Chat transcript with Paul Morrison, Democratic candidate for attorney general
The chat took place on Thursday, November 10, at 3:00 PM and is now closed, but you can read the full transcript on this page.
Moderator: Hello and welcome to our chat this afternoon with Paul Morrison, Johnson County’s district attorney who will be running as a Democrat for Kansas attorney general.
I’m Dave Toplikar, World Online editor, and I’ll be today’s moderator.
We have lots of questions that have been submitted and we’ll go ahead and get started with some of them.
But please feel free to submit questions during this chat.
John, Ottawa: Do you think that voters will have any problem with the fact that you switched parties and did not simply challenge the current AG (Kline) in a primary? Why did you decide against running in the primary?
Paul Morrison: Actually, the decision to switch parties was only made within the past few weeks. I did consider challenging Kline in a primary, but ultimately I felt most comfortable becoming a democrat because it fit my beliefs best.
Terry, Lawrence: What experience do you have in areas of the law that are not criminal in nature?
Paul Morrison: Actually, the vast majority of my experience is in the criminal law. However, my office does handle civil litigation in the consumer fraud area and I have quite a bit of experience in the crime and public policy arena.
Kim, Lenexa: How do you plan to stand firm against the attacks of the far right and motivate the mainstream population to stand up for their rights and vote?
Paul Morrison: I have always strongly believed that the truth ultimately wins out and that voters are smarter than many give them credit. I think that one can still do the right thing and get elected. It is not always easy, however.
Connie, Olathe Democrat: What are two things you would like to change if you are elected attorney general?
Paul Morrison: Actually, there are many things that I would change. Two things that are very important, however relate to the issues of basic competence and where the priorities are now placed within that office. I do not think that priority is being placed on the basics of keeping Kansans safe.
Greg, Lawrence: Phil Kline will be prosecuting a towing company because they allegedly violated the Consumer Protection Act. What priority do you put on consumer protection?
Paul Morrison: Consumer protection should be a big priority with the Attorney Generals office. I have significant experience in building an effective consumer unit within our office.
Todd, Lawrence: Why do we even elect the attorney general? Would it not be better to appoint an AG to work for and not against the governor?
Paul Morrison: Because it is such an important position for the people of this state, I believe it should be an elected office.
Bob, Topeka: The Kansas Legislature passed some stupid resolution about human life that directed and obligated the office of attorney general to sue the governor. Kline, according to the law, had no choice but to file this lawsuit. If you were AG, and bound to defend the state and the laws of the state, would you have filed the lawsuit or would you have made the prudent choice of ignoring the law?
Paul Morrison: It depends upon whether it is a statutory obligation or not. The Attorney General has some obligations that are required by law and not discretionally.
AJ, Topeka: First, THANK YOU SO MUCH for having the courage to switch parties AND to decide to run for AG!! Phill Kline is a HUGE embarrassment to this state. With that said, do you plan to campaign full-time [which Chris Biggs did not do]? How can I [and others] volunteer to help you achieve victory?? Thanks for saving us from another 4 years of Phill and his narrow minded single agenda.
Paul Morrison: I will continue to fulfill my obligations as Johnson County District Attorney during the next year as I have an obligation to the people who elected me. However, I will also work very hard during the campaign. Those who know me will tell you that I am a very hard worker and focused on my goals.
Patty, Eudora: I believe you should resign your office because you were elected as a Republican and not as a Democrat. Why do you think you should not resign your office when only months after winning re-election you change parties, especially in a strong Republican county?
Paul Morrison: I disagree. I only decided to make the switch within that last few weeks and did not make the decision lightly. I know that I can be just as effective a prosecutor whether a democrat or republican. Cases should be handled the same either way, I don’t think partisan politics should play a role in how a case is prosecuted.
Tina, Salina: I’ve heard a lot already about something called bill 323 about letting out criminals. I also heard you were on the sentencing commission at that time and advocated for the passage of this bill.
Can you explain to me why you would support the early release of criminals? Especially since you have already noted that you are a “lawman?”
Paul Morrison: I have not supported the early release of criminals, Senate Bill 323 did not change sentence lengths on the guidelines grid. In fact, the sentencing commission has advocated for many increased sentence lengths over the years and have been successful many times in those endeavors.
Chris, Lawrence: I think it’s great you are running. You’ve got my vote!!!What will be your campaign theme?? What do you think it will take to beat Kline??
Paul Morrison: I bring good credentials to this race, including 25 years of putting criminals behind bars. It is very easy to talk the talk, but actually walking the walk is very different. My theme will be that the Attorney Generals office should get back to the basics of good law enforcement, something I happen to know a lot about.
Jack, Overland Park: In the Johnson County Sun today, you are quoted as saying, “I don’t make decisions in my job as a district attorney based on what’s going to give me the most votes.” How do you defend that quote when it is pure political convenience to switch parties from Republican (the party for which I voted for you) to Democrat. The motive is clear – to get votes. How can you say you are not a politician with such a pure political move?
Paul Morrison: I do not make decisions based on politics. In fact, I have made many decisions over the years that have not helped me politically, I made them because I thought they were the right thing to do. I think that is one attribute that separates me from my opponent.
Parker, Topeka: As a moderate Republican I want to thank you for entering this race. When will you be opening a campaign office and how do we contribute to your campaign?
Paul Morrison: Those things are still in the works. I do have a web site. It is morrisonforag.com.
CA Reynolds: Since you have been critical of the Attorney General’s efforts to examine the laws on underage sexual victimization, what would you do to examine and try those cases? Would you ignore the records of these victims held by abortion providers even though they might be the only concrete evidence of the victimization?
Paul Morrison: First of all, unlike the current Attorney General, I have actually tried child sexual abuse cases. I strongly believe in aggressive enforcement of the laws that protect children against those who would victimize them.
Stephanie, Overland Park: Mr. Morrison, did you feel that you had to switch parties because the Republican Party in Kansas and Johnson County has abandoned moderates in favor of a socially conservative agenda? If that is the way that you feel, what advice do you have for moderate Republicans who are torn between a party that has abandoned them (conservative Republicans) and a party that doesn’t represent their fiscal ideals (Democrats)?
Paul Morrison: Frankly, one of the reasons I switched is because I strongly felt that the Republican Party leadership had abandoned me. I have always been, and will always be, fiscally conservative. I guess that makes me a fairly conservative democrat in some ways. I do think that today in Kansas the democrats represent a more moderate position on most things.
Tom, Ottawa: Will you continue to the state’s current fight with Indian tribes or will you end the fight over tribal sovereignty?
Paul Morrison: That is something I will be talking about over the next year.
Dale, Dodge City: Phill Kline used to be a johnson county politician, yet over the past 3 years he has been in western kansas over a dozen times to support law enforcement and to speak on law enforcement issues. In my opinion, your concerns regarding the political nature of the office seems just, well, political. Why should we ‘change horses’ because you feel that the office is too political when those of us outside of Johnson county feel that he has the support of police and local law?
Paul Morrison: I disagree. I think that there are many in this state who do not feel that my opponent is doing a credible job of law enforcement.
Andrea, Lawrence: Kline has oriented his office around law enforcement and the enhancement of law enforcement’s ability to investigate violent crime and drugs, especially his meth bill. As a challenger, you need to give us a reason why we need a change right now. Kline has done some stuff I’m not crazy about, but he certainly has the support of cops in Kansas. How do you respond to his record over the last 3 years regarding law enforcement?
Paul Morrison: I certainly disagree that he has wide support from law enforcement, In fact, this is much discontent in that arena. I don’t think he has done much in the public safety arena other than posture.
Sam, Topeka: It appears from some of the posts that the Kline folks are out to trash you. Because Kline can’t compete with your credentials, don’t you think he’ll try to make the race a statewide referendum on abortion?
Paul Morrison: It wouldn’t surprise me. In reality, this race should be about which candidate has the experience, credentials and integrity to be the states top law enforcement official.
Moderator: That will have to be our last question today. I’d like to thank our readers for participating and also Paul Morrison for coming down to our News Center here in Lawrence for today’s chat.