By Jennifer Bukowsky
On Wednesday, I read a troubling headline in the Kansas City Star – “Worried Republicans spending big to hold KC-area seat.” In it, Jason Hancock reported that there was a “flood of money coming in” to help Republican candidate Mike Cierpiot win the race in Missouri’s 8th State Senate District (“SD8”).
This should have been a safe race for the Republicans. But, in a surprise move, the Democrats assisted a recurring (and always unsuccessful) Republican candidate to win a lawsuit to get listed on the ballot as an Independent. Republicans are concerned that this “Independent” may split the Republican vote and hand the race to a Democrat named Hillary.
This was a smart move by the Democrats. Regardless of whether Hillary Shields wins or even if she just comes close to winning, it’ll provide Democrats with a much-needed talking-point to boost the morale of their beleaguered base. It also creates division among Republicans and it drains them of their time and money.
I do not think it is wise for Republicans to be flooding money into the SD8 race. Why? The outcome of the SD8 election isn’t all that important. The Missouri Senate will have a large Republican majority regardless of the election’s outcome (either 24-10 or 25-9, R-D). Thus, the outcome of the race will have little to no impact on the Republicans’ ability to push through their agenda through the Missouri Senate. And, even if the Democrats manage pull off an upset in this special election, they won’t be able to hold the seat at reelection, which is merely 12 months away. Flooding money into this special SD8 race is exactly what Sen. Claire McCaskill wants us to do.
In contrast, Missouri’s US Senate race is right around the corner, and the outcome of that race may have a significant impact on our entire nation for the next six years. For example, the Obamacare repeal lost by one vote earlier this year. If Republicans in Missouri hadn’t been out-maneuvered by diabolical Democrat underdog Claire McCaskill in 2012, the U.S. Senate may have had enough votes to have repealed Obamacare earlier this year.
Essentially, it isn’t smart for Republicans to spend big on the special SD8 race because:
1) there’s little to no potential for ROI,
2) every dollar spent on SD8 weakens the Republicans’ ability to fire Claire in 2018, and
3) we should be diverting available dollars into firing Claire as that’s where we have a real opportunity to get a return on our political investment that could benefit current & future generations of Americans.
The real war isn’t SD8, it’s the 2018 U.S. Senate Race. And it seems like Republicans are already being out-maneuvered in that war. Badly.
Senator McCaskill has a plan to win, you can count on that. Do we have a Republican strategist who can play at her level and lead Republicans to victory in 2018? We’re going to need one.
Jennifer Bukowsky is an award-winning Constitutional and criminal defense attorney in Columbia, Missouri. Follow her on Twitter @esqonfire.