Did I mention that today is Election Day in Missouri? Early yesterday, Trump teased an endorsement in the Senate race. Since he had already denounced Vicky Hartzler and since he has a policy of never endorsing anyone who weighs over 400 pounds (disqualifying his old friend Billy Long), outright fascist sociopath Eric Greitens and far right extremist Eric Schmitt knew one of them would be getting the Trump nod. As it turned out, neither/both did. The fool endorsed “Eric” at 5pm. “ERIC,” wrote the grandstanding, self-absorbed idiot, “has my Complete and Total Endorsement.” Bernie upstaged the whole shebang by endorsing Lucas Kunce in the Democratic race.
The New Republic has just published a stellar piece on Kunce, The Democrat Who Thinks He Can Win Back Missouri With Populism, noting that Kunce is a different kind of Democrat— and not one waiting around for an electoral miracle the way nothing Democratic candidates in Florida and North Carolina are. “Dressed in a black T-shirt, Kunce, a 39-year-old, Yale-educated Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, radiated coiled energy as passion rose in his voice,” wrote Walter Shapiro. “‘The country-club Republicans are the reason we have Donald Trump,’ he said. ‘They sold our industries overseas and told us that it was good for us. They ran Nafta through and told us it was good for us. They said Big Ag was good.’ Then, turning on his own party, he added, ‘Frankly, there were a lot of country-club Democrats that were doing it right alongside them. And that’s why when Democrats stopped standing for something different and stopped fighting for workers, they started losing… With his populist, anti-corporate arguments, Kunce comes out of the Truman ‘give them hell’ tradition.”
The primary is a study in contrasts— Kunce’s disciplined anti-corporate message versus Busch Valentine’s genial generalities. After ducking debates, Busch Valentine has given occasional television interviews that offered an adventurous can-she-get-through-the-next-answer quality. Last Monday, speaking with KMOX in St. Louis, she initially responded to a question about laws banning school discussion of gender identity in the early grades by denouncing “critical race theory,” which is both a right-wing talking point and a subject totally unconnected with the query. As Jeff Smith, a St. Louis-based Democratic lobbyist, put it, referring to another stumbling novice candidate, “She’s Herschel Walker with more money and fewer concussions.”
…Even with daunting odds against the Republicans, Kunce would be an intriguing Senate candidate, assuming he prevails in the primary. What he offers is a different road for the Democrats than that of moderates such as McCaskill and now Busch Valentine. “Kunce may be onto a strategy that pays dividends down the line,” said Daniel Ponder, a political science professor at Drury University. “It might signal a return to Democratic populism.”
…What Kunce is offering voters is a fresh set of political villains—predatory lenders, corporate executives shipping jobs to China, and private equity firms buying houses and then jacking up the rents. And what he is up against in Tuesday’s primary illustrates his populist arguments, since Busch Valentine has injected $5 million of her personal wealth into the race to fund her late TV blitz.
But there’s much to be said for a different-drummer Democrat in a difficult political environment. Smith, who has not endorsed in the race, adroitly summed it up: “Kunce is fresh, he’s got a unique message, he presents well. What do we have to lose?”
The wildcard in the general election is an establishment conservative milquetoast Republican, John Wood, officially jumping into the race yesterday as an independent. Former U.S. Senator John Danforth, a quintessential establishment Republican who served as a Missouri senator from 1976 to 1995, recruited Wood to run and is laboring under the delusion that his name still means something in Missouri GOP politics.
Recent polls have shown the controversial Greitens fading amid an onslaught of negative ads against him, but the 52-year-old Wood said he wasn’t worried about possibly facing Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt or Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, who have led in recent polling.
“I think he’s very divisive,” Wood said of Schmitt. “And I really don’t know that much about Trudy Busch Valentine, except I know she’s going to support Chuck Schumer for majority leader.”
Wood added he wasn’t assuming Schmitt and Valentine would win their respective primaries.
Wood has also said he would back Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for majority leader, while the three leading Republicans— Greitens, Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler— have all distanced themselves from the Kentucky Republican.
…“He’s sending a signal that McConnell is not extreme enough and divisive enough for him,” Wood said of Schmitt. “And so I think that’s the last thing we need is to move even further to the extremes.”