Best Local Politician with Populist Appeal

Phill Kline, Republican candidate for Congress, 3rd District, Kansas

There's something about Phill, and it has nothing to do with using the wrong kind of hair gel. Kline has charisma. Up close, the guy knows the rub. He'll remember your face if not your name, lay a compliment here and there without overdoing it, and talk about what he believes in while giving the impression that he doesn't bend his principles according to push polls. It doesn't hurt that he's a young-looking 40 and his smile never seems to be painted on. And Kline makes it difficult for non-Republicans to have knee-jerk rejections to what he says, particularly when he acknowledges that he has problems granting tax breaks for corporations, wants to protect privacy, and seeks more funding for education -- pure populist stands that can have liberals momentarily overlooking his social conservatism and idyllic embrace of small government. "Likable" doesn't say it all about Kline, but he's a long way from the meanness of Pat Buchanan, and he lacks Ross Perot's whiny voice.

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