Archive for Thursday, August 3, 2006

Democrats on attack in governor’s race first morning after primary

August 3, 2006

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— Newly chosen Republican nominee Jim Barnett didn't even have a chance to get a good night's sleep before Democrats were attacking him on behalf of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' re-election campaign.

About 30 reporters in the Topeka area received unsolicited, nicely wrapped gift boxes from the state Democratic Party on Wednesday morning, less than 12 hours after Barnett won the GOP primary. Inside each was a pair of flip-flops and an eight-page guide to alleged inconsistencies in Barnett's record in the Kansas Senate.

Barnett, of course, had attacked Sebelius during his primary campaign, suggesting she hadn't shown much leadership in four years and had an attitude of, "Take two aspirin and call me when I'm president or vice president." Barnett, of Emporia, is a physician.

The Democrats' guide suggested Barnett's attitude was, "Take two positions and call me in the morning."

"It's a way for us to make a legitimate point about the opposition, that it's hard to figure where they stand on a lot of issues," said Mike Gaughn, Democrats' state executive director.

It wasn't the first shot fired in the Nov. 7 general election campaign by the governor. Already, Sebelius is airing a pair of TV ads - one showing support for the military and the other touting her efforts to trim government waste.

Barnett said the Democrats were misrepresenting much of his record but said the attack didn't surprise him, even coming so soon after his Tuesday night victory.

"What that shows is that Kathleen Sebelius is worried. She knows that I'm going to be tough for her beat in this campaign," Barnett said. "I'm really pleased to know that they're worried."

Some of the issues raised by the Democrats' guide were part of the primary campaign, which saw Barnett emerge from a seven-candidate field with 36 percent of the vote.

For example, Barnett voted against a bill allowing Kansans to carry concealed guns in 2004 but voted for similar legislation in 2006.

Barnett said his earlier opposition came from his stint supervising the emergency room at a Dallas hospital, which he said gave him "an emotional concern regarding firearms." Later, he said, his constituents asked him to reconsider his opposition, and he studied literature on it.

"I want the people of Kansas to know that I am and will always be open to considering new information," he said.

Democrats also chastised Barnett for criticizing a 2004 law giving some illegal immigrants a tuition break at state colleges and universities, which Sebelius supported.

Barnett's running mate, Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, voted in favor of it.

"Everyone has the right to their own position. I am at the top of the ticket, and my position will be the position of the ticket," Barnett said.

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