A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Senator Kent

Several months back, John Schneider's old Dukes of Hazzard co-star Tom Wopat guest-starred on Smallville as Senator Jack Jennings, a long-time friend of Jonathan Kent. This bit of guest-casting turned out to be more than a one-episode stunt, as it kicked off an ongoing subplot of Jonathan Kent running for Jack's seat in the Senate.

Jonathan ended up winning the election, beating out Lex Luthor, but he died on the evening of the election. The Governor of Kansas then offered Jonathan's seat to Martha Kent, who accepted.

Since the beginning of this storyline, there has been continued confusion over which Senate Jonathan Kent was elected to: the Kansas State Senate, or the United States Senate. Personally, I feel convinced that it's the former, but for the sake of argument, I thought I'd present the evidence for both sides.

U.S. Senate
- Jack Jennings was treated more like a U.S. Senator than a state politician.
- In "Lexmas," future Jonathan was treated more like a U.S. Senator than a state politician.
- There's not much power in being a Kansas state senator that would attract Lex to run.
- There's not much power in being a Kansas state senator to attract Lionel to donate thousands of dollars to Jonathan's campaign.
- State senate races don't tend to have the huge budgets that Jonathan's campaign did.
- State senate candidates rarely run TV ads.
- If they do run TV ads, they definitely don't run them statewide, as Lois said the ads were.
- Jonathan's rally in "Fanatic" would be normal for a U.S. Senate race (maybe even a little big), but would be obscenely huge for a state senate race.
- There would not be a "Students for Lex Luthor" group at Metropolis University if the campaign was for the state senate seat for the Smallville area.
- The news coverage of Jonathan's win in the election is more in line with a U.S. Senate race.

Kansas State Senate
- Lex is too young to run for the U.S. Senate, as the Constitution requires candidates to be 30.
- Jonathan would be a natural candidate for a local race, but would be out of his league in a federal election.
- Neither Lex nor Jonathan appeared to physically campaign outside of the Smallville area.
- Neither Lex nor Jonathan participated in a primary, which would be unlikely for a U.S. Senate race.
- There was no public debate, which would be unusual for a U.S. Senate race.
- The election took place in January, and not November.
- No one, including now-senator Martha Kent, has mentioned ever going to or needing to go to Washington D.C. Only Metropolis has been mentioned.
- Martha made a local foster mom her first Chief-of-Staff, and then made Lois, a college-dropout coffee-shop waitress, her second Chief-of-Staff. That's rather lowbrow for a national office.
- Martha referred to herself as a "state senator" in last week's episode.

I think the evidence definitely leans in favor of the state senate (particularly the fact that Lex is legally barred from running for the other). The evidence in the U.S. Senate category is persuasive on its own, but every bit of it can be chalked up to ignorance or hyperbole on the part of the writers. I believe they wanted to write about a local race, but didn't know how to accurately portray one, and so they ended up giving it the trappings of a much bigger election. The only serious inconsistency when it comes to the state senate is Lex's motivation, but it's not like the writers of Smallville have been terribly consistent when it comes to his character as of late.

Anyone care to disagree?