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Nick’s Picks | Focus Turns to Upcoming Primaries Getting Out to Vote

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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5 minute read

The first votes in the August primary election will be cast this week.

This Saturday marks the start of in-person advanced voting in Kansas.

Topping the issues on the ballot is an amendment to the Kansas constitution giving state lawmakers the right to set abortion policy. 

It’s the nation’s first vote on abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

County election offices across the state are reporting large increases in voter registrations.

This Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in Kansas. Here’s how to do it.

No Debate

Topping the ballot in Missouri are party primaries that will decide who will fill the shoes of retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

But will we ever see all the frontrunners debate on the same stage before Election Day?

That’s now in serious doubt. 

With just three weeks before Election Day, there have been no debates where all the major candidates have agreed to participate.

A statewide televised debate scheduled for this Wednesday has just been canceled after Eric Greitens and Eric Schmitt declined to commit.

And it’s not just the Republicans. 

A statewide televised debate with the Democratic candidates has also been called off. It was scheduled for this week at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. 

According to the Missouri Independent, Anheuser-Busch heiress Trudy Busch Valentine failed to respond to multiple debate invitations.

You will be able to see one televised debate this week on Kansas City PBS, and that’s for Missouri’s 4th Congressional District.

It may not be getting as much attention as other big election races, but a big part of our audience living south and east of Kansas City will be picking a brand new member of Congress this year. Vicky Hartzler’s decision to run for the U.S. Senate has left her seat vacant. 

Former Kansas City news anchor Mark Alford, state senator Rick Brattin, former Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks and farmer Kalena Bruce are all competing for Hartzler’s seat.

They square off in an hour-long debate from the studios of our public TV sister station KMOS.

You can see the exchange Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on Kansas City PBS.

A Trump Endorsement?

Will former President Donald Trump make an endorsement this week in Missouri’s crowded U.S. Senate race?

Over the weekend, Trump began weighing up the local contest on his social media site Truth Social. 

One thing is certain, he won’t be endorsing U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler. 

Trump wrote that Hartzler had called him Friday asking for his endorsement. But he said he told her she didn’t have “what it takes to take on the Radical Left Democrats.”

A number of political observers believe Trump’s endorsement will be the most important factor in determining who wins the Republican primary.

Catching Up

Mayor Lucus at the White House

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is racking up the air miles again this week.

He’s headed to Washington D.C. today along with interim Police Chief Joe Mabin.

They’re scheduled to appear at a White House event marking passage of the recent gun violence prevention bill. 

President Biden signed the legislation into law at the end of June. 

It expands background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21 and encourages states to pass red flag laws that restrict individuals who are deemed a danger to themselves or others from purchasing firearms. 

It also closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” that has allowed individuals who assault a dating partner to legally acquire weapons.

New 9-8-8 Hotline Launches

If you need help in an emergency you call 9-1-1. Now those in mental health distress have their own quick number to call.

Starting this week, the National Suicide Prevention Line is switching over to a three-digit number they hope will be easier to remember and motivate more people to dial.  

It’s 9-8-8.

In Johnson County, local crisis centers are expecting such an uptick in calls they’re beefing up operators in advance of the change. 

Johnson County government leaders have just approved adding four crisis call specialists to help staff the 9-8-8 line, locally. 

The new number officially launches on Saturday.

Troost to Truth?

Remember the battle to change a street name in Kansas City after Martin Luther King Jr.? Well get ready for a new name change dispute. This time over Troost Avenue. 

Long considered the racial dividing line between white and Black Kansas City, there’s a new push underway to rename the street “Truth Avenue.” 

The man behind the effort is entrepreneur Chris Goode, the head of Ruby Jean’s Juicery. He was the one who pushed for removing the name J.C. Nichols from the Country Club Plaza.

He made that happen.  But is renaming Troost going to be a far more difficult project than stripping a name from a fountain?

Less Pain at the Pump

The price of gas continues to irritate many Americans, but it looks like the cost of filling up is on its way down for the fifth week in a row.

According to the tracking service GasBuddy, average gasoline prices in Kansas City have fallen 9.2 cents a gallon in the last week. And it is more than 30 cents lower than it was a month ago. 

Those with longer memories will correctly point out that it’s still $1.54 higher than a year ago.

According to GasBuddy, the cheapest place to fill up today in the metro is at the Sam’s Club and Costco stores in Independence, Missouri, where the posted price is $3.95 a gallon.

Kauffman CEO Departing

The help wanted sign is going up this week for a new leader at one of Kansas City’s largest foundations.

Wendy Guillies has announced her retirement as CEO at the Kauffman Foundation.

She will leave this fall.

Guillies has been in the foundation’s top spot for the past seven years.

Postponed Again…

If you are one of the thousands of people who have already bought tickets for Union Station’s latest big exhibit, there’s something you should know.

It’s been postponed for a second time.

After the Auschwitz exhibit closed in March, Union Station officials had been working on a massive new museum show on the Mayan culture. It was scheduled to open in May but was delayed until this week. 

Now Union Station officials say they have no choice but to delay the start date again. Apparently they’re still struggling to take delivery of the more than 300 ancient artifacts that were to be displayed in Kansas City. 

At last check they were being held up in Guatemala, caught in a bureaucratic web of administrative delays and permitting processes.

“MAYA: The Great Jaguar Rises” is now expected to open in early August.

Distractions & Diversions

A number of big names are heading to Kansas City this week.

The legendary Earth, Wind & Fire take the stage at Starlight Theatre on Tuesday night.

The Ameristar Casino hosts The Oak Ridge Boys on Friday and the classic rock band Kansas on Saturday.

And if you’re in Lawrence you may bump into Mary Chapin Carpenter. She’s the headliner at Liberty Hall on Sunday night.

If throwing down a bundle of cash for a concert ticket isn’t your thing, then there are a number of low cost distractions you might want to check out this week.

You can catch a performance at this year’s Fringe Festival.

After two years of virtual performances, Kansas City’s largest arts event is back in person with 289 live shows over 17 days and stretching across 13 different venues around the metro. You can snatch a seat at any performance for $10.  Find out what shows are happening and when at

Politicians Go After Each Other With Bats

Tens of thousands of Kansas Citians showed up to see celebrities like Paul Rudd and Eric Stonestreet play softball at the Big Slick event. 

Is there as much interest in seeing politicians doing the same thing?

This week, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas takes on Jackson City Executive Frank White in a battle of the bats. 

And guess who the umpire is? 

Former Mayor Sly James.

The game is this Sunday at 2 p.m. at the MLB Urban Youth Academy.  It’s a fundraiser for the Negro Leagues Baseball Musuem. 

You can watch for free but donations are encouraged.

Nick Haines, tracks the week’s most impactful local news stories on “Kansas City Week in Review,” Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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