Skip to comments.How A Conservative Darling Could Lose His Conservative State
Posted on 05/18/2014 3:57:20 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
There's been nothing but bad news lately for Gov. Sam Brownback.
The FBI is investigating close associates of the Kansas Republican, including his former chief of staff, for possible lobbying and fundraising improprieties, as well as sweetheart deals involving state business.
Brownback dismisses it as a "smear" campaign. Nothing may come of it, but it's certainly made for some bad press.
Also, the state's bond rating was cut earlier this month amid plunging revenues, lending credibility to his opponents' arguments that his massive tax-cut packages have damaged the state.
"The polls show that he's very vulnerable for somebody who should be overseeing a solidly Republican state," says Mark Desetti, a lobbyist for the Kansas branch of the National Education Association.
The most recent poll, by Rasmussen, shows Brownback leading his Democratic opponent, state House Minority Leader Paul Davis, by 7 points. Davis had led in some earlier surveys and Brownback's own numbers have been consistently below 50 percent, which is always a warning sign for an incumbent.
Despite GOP dominance of the state, Kansas has shown itself willing to elect Democratic governors in recent times and vote out unpopular Republicans.
"The pendulum has swung so far to the right that it's made a lot of people in Kansas uncomfortable," says Laura Kelly, the Democratic whip in the state Senate. "I think they're going to be anxious to pull it back to the middle."
Brownback's tax cuts have not only diminished state revenue but led to cuts in education that even the state Supreme Court has declared unacceptable.
Teachers, who are also angry about recent state legislation stripping them of tenure, are now protesting the governor wherever he appears. It's not a huge surprise that teachers and their union are opposed to a Republican governor, but it does lend the Davis campaign an army of volunteers.
"You can't swing a dead cat without hitting somebody that's pissed off about what he's doing," says Dan Watkins, a former executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party.
What may be most dangerous for Brownback is opposition from fellow Republicans. Kansas has long had, in effect, a three-party system, with moderate and conservative Republicans operating as separate, unfriendly camps.
Until 2012, moderates still controlled the state Senate, but Brownback and his allies targeted and ousted several of them in GOP primaries that year.
That has left a lot of bad feeling among members of the political class. Several prominent Republicans have endorsed Davis, or are about to.
Whether their enmity is widely shared by the voting public is the question that will likely decide the governor's fate.
"Brownback's got his work cut out for him, just trying to convince moderate Republicans, 'Hey, I'm okay I'm not that guy all these newspapers are telling you about,'" says Ed Flentje, a political scientist at Wichita State University.
Clayton Barker, the executive director of the Kansas GOP, says that the environment for Brownback isn't as favorable this year as in 2010, when he won election with 63 percent of the vote. He also credits Democrats with being better organized this year.
But he notes that the Republican registration advantage in the state is huge and that Brownback, who will not want for money, has barely gotten his campaign underway.
"Some moderates may disagree with some things that Brownback has done, but they won't break with the party," Barker says.
Brownback can make the case that unemployment has dropped on his watch it fell to 4.8 percent last month. Tax cuts, while maybe not so popular with bond rating agencies, are an easy sell with the public.
And Brownback will do everything he can to tie Davis to President Obama, who is highly unpopular in the state.
"Paul Davis has spent the past five years defending Obama and Obamacare," says Susan Wagle, the Republican president of the state Senate. "I believe once Kansas voters know his record in the House, they'll vote strongly against him and for the governor."
Pinning opponents to Obama is a common GOP strategy, of course one that Kansas conservatives used even against their fellow Republicans in 2012.
"A great indication of how Brownback and his people are unready for a tough race is when they had a $93 million [budget] shortfall last month and immediately said it was Obama's fault," says Burdett Loomis, a political scientist at the University of Kansas. "Even Republicans found that laughable."
Loomis, who worked for Kathleen Sebelius when she was the Democratic governor of the state, notes that Democrats have been elected governor of Kansas every 12 years since 1966. In three of those cases, they unseated one-term Republican incumbents.
"Republicans in this state lose when Democrats can actually make them personally responsible for one problem or another," Loomis says. "Brownback is in far worse shape than either Robert Bennett or Mike Hayden, the last two Republican governors who lost after one term."
Kansas is a Republican state and this is shaping up to be a Republican year. That's what makes the Brownback story so compelling, says Jeff Roe, a GOP consultant based in Kansas City, Mo.
"It's a man bites dog story can a Republican lose in Kansas?" he says.
But Roe says once Brownback starts outlining his agenda for a second term and advertising the successes of his first, there's no way a relatively liberal candidate like Davis will be able to beat him, given the state's conservative bent.
"This is going to be a fun race to watch in May and June," Roe says, "and a real boring one to watch in October and November."
Only National Pinko Radio would think that a Kansas governor could be ousted for cutting taxes too much.
If the FBI don’t get him, the IRS will. Of course, there’s no proof that the orders for this came from on high. I’m sure the FBI is looking at Dem governors wrongdoings as well./s
National Propagandist Radio? Now there’s an objective news source. /sarc
Goodness, this could have been a paid political advertisement for the Democrat candidate! Seems the only people interviewed for the story were Democrats or their fellow travelers.
Partisan Media Shills ping. Thanks SeekAndFind.
Well, Mr. Greenblatt, I have future schadenfreude for people like you. (who seem to be emerging from their dark hiding places at an ever-increasing pace)
From the Forward to Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis:
"Perhaps it helps us, as surely as it helped the war-weary British people who first heard these talks, to remember that God plays a great joke on those who would seek after power at any cost. As Lewis reminds us, with his customary humor and wit, "How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different the saints."
(Forward written by Kathleen Norris)
Would be interesting to see NPR riding around middle America looking at Dem scandals. We’ve always jumped on our own over this shadow innuendo crap,trying to take the high road and be honorable. Democrats don’t care about the law, so “What difference does it make???” Let’s play by Democrat rules now.
The Democrat cupboard in Kansas is bare. There literally is nobody to run against him.
It only took one sentence before they identified him as Republican. They went on to use use Republican and GOP, alternaey a dozen times.
I remember reading an NPR report on the crook in Louisiana ( Jefferson) who now resides in prison. I think they identified him as a RAT at the very end of the story.
Tim Huelskamp is being primaried from the left by a Boehner bootlicker.
Kobach was part of removing RINOs and now there are trying to hit on a new business.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Friday that his involvement in a new firearms manufacturing firm in northeast Kansas stems from his interest in hunting and shooting and not to set up a challenge to federal gun laws.
Play it like the democrats.
1) No one is more shocked and angered than Brownback
2) We will launch an investigation
3) We can not answer questions while the investigation is going on
4) Come on dude, that was like, 2 months ago.
Takin the play back to them