Will money -- or heart -- count most with voters this August?

COLUMBIA, 7/28/12 (Op Ed) -- Don't get me wrong.
Though I've been fussing about CoMo-area statehouse candidate John Wright since he got what I thought was an unfair advantage with a no-bid contract to run Grant Elementary's new Montessori (his dad does the school district's defined benefits programs, so big connection there), my impression is that he's a warm, personable guy.
He's handsome, well-spoken, and brings a fresh, obviously well-connected perspective back to his hometown. If he borrowed those quotes out of context for a political blurb, I wouldn't be too shook up.

But there's something about the rest of the stuff I don't like. $74,000 pouring into his campaign to date, a lot of it from out-state money managers. An $80 million dollar hedge fund of his own. Economic advantages that -- dare I say -- my friends in the Democratic Party ardently criticize (Mitt Romney, anyone?)
I saw John and his August primary Democratic opponent, Nancy Copenhaver, at a Muleskinner's lunch this month. John was the fresh face; Nancy the experienced hand. I liked Nancy more. She came across as a "woman of the people," a populist candidate with a no-BS approach who says what she thinks and thinks what she says.
It seems like the Republocrats who run Columbia and Boone County throw money at the candidate of the moment, the golden child du jour. This year, Wright is that candidate. I always wonder: What do these powerful folks -- too many of them small r republicans and small d democrats -- want in return?
More corporate welfare? More undue advantages over average folks? Like they don't have enough already.
I'll warn you Dems, too: In the arena of ideas, Nancy Copenhaver will give Republican rival Mitch Richards a harder time in the general election than Wright will. Copenhaver and Richards are both true believer populists, and a battle between them would be a battle royale.
Money matters in politics, and I admire anyone who can raise it like John Wright. But this year, I'm thinking voters want ideas. They want heart. In those areas, for this Democratic primary, I think Nancy Copenhaver has the edge. The populist edge. And I'll take populist over powerful any day, especially these days.