FEB 24, 2024 JLM 53°F 08:55 AM 01:55 AM EST
Watch: Bless His Heart-Missouri Democrat Debuts Southern Accent After Launching Senate Bid

There’s a consultant-driven playbook for candidates: Ditch the khakis for jeans, roll up your sleeves, and start talking like your constituents. Missouri Democrat Lucas Kunce, who recently announced a Senate bid, may have taken that last piece of advice a little too far.

Since launching his campaign on Jan. 6, Kunce speaks with a soft Southern drawl. The accent was on full display in his campaign launch video, with one scene featuring a meditative Kunce sitting on a porch ripping Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) for his "banker daddy."

That campaign ad was followed up by appearances on MSNBC where Kunce said "Missourians don't tolerate cowards and frauds." Listeners familiar with Kunce, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last cycle, will observe that he sounds notably different from his time as a staffer for the left-wing American Economic Liberties Project just two years ago.

Politicians adopting Southern accents as a way to appear relatable is far from a new phenomenon. Failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton regularly varied her dialect to appeal to different audiences, earning her scorn from even liberal late-night host Jon Stewart. Former president Barack Obama has a habit of sounding more like a Southern Baptist preacher than a Hawaii native when speaking in the South and busted it out as recently as last fall on the campaign trail for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D.) in Georgia. Democratic House candidate Roger Dean Huffstetler transformed from a tech bro to a good ol’ boy just a few months after relocating to a rural Virginia district.

McGill University linguistics professor Charles Boberg, who co-authored the Atlas of North American English, widely considered the pivotal text on accents and dialects in the United States, said he was able to "detect variation" in how Kunce spoke before and after his campaign launch. Boberg speculated that Kunce could be cycling through a "repertoire" of accents that he uses to appeal to different audiences.

Boberg said it is common for individuals to change their accents "in response to the needs of a particular situation."

It is unlikely, however, that Kunce's Southern drawl was adopted from the community he grew up in. The Democratic hopeful was born just outside of Columbia, Missouri, and raised nearby in the state's capital, Jefferson City. That central region of the state, experts say, shares more in common linguistically with parts of Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio, where they speak what is referred to by linguists as "North Midland" and "South Midland" English.

Source: Washington Free Beacon/Youtube

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