In the wake of Tuesday’s primaries, I bet you have lots of questions.
You came to the right guy.
Does anyone on the coasts care about political developments in the heartland?
We made national news thanks to Prop C, the anti-health-care reform vote that passed resoundingly in Missouri, and immigration crusader Kris Kobach’s easy win for the GOP nomination for Kansas secretary of state.
Other years it has been gay marriage or the teaching of evolution. We know how to score headlines out here.
Did Democrats make a strategic blunder in not contesting Prop C more vigorously?
Yepper. From the start, the party kept its distance from the health care question.
They figured it would pass no matter what they did. So why soil themselves by trying to stop it?
But that decision led to the resolution winning with 71 percent and becoming a rallying cry for Republicans in Missouri — and nationwide.
And it only contributed to the dispirited ranks of Democrats. Why should rank-and-file party members defend health care reform if party leaders are taking a pass?
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s position on Prop C? Get this: He didn’t take one.
Who was the big winner Tuesday night?
One, for sure, was Jerry Moran in Kansas, who at 56 could be a U.S. senator for 18 years.
But another big winner was Roy Blunt, the Missouri Senate candidate who cruised to an easy win over nine primary opponents with 71 percent.
So what, you say? Blunt’s opponents were toadies.
Yeah, they were. But consider the road Blunt walked to clear the primary field of land mines that might have undermined his campaign. First, he talked Sarah Steelman, the former state treasurer, out of the race. Then he and others worked to move Tom Schweich into the race for state auditor.
Finally, there was the last man standing — Missouri Sen. Chuck Purgason. I’ve noted before that Purgason was a great story line waiting to happen with his tea party, anti-establishment credentials.
But he never took off because, again, Blunt put in hours talking to tea party leaders around the state, convincing them that he was an ally, not an enemy.
In short, the primary could have left Blunt at barely 50 percent support and been a major stumble. Instead, Blunt turned it into an asset.
What was the biggest upset Tuesday night?
Bryan Pratt’s defeat in the race for the Missouri Senate in the Lee’s Summit area. Fellow state lawmaker Will Kraus nipped Pratt 40 to 37 percent and is a lock to win in November.
Pratt had a lot going for him. He was the sitting House speaker pro tem. He has drive and enough personal energy to power a city for a year. And he had money — easily a 2-to-1 advantage over Kraus.
But Pratt had something else, and that was the image of the consummate Jeff City insider with close ties to disgraced former speaker Rod Jetton. Even Republicans said Pratt had lost his way over the years to become part of the dark side in the Capitol.
Maybe. Then again, maybe not. In a solidly Republican district, the only way she can lose is if independents and moderate Republicans continue to back the 17-term chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Hartzler will have to go out and get those voters, and that probably means taking a few small steps to the left.
The author of a political how-to-book, “Running God’s Way,” Hartzler once said that the way to respond to an attack from your opponent is to pray:
“Rest in God’s peace knowing He is in total control.”
Whether that philosophy allows her to make an effective appeal to independents remains to be seen.
Is Democratic strength in Missouri continuing to wane?
Yep. Consider this. More than 1.8 Republicans went to the polls Tuesday in Missouri for every Democrat. In the 2008 presidential primaries and the 2002, 2004 and 2006 party primaries, Democrats outnumbered Republicans at the polls.
Go back to 1976 and the trend line is even clearer. Democrats are gradually losing their edge.
What’s the first big controversy Republican Sam Brownback will face as he runs for governor?
Whether he will get pushed to rid Kansas of its new 1-cent sales tax.
GOP dogma suggests that Brownback make that priority one. But he’s not going there.
“That’s not going to be the initial focus,” he said last week. “The initial focus is going to be a government spending freeze and focus on the school finance formula.”
Let’s see how that position flies.