Tuesday’s Takeaway: Election suspense in Kansas; few surprises in Missouri

Republican Josh Hawley won over 300,000 votes in the primary. Democrat McCaskill garnered over 500,000.

The Primary Races in Review

By Samuel Ast

 Missouri

Senate

Democratic senator Claire McCaskill won her party’s primary with roughly 82% of the vote. She will face off against Republican nominee Josh Hawley, the state’s attorney general. Hawley won by over 300,000 votes.

Hawley got a last minute boost due to a visit by both president Trump and Vice President Pence in the months before the election.

Both senator McCaskill and attorney general Hawley have faced criticisms throughout their campaigns. Hawley’s campaign has been distracted by the Attorney General’s investigations into former governor Eric Greitens, while McCaskill has been faced with attacks that she has not been focused on the state’s urban centers and minorities, in cities like St Louis and Kansas City.

McCaskill is seen nationally as one of the most vulnerable senators up for re-election in November. This is due, in part, to the fact that Trump carried the state by nearly 20 points in 2016. Though, Democrats see McCaskill as particularly well suited to navigate the state’s electorate this fall by reaching out to rural voters and taking a more conciliatory stance towards Republicans and bipartisanship—both of which play well in Missouri.

Proposition A

 On Tuesday, over 900,000 Missourians voted ‘No’ on Proposition A, overwhelmingly declaring their opposition towards Missouri as a ‘right-to-work’ state. This vote marks a victory for labor unions and workers across Missouri– and a defeat of former Governor Eric Greitens’ championed ‘Right-to-Work’ legislation, which would have barred unions from collecting mandatory dues from workplace employees, and would even have allowed workers to opt out of joining in the first place.. The ‘right-to-work’ legislation, passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor in February of 2017, will not take effect now, as a result of this referendum.

Jackson County Executive

Jackson County Executive Frank White won reelection by an astoundingly large margin, of roughly 4-1. Coming in second place was challenger Matthew Merryman. The race played out largely as expected, though it is still surprising that the many personal scandals of White and the city crises facing Kansas City, and the county at large, did not play a bigger factor in the final vote tally. Receiving around 26,000 total votes, White will now look toward the last obstacle standing between himself and four more years as Executive, and that is Green party nominee Nathan Kline. If White prevails in November, voters will be expecting progress on policies that aim to fix the problem-plagued county jail. Help from the county legislature might be hard to find given the tense relationship White has too often encountered. In the 4th district, Dan Tarwater held onto his seat in the face of primary challenger John Maloney. He will run unopposed in November–as will many of those who overcame their opponents last night. In the second district at-large seat, incumbent Crystal Williams won with over 63% of the vote. In an unusual development in the Jackson County Sheriff’s race, the primary process has been circumvented and party leaders, rather than Tuesday’s voters, will decide who will square off in November for the position.

 

The governor’s race between Republicans Jeff Colyer and Kris Kobach have yet to be determined.

Kansas

 Kansas Congressional District 3

If you thought that the results of Tuesday’ primary election in Kansas could not trickle in any slower than they did late into the evening, you would be wrong. Due to mechanical issues affecting Johnson County’s new voting systems, results for a majority of precincts out of Johnson County did not start arriving until 1:30 a.m.. As of 3 a,m, and with just over half of all precincts reporting, Brent Welder and Sharice Davids were locked in a tight battle, with Welder in the lead by only 100 votes. [Davis won with 37% of the vote; Welder 34%] Republican incumbent representative Kevin Yoder dispatched his primary challengers, as he was widely assumed to do, and will now be facing off against the Democratic nominee later this year.

The results of this hotly contested primary election show just how real the divide within the Democratic party is. In a battle between the establishment and the progressive wing of the party, the outcome was far from assured. However, in a six-way election, voters decided on one of two of the most progressive candidates to represent the party and face off against the incumbent in November.

Figures like Senator Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made appearances in the district in the last few weeks of the campaign, while President Trump came to town to endorse Yoder, earlier in July.

This district voted for senator Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary— and Wyandotte County, one of three counties that the 3rd district encompasses, voted for Clinton in the general election that November.

Kansas is a predominately red state that voted for Trump by more than 20 points. Yet Democrats have an unusual history of success here. Former governor Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, enjoyed widespread support in the state in recent years while occupying the governor’s mansion from 2003-2009. Dennis Moore, also a Democrat, served for over a decade as the Representative for the 3rd district, the seat Yoder now occupies.

Although Yoder is flush with campaign dollars, he is seen as vulnerable in a district that includes Johnson County, a suburb characterized by upper-middle class, college educated voters and women. These demographics might not play well for Republicans in the Fall.

KS Governor

Laura Kelley will represent the Democrats in the gubernatorial elections in November. She and her running mate, Lynn Rogers, took about 51% of the Democratic vote. She had the support of former Kansas governor and Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, opening the doors to massive amounts of cash from donor networks built by Sebelius over the years in the state.

As of 3 a.m., Republican firebrand, Kris Kobach, lead current governor Jeff Colyer by about 500 votes in the state’s gubernatorial primary. Kobach was endorsed last minute by president Trump via Twitter. He was, until recently, at the helm of the president’s now defunct voter fraud commission, and has been a leading voice among conservative Republican circles that have been demanding tougher stances and policies on legal, illegal immigration.

The independent ticket, led by Greg Orman and running mate John Doll, will be a wild card in elections this fall. The campaign is widely assumed to be a detriment for Democrats in November due to the potential siphoning of moderate or unaffiliated voters that might otherwise back Kelley.

The effect of Orman’s candidacy is all the more salient when looking at the Republican nominee for governor this fall, Kris Kobach. Having won with a plurality of the vote, Kobach is likely better positioned to win with an independent spoiler, like Orman, in the race.

The general election will be held on November 6, 2018.

 

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