There are two Kevin Yoders, at least two that we know of.
One is the buttoned-down, coiffed, energetic, affable, dignified man whom we have lunched with for many, many years, long before he became a candidate for the U.S. Congress from our 3rd District.
We should add ambitious, because that has always been a key trait for as long as we can remember.
Yoder was student body president at the University of Kansas. He was elected state representative in 2002 and was re-elected three times, during which time he became chairman of the powerful state Appropriations Committee.
He was then elected to Congress in 2010, where he was appointed to the Appropriations Committee, quite unusual for a freshman.
This was a man on his way up, way up.
Even in this year when he had no opposition in the primary or general elections, he raised $1.3 million and is still fundraising. Yoder always was looking over his shoulder, taking nothing for granted.
Not complacent with his free pass, Yoder continued to conduct town hall meetings, give speeches at home, attend every event and act like he had a tough race on his hands.
Then, shockingly, there is the other Kevin Yoder.
For 10 seconds — or so he reported — he revealed another side of him that was well hidden and squandered much of that momentum.
As Wikipedia now reports on its website about Yoder: “In August 2012, it was reported he stripped naked and dove into the Sea of Galilee in front of other members of Congress, their families, and staffers…”
This was more than a speed bump in a man’s ambitious career.
Yoder’s free-pass days may be behind him. Certainly, Yoder will draw stiff Democratic opposition in his re-election race in two years. And undoubtedly his opponent will dredge up the Galilee incident as his most potent campaign tactic. It is less likely, though not inconceivable, that Yoder may draw another Republican to oppose him in the primary.
I would predict, with near certainty, that he would be re-elected.
His role in Congress, however, almost certainly will be stunted.
Had Yoder not revealed the other Yoder, and as he accumulated tenure in the House, he might have become chairman of his powerful committee. Can he ever become chairman now, having been the joke on the Top 10 list of David Letterman?
And even U.S. senator, should he have aspired to that lofty position, may be out of reach now.
This is not to say Kevin Yoder has no future. Over time, his constituents — though they may never totally forget — may at some point forgive.
I probably will vote for Yoder again, but I will be watching with a wary eye as to who he really is, and if that other side might reveal itself again.
| Special to The Star