Seems like Jason Kander’s qualifications and persistence have struck a larger Democratic nerve as he runs to take the the Senate seat currently occupied by GOPer Roy Blunt. Roll Call speculates that Kander is one of:
… two other Democratic recruits who could forge paths to victory in the right political environment: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona and Secretary of State Jason Kander in Missouri. Both are adept politicians who face strong GOP incumbents in states that lean Republican in presidential years, but could swing the Democrats’ way in the event of unforced Republican errors.
The Roll Call writers, Emily Cahn and former Missourian Eli Yokley, also discuss the potential of the presidential race to influence the outcome for candidates like Kander:
An unpalatable GOP presidential nominee could also shift the tide towards Democrats, giving them an opening down the ballot. With businessman Donald Trump – who has broken nearly every convention in running a presidential campaign as he’s offended significant segments of the electorate – as the Republican front-runner, there’s a chance that could happen.
There’s even more evidence that Kander is getting some serious attention. Even though the Daily Kos analysis of the potential outcome of the 2015-16 Senate races lists the Kander/Blunt race as “likely Republican,” they define that category as a race in which the GOP has “a strong advantage and is likely to win, though the race has the potential to become more competitive.”
That’s relatively good news given how entrenched Blunt has become over the years. Missouri voters (and the Kander campaign) just have to activate that potential. And of course, given the current polling results, as Cahn and Yokley suggest, it’s possible the GOP base itself just might take care of the whole Trump issue in a way that would help Kander and maybe free us from Blunt’s version of pay-to-play legislating.
Just to give you an idea about what a Kander victory could mean to us, here’s the text of an email he send out to his supporters today:
Did you watch last night’s Republican presidential debate?
For a good portion of the proceedings, the candidates were all attempting to outdo each other over who would shutdown the government fastest in an effort to deny women health care needs like mammograms, Pap tests, and STD screenings.
And the truth is, our dysfunctional U.S. Senate is steamrolling straight toward this fight. It’s going to happen.
But there are a few people who can stop this travesty by publicly standing up to bombasts in the chamber like Ted Cruz, and one of them is my opponent, a member of Republican leadership, Senator Roy Blunt.
Call on Senator Roy Blunt to tell Ted Cruz to stop his crusade to shutdown the government over women’s health care.
A government shutdown would cost our country billions of dollars, cut the paychecks of millions of workers, and possibly cause delays for many veterans who rely on disability pay and education benefits.
Senator Blunt has the power to stop the Ted Cruz wing of the Republican Party. If you make your voice heard, I am hopeful that he will.
Although Blunt has been one of the leaders of the effort to defund Planned Parenthood and has shown a willingness in the past to attach unrelated partisan legislation to must-pass appropriation bills, he has already spoken out against using the Planned Parenthood fracus as an excuse to shutdown the government. He might, as Kander suggests, be open to constituent opinion. His most recent statements indicate that he is trying to have his metaphorical cake (pandering to anti-abortion Republicans) and eat it too (stopping short of a shutdown throwdown):
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of GOP leadership who also faces voters next year in his conservative state, said it makes sense to try to push a provision in a spending bill to defund Planned Parenthood on the Senate floor, even if there’s little chance of success.
“Sometimes, you have to go through an exercise in futility a time or two to truly prove it is an exercise in futility,” Blunt said.
But Blunt cautioned: “What I wouldn’t want to do is change the topic here from focusing on the conduct of Planned Parenthood to focusing on a shutdown … If we made a strategic mistake here, it would be changing the topic.”
This strategy is dangerous and could easily backfire. Kander is to be commended for using his candidacy to urge Blunt’s constituents to call upon the Senator to back away from the extremists in his party. Kander should especially be commended for his civil and conciliatory tone toward his rival for office. It is clear that Kander cares more for the outcome than reaping political advantage by sliming the eminently slimeable Blunt.
It is also clear which of these two has the potential to be a real statesman, a man worthy of representing Missourians. And it isn’t the guy who’s trying to balance craziness against common sense and in the process risking the well-being of the country. Speaking of “unforced errors, maybe it’s Blunt’s participation in the GOP shutdown stunts that will help shift the balance in Missouri – and Jason Kander’s “I think I can” will become “Yes, I did it.”
* Last sentence edited for clarity.