KC Tenants Power, the new political sibling organization of KC Tenants, made their way into the political endorsement playing field in a well thought out and empowering way, to huge success.
Instead of endorsing candidates privately and providing little information on why they selected the candidates they selected, the group’s inaugural endorsement process was very open and transparent.
In November and December 2022, KC Tenants Power held six public listening sessions throughout the city, on themes like public safety, transit, economic justice, and climate. From those sessions they compiled the feedback as well as survey responses and focus group int the development of their People’s Platform
In January, they gathered 150 tenants and allies to finalize the People’s Platform and a statement of the collective values and vision of KC Tenants Power. Using that platform, they sent out questionnaires to the candidates and they developed a scorecard to assess the candidates on their background and their positions on a range of issues in the People’s Platform.
On February 28 they hosted a candidates forum that was attended by more that 270 people. Fifteen candidates participated in the forum.
From the information gathered during this process they made their endorsements on two levels: Tenant Champions and Tenant Allies
Instead of endorsing in every race, where they didn’t see a clear candidate, they didn’t endorse. With more time and information, they may endorse in more races ahead of June’s general election.
More than just putting their name behind these candidates, KC Tenants Power hit the streets, the phones and the internet. Leading up to the primary, members knocked over 12,368 doors, called 8,866 voters by phone, sent over 8,000 text messages, distributed 48,375 pieces of mail, and dispensed its voter guide digitally to at least 10,541 viewers.
In the six races they endorsed in, all of their candidates advanced to the general election.
Over the next three months, KC Tenants Power will continue its field and communications efforts, aiming to knock over 30,000 doors before the general election.
Faceoff Against Freedom
Freedom Inc. again was very successful with their endorsements. They endorsed in 11 races, and all of their candidates advanced to the general election. However, in one race Freedom Inc.s endorsed candidate came in behind the KC Tenants candidate and in one race, The Freedom Inc. candidate won, but not by much.
In two of the races, both groups endorsed the same candidates: Melissa Robinson, 3rd in- district and Andrea Bough, 6th at-large
In 2nd-At-large, KC Tenants Power endorsed Jenay Manley and Freedom Inc. endorsed Lindsay French. In a three way race, with about 40,000 votes cast, French beat out Manley by 5,000 votes. That’s less than the 7,500 votes that candidate Mickey Younghanrz could get Manley with his endorsement.
In the 4th-in district KC Tenants Power endorsed incumbent Eric Bunch who scored more points than Freedom, Inc. endorsed Henry Rizzo. This race had a low voter turnout of just 6,500, so it doesn’t mean much when the incumbent scored twice as many votes as his competitor.
In the 6th in-district race, KC Tenants Power endorsed Johnathan Duncan, who came in second behind Freedom Inc endorsed Dan Tarwater. This was a crowded field with five candidates and approximately 11,000 votes were cast . Tarwater had 5,297 votes, to Dunca’s 2700, but there were 3,500 other votes cast that could impact the general election.
The most surprising race result was in the 5th at-large. KC Tenants Power endorsed Michael Kelley, came up just 800 votes short of Freedom Inc. endorsed Darrell Curls. This was a three-way race with Curls getting 14,898 votes to 14,034 for Kelley. The third contestant in the race, former Jackson County Legislator Theresa Cass Galvin, got 12,846 votes.
In the two months leading up to the June 6 general election, you can expect the races and the rhetoric to heat up.
“KC Tenants Power has demonstrated a new type of political muscle is possible in Kansas City and in the nation. In the next three months, we’re going to double down on our efforts and show how poor and working-class people aren’t going anywhere,” said Brandon Henderson, organizer with KC Tenants Power. “People in Kansas City are tired of politics as usual.”