Best Politician

Charlie Wheeler

Charlie Wheeler's campaign literature featured a silhouette of himself -- a slightly stooped senior citizen wearing his trademark cap, spectacles and bow tie. His slogan ("Integrity. Intelligence. Experience. Common sense for Missouri.") was straightforward and, well, commonsensical. With his hawkish blue eyes and bushy eyebrows, he seemed like someone who would box the ears of an unethical colleague if he ever made it to the Missouri Senate in his bid for the 10th District seat. But what were the chances of that? It seemed no one except the smitten campaign volunteers known as "Charlie's angels" thought he'd make a decent showing in the August Democratic primary. Local political junkies smiled patronizingly when Wheeler's name was mentioned, then explained that he didn't have a chance in hell of beating slickster State Representative Henry Rizzo, a smooth-talking, tanned car salesman with seventeen years in the legislature and a list of endorsements long enough to clog a fax machine. (Most of Rizzo's supporters brushed off the little fact that he spent a few months in federal prison a decade ago.) Even though Wheeler was a beloved figure in his heyday as a two-term Kansas City mayor in the '70s, he hadn't held office in more than twenty years (the age of many Westport residents he was trying to win over). He had zero endorsements (even Brookside businesswoman Suellen Dice, a political newcomer, had one), and he had even been spurned by his old pals in the influential Committee for County Progress. Some people were even starting to feel sorry for old Charlie. That is, before he kicked Rizzo's butt. In the primary, Wheeler won 48 percent to Rizzo's 41 percent and Dice's 11 percent, proving once and for all that residents in the heart of Kansas City were tired of listening to bullshit from politicians. Since there's no Republican challenger, Wheeler is on his way to Jeff City.

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