Way back when Sly’s candidacy was just a rumor, I had a conversation with the Greatest Political Mind in Kansas City (GPMKC) in which I opined that, if he ran, Sly would probably win the race. The GPMKC dampened my enthusiasm, though, pointing out that nobody really knew if Sly was willing and able to do the hard work of campaigning – calling friends for money, listening to constituents rant about non-city issues, and keeping focus on winning the race.
The Greatest Political Mind in Kansas City was right. At that time, Sly was unproven. All of Sly’s charisma, all his people skills, all his great ideas, all his intellectual ability – none of that would have mattered one whit if Sly did not exercise the dedication and humility necessary to become a successful politician.
Sly James has proven himself. He has run the long race.
He has shown up at dozens of forums, smiled and greeted people, called on friends and strangers to ask for money to fund his campaign, hired great people to run his campaign, and, through it all, maintained a cheerful, positive campaign that speaks to the best of Kansas City. Both candidates demonstrated this weekend that they would not be tempted by the cheap tactics of negative campaigning, and my respect for both of them grew.
But Sly has run the better campaign. With no elective experience, he has run a positive and effective campaign. He has raised more money than Mike Burke, even though Mike is the one with the Rolodex full of wealthy developers and entrenched business interests. Sly has also raised money from more people – more individuals have been moved by their contact with Sly James to pull out their checkbooks and invest in Kansas City’s future. He even inspired my politically-cautious wife to write a check for him – I cannot remember the last candidate she has done that for.
Mike Burke, on the other hand, has cobbled a campaign together through donations from old money like Jim Nutter and the TIF trough. He was forced to lend himself 6 figures to get through the primary. While the statistics aren’t readily available, I doubt he has more than a handful of non-family first-time donors, while Sly James has rallied support from a host of fresh faces and newly-engaged constituents.
Sly represents a fresh approach, while Mike Burke seems happy that Charlie Wheeler and “Credit Card” Kay Barnes think he’s the right guy to return us to the same old ways of doing business at City Hall. Sly James has reached out well past the old mayors and same old political class to inspire a new group of Kansas Citians.
Sly James has shown that he can literally rally fresh investment in Kansas City, while his opponent has relied on the same old crowd that has always run City Hall.
It’s time for Sly James to bring his excitement and enthusiasm to Kansas City.