Kansas City has hardly been a hotbed of political activity, even though a big Missouri Republican primary is just 21/2 weeks off.
We’ve had few candidate appearances. No news conferences. No hometown debates. And surprisingly few TV ads.
Considering that there’s an intriguing race for U.S. Senate on the primary ballot and an increasingly negative spat for lieutenant governor, that makes little sense.
What’s up? Why the lack of attention? Well, brace yourself, KC. Here comes a hard slap across the chops.
We don’t matter all that much. We don’t have that much clout. We don’t carry that big a stick, at least when it comes to GOP primaries.
That may be hard to believe, considering that Kansas City ranks as the state’s biggest city. But it’s also reality. These days, when it comes to the GOP, we’re a political desert.
“A dead zone” is how GOP consultant Jeff Roe put it.
Dead for a bunch of reasons.
Begin with votes, or the lack thereof. One leading Republican told me that just 18 percent of the GOP vote comes from the KC area. The St. Louis area accounts for about 30 percent. Springfield chips in 30 percent.
Check out the raw numbers from the 2008 GOP primary for governor. Kenny Hulshof got 8,700 votes from Jackson, Clay and Platte counties — and 43,500 from St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties.
Steelman won 15,775 votes from the three Kansas City area counties — and 23,500 from St. Louis County alone.
Get the picture?
Then consider TV advertising. To buy a week of TV in this market costs a campaign $150,000 — about the same as St. Louis, which reaches far more GOP primary voters.
Placing the same ads in Springfield costs $50,000 and, again, reaches far more voters. That’s not the only problem with Kansas City television. Buying in this market means that roughly half your buy is seen by Kansans, who don’t vote in a Missouri primary.
So buying Kansas City TV makes little sense if you’re operating on a tight campaign budget.
I checked the TV buys at KSHB-TV, Channel 41, this week. Two of the three U.S. Senate candidates — Todd Akin and Sarah Steelman — hadn’t spent a nickel there. John Brunner, who’s largely self-financing his bid, did.
Republican insiders say GOP clubs in Kansas City aren’t as well organized as elsewhere in the state. And St. Louis media are more attuned to politics.
There’s one more factor. As I’ve written over the years, Kansas City has a reputation as cheap when it comes to making political donations to either candidates of either party.
No wonder the Republicans aren’t coming here.
To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to email@example.com.