fficially, it’s not yet spring of 2007, but already the 2008 election season is heating up in Platte County.
Kathy Dusenbery, mayor of Parkville the last three years, told The Landmark on Tuesday that she will challenge incumbent first district Platte County Commissioner Tom Pryor next year.
Both are Republicans. Assuming both file for the office as expected, Dusenbery and Pryor will square off in a primary in August of ’08.
“As a true Republican, I’m not really fond of the idea of challenging a fellow Republican. But at the same time, I don’t know if Tom’s the right person against a Democratic challenger,” Dusenbery said Tuesday, saying she doesn’t think Pryor would win in a race against an opponent from the Democratic side of the fence.
“Because of the situation of his previous election, a lot of alienation was caused. It really divided the Republican party,” Dusenbery said.
In 2004, Pryor stunned longtime incumbent Michael Short in a Republican primary. Many observers believe Short coasted through the campaign and was caught off guard at the end when Pryor put together a strong final push that included endorsement telephone calls to voters from fellow officeholders at the time, including then-auditor Sandra Thomas and sheriff Richard Anderson.
Pryor’s defeat of Short, coupled with Jim Plunkett’s victory over incumbent Steve Wegner in the second district commissioner race that same summer, magnified a philosophical split in the Platte County Republican party, with Pryor and Plunkett coming from a group branding itself “conservatives” while Wegner and Short preferred to refer to themselves as “moderates.” Supporters of Short often said the other faction was “ultra conservative.”
Contacted by phone Tuesday evening, Pryor said he hadn’t heard of Dusenbery’s intention but is not caught off guard by the development.
“I pretty much figured I’d have a primary opponent. It doesn’t surprise me.”
Asked to comment on Dusenbery’s belief that he would not be successful against a Democratic opponent, Pryor replied:
“The only reason I wouldn’t be able to beat a Democrat is if we have Republican defectors.”
In 2004, Pryor pledged a platform of fiscal conservatism. He says he has delivered.
“I’ve held true to my fiscal policies of lower taxes and low spending. And that’s what I plan on continuing to do,” he stated.
Dusenbery has been making phone calls to several Republican officeholders in Platte County.
“I’m letting them know that I am very interested in running and asking them to keep an open mind during the primary season,” she said when contacted by The Landmark on Tuesday. She said she really wanted to speak with Pryor before the news broke.
“There is some protocol that needs to be followed here and I want to let him know,” she said late Tuesday, asking when The Landmark story would go to press. “I guess I better get on the phone to Tom.”
Dusenbery indicated trash talking won’t be part of her campaign.
“As Ronald Reagan believed, Republicans should not trash other Republicans during a primary. I have no intentions of going after Tom if he’s going to run,” she said.
She said she and Pryor have worked together on issues important to the Parkville area, such as the widening of Hwy. 45, a project on which she said that she and Pryor worked hand-in-hand.
“It’s nothing personal against Tom that I’m running,” Dusenbery said.
Dusenbery is not new to the political scene. Prior to serving as mayor the past three years, Dusenbery served as a Parkville alderman for seven years. She heads the Platte County Mayor’s Council.
“Consensus building seems to be my strong point. I would like to bring consensus to the county level.
“Not that I’m the end-all, save-all. I’m not an ego. All I’m trying to do is take what I’ve learned from Parkville and bring that to the county level,” Dusenbery told The Landmark.
Asked what she could bring to the county position, Dusenbery said “my understanding and working knowledge of municipalities.”
When pressed for goals she would pursue if elected commissioner, Dusenbery declined to be specific.
“There are so many things and issues I’m working on at city hall that I really need to stay focused on the city of Parkville at this time. I will deal with the commissioner’s race at (a later) time,” she said.