In 2020 folks who watch politics like a sport saw a new player emerge when Lucas Kunce dropped his first ad for the 2022 Senate cycle. Kunce presented well out of the gate, and his ability to land on national media with a populist positioning (and a great head of hair) helped garner momentum before the field really appeared.
For some there was never another option. Kunce was their choice for almost two years. Yet on August 3, 2022, Trudy Busch Valentine came away with the Missouri Democratic nomination for Senate.
Folks who have followed The Heartland POD and my own writing know that I had questions about Kunce. In the end, I chose to back Spencer Toder in that primary. I based my decision on several factors, one being that I simply had sincere questions about Kunce and his actual commitment to my state. 2022 was also a different kind of cycle with an open seat, with Sen. Blunt retiring, while this is a direct challenge to a sitting Senator.
I’m a lifelong Missourian. I’ve spent many hours on Missouri waterways, camped in its parks, and lived in the east, central, and west side of the State. I went to public school, spent a handful of semesters at community college, and then graduated from Central Missouri, one of our many excellent State public universities before going to Mizzou for my law degree.
I am, as the song calls for, a “true son” of Missouri.
Let’s Talk About Josh.
While I was in law school, we heard about this new couple coming to town. Josh and Erin Hawley. They were going to be teaching at the law school but it was clear, very quickly, that they were not there to become tenured Mizzou law professors. It was increasingly an open secret that Josh was planning on running for office, and that his ambition was (eventually) the Presidency.
I’ve been in a room with Joshua Hawley. I’ve heard him spout his views on the Constitution. I’ve watched him up close.
So let me say this plainly: He’s awful.
My Grandpa was always known as having this sort of sixth sense about people. I like to think it’s something I have inherited from him. I’m not always right, but ask those close to me, I can often call it pretty easily, and that’s especially true when it comes to Missouri politics and its political leaders.
With Hawley, it takes about 5 minutes to know, he aint it.
Hawley has used Missouri, Missouri voters, and has lied at every turn to advance his personal ambition without regard for us. He doesn’t care about you or me.
He only cares about becoming President of the United States. That’s it.
So, Why Lucas Kunce Now?
On August 4, 2022 I was watching and waiting to see what Kunce would do. Perhaps the biggest question surrounding his candidacy, for me (and many others) was his commitment to Missouri. Was he another Hawley, merely returning to Missouri (and campaigning exclusively on weekends while he was in town from his Virginia residence) as a stepping stone to something more? Or, was Kunce committed to helping rebuild Missouri and put his own ambition to the side to do so?
Lucas Kunce answered that question loud and clear for over three months leading up to the November, 2022 elections by hitting the pavement, knocking doors for other Missouri candidates, and doing the kind of work that you only do if you genuinely believe in the cause and movement of the time.
This is a guy who can get a spot on national television as easily as most of us could order a pizza. Yet, he was handing out literature and knocking doors for State House races in Missouri. If you’ve ever done this you know it isn’t glamorous, not in the slightest. It’s exhausting work that can be frustrating, even on a good day. You won’t find national press while walking the neighborhoods of Springfield.
But, there he was.
The 2022 Senate primary was a huge field. There were great people running with great messages. Carla Wright, Jewel Kelley, Spencer Toder and others who, in my opinion, helped awaken Missouri democrats in a critical way.
But this time is different.
It’s different because Hawley is different. He represents something that people, democrats and republicans alike, despise. He is a coward of the highest degree. His phony “manly” routine is about as believable as his story about living in Missouri.
Hawley, to me, represents the worst of both politics and power.
For that reason, I personally am all-in on Lucas Kunce for 2024. I now know who he is. I’ve seen him walk the walk that backs up the talk and I know that he’s far more than anything Hawley will ever be.
I hope, for the sake of Missourians, that I am not alone in that opinion.
Adam Sommer is an attorney and host of the Missouri based podcast “The Heartland POD”