The populist, millennial veteran who wants to turn Missouri blue
In this, he may look remarkably like the more famous Missouri populist who won a Senate seat with a similar message: Republican Josh Hawley. Kunce doesn’t like the comparison – he sees Hawley as a “false populist,” pointing out the education of the senator (banker’s son, private school graduate) and votes to confirm the “corporate judges” (he named Neil Gorsuch, although Hawley was not in the Senate when Gorsuch was confirmed). Don’t even launch Kunce on Hawley’s recent comments denouncing video games and the state of American masculinity (Marines play video gamesKunce points out). But in the rhetoric, if not in the backstory, it can be difficult to tell the two apart. While Kunce does not share Hawley’s concerns about corporate âawakeningâ, the two blame multinationals, big tech, China, and the elites for what plagues America in general and Missouri in particular. Also, both made it to Yale – although Kunce points out that he did so with financial assistance. (Hawley’s office declined to comment for this story.)
Even though Republican pollsters recently found Kunce the loser, 40% to 47%, against current GOP frontrunner former Gov. Eric Greitens, Kunce finds the margin quite encouraging so early in the race, when many Missourians fail. not even know who he is. ; his main rival in the Democratic primary, veteran former state senator Scott Sifton, loses to Greitens in the poll by a similar amount and faces the same name recognition challenges, but he is far behind Kunce in collecting of funds. Many people are familiar with Greitens, who resigned to avoid impeachment in a 2018 scandal involving an allegedly forced sexual encounter with his barber and alleged campaign finance shenanigans; he denies any wrongdoing and made an agreement with the prosecutor to drop the criminal charges at the time. Still, the prospect of a Greitens primary nomination worries National Republicans and excites National Democrats. Incredibly for a Trump national seat currently held by a Republican, retired Senator Roy Blunt, and in a midterm year in which Democrats are expected to do wrong, CNN has put the Missouri race on. its list of the top 10 seats most likely to tip over in 2022, though the Cook Political Report considers the seat firmly Republican, as do Missouri pollsters.
Despite the slim odds, Kunce’s run is a test for Democrats who still struggle to absorb the lessons of Trump’s call and reverse their losses among working-class and campaign voters, especially in the heart of the country. It is also an experience of reclaiming political populism for Democrats after the GOP near-takeover, and defining it without the anti-immigrant nationalism of Donald Trump or the religious conservatism and anti-awakening of Josh Hawley. . But Kunce can be just as critical of National Democrats as he is of Republicans, whom he describes as all part of the same corrupt system ruled by donors and Wall Street lobbyists. He believes the concerns of the working class, white or black or whatever, are essentially the same, and that the same anti-business message can win over Trump voters on Harley in southern Missouri and black retirees in southern Missouri. St. Louis. âThe working class is the working class,â he said. âThe issues are a lack of transversal power for ordinary people and a system that divides us and pits us against each other. “
Missouri is a particularly telling location for this experience, as a long-standing former swing state inclined to elect moderates left and right, where Republicans now control all branches of state government and hold eight of the 10 seats of the Congress delegation. âA victory here in Missouri,â says Kunce – where plains populism once had a foothold, where voters have a history of independent-mindedness and âshow meâ the practicality – âliterally changes everything. It shows that we can be the workers’ party. The state’s recent political history tells a tale of Democrats alienating former supporters through a combination of ideological mismatch and popular neglect – and Kunce’s political fate will show whether an anti-elite economic message will be enough to win them back.
For a whole century from 1904, Missouri was a famous political baron who picked the winner of all but one presidential election, when his constituents chose Democrat Adlai Stevenson over Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. “A mirror to the nation,” the Chicago Tribune called it in 2004, at the end of that period: “a part of Dixie, part of industrial Detroit, a little bit of Great Plains conservatism and a hint of ‘pull-the-government-from-my-back-and- cut Â»my-taxes West. Or like Slate said it that year: “This is the most swinging swingers,” where any discussion of politics probably contained “the words ‘microcosm’ or ‘representativeness'”.