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Candidates Run Low Key Race in Missouri Fifth

By Hayley Salvo

Kansas City, MO – He's easy to spot. In his freshly pressed suit and smart green tie, Jacob Turk doesn't look like the other men gathered around the small plastic McDonald's table. Turk looks like a man running for congress, but he's as new to the game as his opponent is seasoned.

And one of the amazing parts of this run, when I walked up they said, well who are you? And I said, well I'm Jacob Turk. And they go, WHO ARE YOU? And I said well I'm running for congress against Emanuel Cleaver and there was laughter around the table and then they said, sit down.

Every Friday morning, for the past several months, Turk has joined members of the black community at a McDonalds in Kansas City's east side to talk about issues facing the Fifth District. It's part of Turk's traditional grassroots campaign that champions the power of word of mouth, public appearances and a strategy of anti-incumbency.

I'm running my own campaign and mine is grassroots. As you may have seen in the Kansas City Star, I haven't raised as much money as my opponent. He gets a lot of PAC and special interest money, which I don't get. All my money is from the folks. I run a total grassroots effort, people knocking on doors, making phone calls for me, people who believe in this candidacy because I'm different.

Turk's opponent, former Kansas City mayor turned Congressman, Emanuel Cleaver, says he's put together a sizeable campaign war chest. But unlike the election two years ago, when he faced millionaire Jeanne Patterson, Cleaver isn't spending the big bucks this time around and he says he's noticed a difference.

The strange thing is that some of my closest friends and parishioners did not know that I was running for re-election.

And with the low key nature of the race comes the power to campaign differently on both sides. Turk is sticking to key Republican issues from immigration reform to the protection of traditional marriage. Cleaver on the other hand says for him one issue trumps all others.

Well my top three issues are number the war, and then number two is the war and number three is the war.

Pollsters are predicting a landslide victory for Cleaver on November 7th, but Cleaver isn't so sure himself.

37 % or higher will vote Republican no matter who it is. It could be a rock, it could be green grass, it doesn't matter.

But it does matter to Turk, who's counting on the Republican votes to make the race for the Fifth District closer than anyone expects.

Hayley Salvo, KCUR News.

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