I’m still coming to grips with the astounding upset in the Kansas 2nd. Since it looks like the Virginia Senate race is almost over, I have to get this in fast.
U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, R‑Kan., didn’t know what hit him.
All over the second district she was every where. She was going places where there were six people and one pot of coffee. And then you sit down and talk to them and they remember that. It was like she was running for county commission across the whole 17, 18 counties of the Second District.
I was at one of those meetings. She came to talk with the KU Young Democrats. About 10 students showed up, we had some pizza, she told us a little about herself, and then went around the room listening to what each person was most worried about. She listened carefully, made some suggestions, asked some probing questions, and then turned to the next person. Sometimes the conversation spread around the room, other times it was between her and the voter.
She talks about meeting people who were very conservative. After letting them rant about all the reasons they wouldn’t vote for her, she’d explain that she didn’t expect them to vote for her if they felt that way, but she’d still like to talk to them for a while. That got people’s attention.
And well it should. Politics has largely shifted to a media battle. Like most observers, I was following the race based on Google News, candidate announcements via email and websites, and of course campaign finance filings. Those traditional metrics don’t give you much chance to quantify hands shaken and diners visited. As a Congresswoman, it won’t be easy to publicize lists of people helped and problems solved.
But that’s what democracy is supposed to be. It isn’t supposed to be a battle of dueling newspaper articles and TV hit pieces. A Congressperson is supposed to represent a district, whether they voted for her or not. Jim Ryun never quite figured that out, and it finally came back to punish him.