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Independence, MO – Marine veteran Lucas Kunce was profiled by Bill Donahue in Washington Post Magazine. Below are highlights from the story. Read the full piece here.
Highlights from the article
- Nationwide, all of this GOP chest-beating appears to be working, as Democrats seem poised for a thrashing in the midterms. In Missouri, though, one Democrat volleyed back early, serving up his own brand of manhood. Last June, Lucas Kunce released a Senate campaign video that showed him locking and loading an AR-15. In the ad, Kunce bends over the gun’s sight. He squints. Will he shoot? No. Instead, Kunce smirks and says, “Forget it. … Stunts like that? Those are for those clowns on the other side. Like that mansion man Mark McCloskey.” There’s a bounce in his voice; Kunce, who’s 39, is enjoying this caper. And he speaks with a certain authority: The guy is shredded. His pecs bulge beneath his blue T-shirt, and his implicit message — that he’s a real man and McCloskey’s a dingleberry — gains steam when we learn that Kunce is a 13-year Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Can Kunce actually win? Can a political novice sell a revised, anti-Trump version of manhood in a once-centrist state that, in the past six presidential elections, has consistently voted Republican? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for one, is worried that the race “could end up being competitive,” as he told CNN in April.
- Sometimes the no-filter approach works its intended magic. Like when we travel to a school for apprentice ironworkers in North Kansas City…For most politicians, it’d be a hard room, but Kunce begins with, “We got any veterans in here?” Soon, he’s talking about how, when he was growing up in Jefferson City, in the ’90s, his family was so broke that his mom “begged the grocery store manager not to cash the check until the end of the month.” The manager complied. “People cared for each other,” Kunce says, “but today that grocery store is owned by some private equity a–hole, and if you don’t have money, you’ve got to go down to payday loans. That’s f—ed up, right?” The ironworkers nod. They snicker knowingly. They’re listening, and Kunce continues, now talking about how the United States has spent $6.4 trillion on wars since 2001. “The thing that p—es me off,” he says, “is how they spent almost nothing for the communities of the people who served in those wars. The first house I ever lived in was bulldozed. The house I joined the Marine Corps from is boarded up.” The problem, Kunce says, is “politicians who make decisions based on their stock portfolios. I want to take power back in this country. I want every damned one of you to have power.”
- “Eric Greitens, Mark McCloskey,” [Kunce] said, “all these fake populists on the right, these guys who oppose unions and higher wages, who don’t actually want to end corporate control in our country? They are the Russians, and you’ve got to fight them with firepower.”
- A father of four who voted for Trump in 2020, Luckey says of Kunce, “He seems like a pretty down-to-earth guy.”
- It would be impossible to call Lucas Kunce a wimp, or to tar him with the label ‘elitist’ — another, related slur beloved by Republicans.
- Afterward, Kathy Coe, an IT specialist, stands up to tell Kunce, “I love that you have fight in you. My huge frustration with the Democrats is that we’ve been too polite. Right now, we’re bringing a knife to a gunfight.”
- Ninety-eight percent of the [donations] have been for less than $200 — a stat that puts him in the same league as John Fetterman, widely regarded as a grass-roots folk icon.
- Eventually, I’ll speak to Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a history and gender studies professor at Calvin University in Michigan, and learn that she too appreciates Kunce’s force. “He’s exactly the sort of candidate the Democrats should be running right now…Who better to reveal how much of the right wing’s masculinity is performative?”
- Kunce doesn’t deny that opposing Greitens would be tough, but he’d relish the challenge. “If it’s me against Greitens, it’s going to be bloody,” Kunce says. “It’s going to be a very bloody, nasty fight.”