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Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt stirred up controversy this week when he wrote on Twitter that he wanted to see a concert tour of Ye (the artist formerly known as Kanye West) and Kid Rock.

Ye had just gone on an antisemitic rant on Twitter days before and while Schmitt said he hadn’t seen the comments, his campaign quickly deleted the tweet after it spurred an immediate backlash.

I am not sure if it came from Schmitt or a staff member who has access to his Twitter account. The campaign did not specifically say.

I am, however, certain that he had another option than weighing in on a controversy about an aging rapper — don’t tweet.

Instead, the campaign made an unnecessary proclamation that offended a lot of people and Schmitt followed up with a statement that said he did not condone everything Ye or Kid Rock said, but supported Ye “calling out left wing hypocrisy.” He did not condemn antisemitism in the statement.

So why do they do this? Why not play it completely safe on social media, stick to bland pronouncements and never cause any waves?

We’re in an era of political authenticity. Social media allows for some candidates to build a kind of connection with the audience that allows them to reach new people, raise more money and potentially increase their political aspirations.

Twitter is an unusually political space. It’s got a lot of reporters, academics and politicians. A lot of them use it to find news. It can often shape political conversations and messaging around legislation or campaigns.

In essence, a compelling social media presence can help you go from one of the masses to a household name.

Being a certain kind of internet provocateur can help some politicians accelerate the process. If you anger the right people, you get asked to be on cable news. If you appear on cable news you increase your visibility and can get more donations. More campaign money can help you build your political profile.

That’s not easy. Each social media platform has its own language and speaking that language authentically can be a challenge. What reads as corny to some may be cool to others. You’re creating an image, a brand, which you then try to grow and use to gain political power.

Schmitt had been using the platform to try and create a kind of conservative Dad vibe. When he’s not tweeting about politics, it seems to be about things like the St. Louis Cardinals (who lost in the playoffs last weekend to my editor’s beloved Philadelphia Phillies) or concerts.

It appears Schmitt was attempting some engagement bait.

Mentioning Ye and Kid Rock would fit into that image and resonate with his base (both men’s music probably appeals to men older than 35 with children in the suburbs or beyond, Ye on the younger end of that spectrum, Kid Rock on the older), while angering people on the left.

Ye had just been on Tucker Carlson because his new clothing line had “White Lives Matter Shirts,” making him relevant to the conservative base. It may have seemed that by defending Ye, Schmitt would be able to grab attention and potentially raise money. Either Schmitt was a news cycle behind, like his campaign said, or he didn’t find Ye’s antisemitism despicable.

Either way, because of a tweet, he provoked condemnations from Missouri Jewish leaders and others who say the incident should disqualify him from office.

More from Missouri

Throughout his campaign for U.S. Senate, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has been criticized for a vote he took as member of the state Senate to allow foreign companies to own farmland in the state. Now lawmakers are thinking about passing legislation to require more oversight of the foreign owners of Missouri farmland.

Here are headlines from across the state:

And across Kansas

Kansas is an outlier when it comes to the legalization of marijuana. It’s one of just three states in the country that has not legalized marijuana in any form. But as President Joe Biden moves to decriminalize the drug and as Missouri votes next month on whether to allow recreational use, will the state loosen up their restrictions?

The latest from Kansas City

In Kansas City …

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Odds and ends

A message from beyond the grave

In the past year, I went to a memorial service for former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole at the World War II monument. I went to the ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, where he lay in state. I went to the funeral at the Washington National Cathedral, where everyone walked out on Lee Greenwood singing “God Bless the U.S.A.” I went to his actual burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

That means I am quite certain the the iconic Kansas senator is resting in peace on a grassy hill that overlooks the U.S. Capitol.

Still, there seems to be an attempt at foot for Dole to wield his influence on Kansas politics one more time. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s campaign highlighted a letter, written by Dole’s daughter Robin, remarking that one of the last political actions taken by the former Senator was an endorsement of Schmidt’s campaign.

“It’s a little bit emotional for me and those close to my father,” Dole wrote. “After 70 years of public service, it’s the last cycle my father got to play a small part in. I don’t take that lightly, and I know the people of Kansas won’t either. He loved you, and was always grateful for all you gave him over so many years.”

The letter also contained a knock at some of the Republicans who have been endorsing Gov. Laura Kelly, like former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, Dole’s Senate colleague, when she said “just about every strong Kansas leader” followed suit in endorsing Schmidt.

Davids fundraising total

Today marks the deadline for candidates to file their financial reports for the months of July, August and September.

Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids put out a press release Thursday saying she raised more than $2.1 million in those months, making her one of six “frontline” House Democrats who raised more than $2 million in the quarter.

The announcement was a bit of a contest with House Republicans, who announced that they had 11 Republican challengers who raised more than $1 million for the 3rd Quarter. Adkins was not on the list.

Neither Adkins nor Davids has submitted their report yet, so we don’t know the exact totals and haven’t been able to look at who’s putting money into their campaigns. And while Adkins may have raised less than $1 million, based on the list released by the Republicans, she also has a political action committee supporting her campaign that reported raising $95,150.

The group started buying up ads in October and it’s pretty common for big donors to time their donations after a filing deadline to hide their contributions for as long as possible (we saw that in the Missouri Republican Primary for U.S. Senate, where a group associated with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dumped millions into defeating Greitens, but it wasn’t reported until after the election).

The fun isn’t over yet. There will be one more filing for the early days of October, that’ll be due at the end of the month.

Middle of the road

Laura Kelly really wants voters to know she’s a moderate. So much so that she keeps standing in the middle of the road.

In her latest digital ad, which she titled “The Road Ahead,” Kelly stands in the middle of a tree-lined, unpaved road while she talks about her economic policy agenda.

Earlier in the campaign, she put out a television ad where she was repeatedly shown sitting in between two people, in the middle seat. In another, she talked about being “middle of the road” while standing in an actual two-lane road.

Kansas is a Republican state. It’s only voted for a Democratic president six times in its history, the most recent coming in 1964. Because of the natural Republican tilt, Kelly is trying to emphasize her moderate credentials, hoping that she may be able to win over Republicans who feel that their party has become too conservative and independent candidates who are looking for a more moderate candidate.

Hence the middle of the road bit. I just hope they’re being safe while filming these ads and look both ways before walking into the street.

Happy Friday

Read this article about the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona. Have a Negroni. Sbagliato. With Prosecco in it. (Yes, that’s redundant. It’s a meme.) Angela Lansbury died this week. Here’s her singing one of my favorites from Sweeney Todd.

Enjoy your weekend.

Daniel Desrochers is the Star’s Washington, D.C. Correspondent
Daniel Desrochers is the Star’s Washington, D.C. Correspondent

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