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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Political Endorsements - Worth the Price of Admission?

In Kansas City it is political endorsement season. The 3rd district is highly contentious, even for endorsement groups in the district.

Endorsements often go to incumbents - a safe move by the endorsing group. The unpopular incumbent Mayor Funkhouser in KC is the #1 exception, not getting any endorsements so far.

The diversity of candidates in this election season is impressive - both in the Mayor's race and in the council races. There are black candidates in many districts, women in every race, and a white candidate in the predominantly minority district.

The Northland has spoken with Forward KC endorsements:
3rd district (no in-district endorsements outside of the Northland)
3rd district at-large - Durwin Rice
Mayor - Deb Herman

The Civic Association (primarily reflecting the 4th district) endorsed:
3rd district - no endorsement
3rd district at-large - Melba Curls (incumbent)
Mayor - Mike Burke

Combined Union Endorsement (Firefighters, AFL-CIO, building trades)
3rd district - Sharon Saunders Brooks (incumbent)
3rd district at-large - Melba Curls (incumbent)
Mayor - Mark Funkhouser (incumbent) <--update

Last night Freedom, Inc. endorsed and it was a shocker:
3rd district - no endorsement
3rd district at-large - Melba Curls (incumbent)
Mayor - Jim Rowland

The Chamber of Commerce and The Heavies (cap infrastructure industry) and Hispanic group endorsements are yet to come.

Chamber of Commerce
Mayor - Deb Herman <--update

There is a great deal of speculation, innuendo, and assumptions about whether endorsements reflect pay-to-play or are in fact honest endorsements of candidate quality. But as political clubs or political action committees, these groups have an agenda, have interests to be satisfied, and have political alliances with a lot of insiders that affect their selections - everything from political consultants, contractors, leaders from other organizations, and so on. Politics is about as inside a sport as you can get, even though it has a very public face.

Given the fractured nature of KC politics in this election, endorsements may not mean much because they don't mobilize a lot of votes. But in a crowded field with a ridiculous primary system that yields only the top 2 vote getters to the finals, just a few votes may have disproportionate influence.

The lack of endorsement by Freedom for 3rd district (in-district) is baffling. I'm sure there is an explanation that is fueled by political alliances (BUF for Brooks and the negative response to that and concern by some for Fletcher). But if Freedom, Inc. won't endorse in the 3rd, then what's the point of making endorsements? And why would Freedom endorse a non-candidate (not yet filed) Rowland who hasn't stepped foot in the 3rd yet? Speculation abounds, but the legitimacy of this organization is once again called into question by those who live outside the 3rd, further hampering the group's effectiveness. Whatever Eric Wesson writes in The Call this week should be a very interesting read. There are contrary reports on whether Durwin Rice sought endorsement from Freedom and if he appeared or not before the board to make a pitch.

Kudos to TKC who's timely info posts and lively political debate keeps everyone informed.


Anonymous said...

Durwin Rice did appear before Freedom Inc. You might check your "rumors" before you post them as fact.

Do you see me? said...

Thanks for the update. Since I wasn't at the meeting I was working off of what others had reported. I'll make the change.

no he didn't said...

Durwin Rice did not appear before Freedom Inc. he is friends with Clinton Adams. So it wasn't a rumor it is a fact, Rice didn't appear in front of freedom inc,maybe he did a closet deal but no open.