Elections

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Most of us have a week to go before the Big Vote. Kansans can cast their ballots early (and many are doing so), but Missourians have to wait until Nov. 8. For everyone who wants to vote on Election Day, here are some things you need to know:

1. What’s my registration status?

It doesn’t hurt to check before you go.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

With Election Day a week away, we check in with local political reporters for analysis of elections in Kansas and Missouri. Then, political commentator E.J. Dionne discusses the presidential campaign and themes from his book Why the Right Went Wrong. We finish with this week's Statehouse Blend Kansasfeaturing state Rep.

Hawley/Hensley
Courtesy of Hawley campaign; Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

Every Missouri attorney general since 1969 has sought higher office at the conclusion of their term, just as gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster is doing this year. Even so, the race to be the next attorney general hasn’t received much attention. Perhaps it should; this year’s two major candidates have completely different ideas about what the job even is.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

The number of registered voters in Kansas has risen by more than 40,000 since the 2012 presidential election, according the Secretary of State’s office. But it’s a different story in Wyandotte County. Even though the population of the big county in the Kansas City metro is growing, voter registrations are down by around 4,000 from four years ago.

In the days before the Oct. 18 registration deadline, a few volunteers were working to change that. They had unfolded a table in front of a Dollar Tree store to register voters in Kansas City, Kansas.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Education political action committees in Kansas are spreading around tens of thousands of dollars to help both conservative and moderate legislative candidates.

There are two big education political action committees in Kansas and they back very different candidates.

The Kansas NEA PAC is funded by contributions solicited by the union and in the last reporting period made about $29,000 in campaign contributions and spent $12,400 on polling.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Out on the campaign trail, there are a couple of competing narratives about what’s going on with the Kansas budget.

Both acknowledge that plummeting revenues have delayed road projects, increased the state’s bond debt and forced cuts in higher education, healthcare and safety net programs for poor Kansans.

But that’s where the stories diverge.

Moderate Republicans and Democrats running for the Legislature are blaming the 2012 income tax cuts championed by Governor Sam Brownback for crashing the state budget.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Senate hopeful Jason Kander has returned $25,000 in campaign contributions that are connected to an alleged straw donor system by a prominent Democratic law firm.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

In his third and last stop of the day, Missouri gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens made a campaign appearance in Kansas City Sunday night, after stops in both Springfield and St. Louis.

In what campaign workers described as one of the more crowded rallies of the day, over 130 people gathered for the event, with women making up about half of the crowd, many holding pink campaign signs reading "Women for Greitens."

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker joined Greitens on the campaign trail.

Nearly every voter in Missouri is aware of the contests for president and governor.

But there are also 48 trial and appellate judges who are hoping to remain on the bench through retention elections. 

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt may currently be Missouri's freshman senator but he has worked in the Capitol since 1997. Early in his career, he served as chief deputy whip for the GOP, eventually becoming House majority leader in 2005 and 2006.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt on Thursday denied ownership of pro-tobacco legislation that he tried to place in a homeland security bill in 2002, a criticism that has dogged him for a decade.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Against the backdrop of a presidential election in which gender issues have come to the fore, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Chris Koster was in Kansas City Wednesday to meet with women business leaders.

Koster says he’s proud of both the gender balance and pay equity in the attorney general’s office. He’d like to see equal pay protection extended to all Missouri women.

“We want to make sure that work environments are family friendly,” Koster says.

programwitch / Flickr-CC

The statewide team that's collaborating to cover elections in Kansas this year is taking your questions.

One question that seems to come up almost every election season, is why people sometimes vote against their own best interests — specifically their economic interests. 

Diane Wahto of Wichita asked it this way: 

Why do Kansans often vote against their best interests? ...

It’s a dreary, rainy day in Troy, Missouri, and Jason Kander is about to meet a small group of veterans at the Roasted Bean Coffee Shop. In a weird, parallel universe, the 35-year-old Democrat would be stumping for his second term as secretary of state. But Kander’s aiming higher and is focusing his time and energy on trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

Few national pundits believed Kander’s gambit would be worthwhile. They looked at presidential results and polls, and concluded (wrongly) Missouri was just too Republican for a Democrat to prevail. But Kander never bought into that type of assumptive prognostication. And now, Kander is within striking distance of being a building block for his party’s return to power in the U.S. Senate.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Nobody saw this coming. A Kansas congressional race so big that President Obama has weighed in with his endorsement of the Democrat.

But such is the unexpectedly tight race for the 3rd Congressional District.

Here’s the thing about the race between incumbent Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder and Democrat Jay Sidie: it feels like a race for state legislature rather than a run for Congress.

For the first time in 12 years, someone besides Peter Kinder will be lieutenant governor of Missouri.

Kinder jumped into the governor's race and lost in a crowded Republican primary, coming in third in a contest won by Eric Greitens. The major party candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot are Democrat Russ Carnahan and Republican Mike Parson.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

In what turned out to be his last big speech as a presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders called on his supporters to run for office. By then, one political newcomer from Derby, just outside of Wichita, had already filed to run for the Kansas Senate.

Gabriel Costilla had never thought about running for office. But, inspired by Sanders’ campaign, the Wichita high school teacher announced he would take on two-term Republican state Sen. Ty Masterson in the District 16 race.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

On this week's episode of the Statehouse Blend Missouri podcast, candidates for the 17th District Senate seat discuss the issues, a lawsuit one filed against the other and their campaigns as we approach the final weeks of the 2016 election season.

Guests:

Aaron Pellish / KCUR 89.3

It's been 40 years since Missouri voters have sent two Democrats to represent them in the U.S. Senate. If Jason Kander has his way, that will soon change.

A recent poll released by Monmouth University indicates Kander, the state's Secretary of State since 2013, has narrowed incumbent Roy Blunt's lead to within the margin of error.

Aaron Pellish / KCUR 89.3

Missouri hasn't had two Democratic U.S. Senators in 40 years, but Jason Kander is looking to change that. Today, we speak with the current Missouri Secretary of State about his run to defeat incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt in what has become a very competitive race.

Courtesy of Melissa Boohar

Updated, 10:20 a.m. Monday: The timeline has been updated to include additional documentation from the Secretary of State's Office regarding the language printed on DMV receipts in July.

Despite a court order clearing the way for them to vote this November, Kansans who registered at the Department of Motor Vehicles were still being told they would need to provide proof of citizenship up until an Oct. 18 deadline.

The Kansas Department of Transportation opened bids Wednesday on a highway project that is key to legislative races in southeast Kansas.

The project would expand U.S. Highway 69 from two lanes to four between Kansas City and Pittsburg — something residents of that part of southeast Kansas say is essential for safe movement of people and goods.

Nine years ago, Chris Koster was a state senator, a former Cass County prosecutor and a rising star within the Missouri Republican Party. Many speculated he would eventually run for governor.

And now he is running for governor, but as a Democrat.

Koster switched parties in 2007,  a stunning move that has set the course for his unusual political career.  He remains the highest-profile politician in Missouri, at least in modern times, to have made such a move

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

It’s mid-afternoon in a VFW Hall in Overland, Missouri, and Eric Greitens has a room full of veterans at full attention. Two Medal of Honor recipients, Michael Thornton and Thomas Norris, just introduced Greitens, and he’s about to provide the crowd with details about his newest mission: Becoming governor of Missouri.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The statewide team that's been collaborating to cover elections in Kansas this year is taking your questions

John Trewolla from Prairie Village sent us this one:

I sure am curious about whether and how the Koch brothers from Wichita are influencing the GOP (especially Brownback's) campaign. Not to put too fine a point on it, is Brownback in their pocket?

Abigail Beckman / KMUW

In many districts across Kansas, tight budgets have put teachers and school boards at odds.

School boards are hedging their bets about how generous the state funding will be next year. That very much depends on who wins seats in the Legislature.

In Wichita, the state's largest district, it took much longer than usual to reach agreement on a contract for this year. It wasn't until October that teachers had a tentative deal with the school board. 

CNN

This year’s presidential race may be one for the history books. But it’s not the contest Kansas voters wanted.

When Republicans caucused in March they overwhelmingly preferred Texas Sen. Ted Cruz over eventual nominee Donald Trump.

Kansas Democrats gave Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders one of his biggest primary victories – a 68 percent to 32 percent drubbing of Hillary Clinton.

Hannah Figgs-Hoard was among a group of Sanders supporters at a Topeka caucus site that literally overwhelmed Clinton’s smaller contingent.

bigstock.com

In a sign of just how close a few legislative races are in Kansas, someone has paid for so-called push polling in three contests.

A push poll uses unflattering questions about someone to "push" the voter in the direction of their opponent. It has no scientific value and is recognized as negative, if not downright dirty, campaigning.

It would be hard not to know there’s a presidential election going on. There’s lots of action at the state level too.

Already, with the results of the August primaries, there’s a lot of turnover in the Legislature. And there are at least 10 Kansas Senate races and 20 House races that are competitive in the general elections.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren rallied in Kansas City Friday for fellow Democrat Jason Kander, saying he is the candidate for the working middle-class while GOP incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt works only for “millionaires and billionaires.”

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