Kansas City, Kan. -- A Kansas congressman's controversial skinny dipping escapade brings to light a question: why is there no Democrat running against Republican Kevin Yoder for his third district U.S. House seat?
Congressman Yoder's nude swim in the Sea of Galilee in Israel has been overshadowed by his fellow Congressman Todd Akin's comment about rape and abortion. But you aren't hearing a lot about Yoder's misstep from his democratic opponent because he doesn't have one.
One national news article in the Daily Kos, a political web site, says that Kansas Democrats should be embarrassed they couldn't put anyone's name on the ballot against Yoder because that means no one was in a position to try to take advantage of the skinny dipping incident. But the Kansas Democratic Party says it wasn't for lack of trying.
State Senator David Haley (D-Kansas City, KS) agrees Democrats should be embarrassed they have no one running against Yoder.
"That's a concern, that's a failure on the part of the Kansas Democratic Party to not field a qualified candidate," he says.
But State Senator Chris Steineger (R-Kansas City, KS) says that's because the democratic party pushes people out of the party. He should know. Steineger was elected four times as a democrat and switched parties two years ago. He says the party is pushing people out if they aren't willing to toe the party line.
"I think both parties need to be more open-minded about the middle ground and not everyone will agree on every issue," he says.
The head of the Kansas Democratic Party Joan Wagnon says she heavily recruited and almost had someone on the ticket. But because of re-districting, and confusion over where the new lines would fall, Wagnon says she just couldn't get someone to file in time to face off against Yoder.
Across the state line, U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Kansas City) says those new district lines in Kansas will make it very difficult for any democrat to run for now on, but that doesn't make Yoder safe.
"What Yoder will have to look over his shoulder at is a person to the right of him, far to the right," Cleaver says, "and that's the danger that Yoder finds himself in today, not from Democrats."
Democrats say hindsight is 20-20 and who knows, a Democrat might have fared well this year. Haley hopes next time around they won't have to guess.
"I hope we're not having this discussion in two years, saying Kevin Yoder continues to be more puppet for the right than the mainstream third congressional district," he says, "but where is the candidate?"
Wagnon says Democrats will be more than ready next time around. She says they may even have more than one democrat running. As for this year, there has been talk of a write-in campaign but she says that's tough to take that on and win.
Yoder does have a libertarian candidate running against him.