote they knew they could win and finally pushed mass transit across the finish line. The line better succeed. James now owns it.
To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send e-mail to email@example.com. Follow him @stevekraske.