Archive for Monday, July 10, 2006

Political war in GOP shows up at primary

Right wing, moderates duel to represent Kansas Republicans

July 10, 2006


— The political war in the Republican Party over which wing truly represents the GOP is being waged in the race for state insurance commissioner.

On one side is the commissioner, Sandy Praeger, a longtime Lawrence political figure.

Challenging her in the Aug. 1 Republican Party primary is Eric Carter, a state representative from Overland Park.

The insurance commissioner is elected to a four-year term and supervises all transactions related to insurance companies in Kansas, including mergers, business conduct and the products they sell. The insurance department has a $22 million budget and employees nearly 150 people.

The winner of the GOP primary will face Democrat Bonnie Sharp, a state representative from Kansas City, Kan.

Ideology rules

Political observers say Carter's challenge has little to do with the actual job of running the state insurance department, but more about ideology.

The candidates

Sandy Praeger Republican, Lawrence Age: 61 Family: Married, two children Education: Undergraduate degree in education from Kansas University Occupation: Insurance commissioner Political and governmental experience: Member of Kansas Senate 1992 to 2002; member of Kansas House 1990-92; served on Lawrence City Commission and was mayor 1986-87; member of numerous community boards and commissions. Eric Carter Republican, Overland Park Age: 34 Family: Married, four children Education: Undergraduate degree in science from Harvard; law degree from University of Missouri-Kansas City Occupation: Lawyer Political and governmental experience: Member of Kansas House since 2003. The primary election is Aug. 1.

"It's no secret that Sandy Praeger is considered to be in the moderate wing of the Republican Party," said Joe Aistrup, head of Kansas State University's political science department.

"She's clearly out of former Gov. Bill Graves' mold of moderate Republicans, and conservatives generally don't like that mold," Aistrup said.

"It's just a matter of one group of Republicans going after another group of Republicans," he said.

Carter on offense

Carter accuses Praeger of being a RINO - Republican in name only.

Carter points to two instances: In 2004, Praeger voiced support for a portion of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's health plan.

And in the same year, Praeger said she supported an increase in the state tax on cigarettes to pay for extending health care coverage to thousands of uninsured Kansans.

"Every major policy agenda item that Praeger has advanced, she has been doing it as Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' sidekick," Carter said.

Praeger disagrees with Carter's assessment.

Praeger said she supported parts of Kerry's health care plan and opposed others. The part she agreed with was a goal of helping businesses defray the health-care cost of chronically ill employees, she said. She also criticized President Bush's plan to allow employer groups to create unregulated self-insurance plans.

Ironically, Praeger said, Bush has proposed $500 million in grants to states to work on a reinsurance program, where insurers would pay a surcharge to establish a pool of insurance to cover costs associated with chronically ill workers.

On the cigarette tax increase, Praeger said she supported it as an option to pay for expanded coverage to the uninsured. But she said the cigarette tax wasn't something she lobbied for. The proposal went nowhere in the Legislature.

Carter said it's OK for Republicans and Democrats to agree, but only to an extent.

"Reaching across the aisle is not always a sin, but forgetting to come back is," he said.

Turnout crucial

"He's grasping at straws," Praeger said of Carter's assertions that she is not a true Republican.

Praeger has been endorsed by former Republican U.S. Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, who serves as Praeger's honorary campaign chair, and Graves.

"Those folks are the heart and soul of the Republican Party," she said.

Praeger said she is running on her record of reducing operating expenses in the agency, providing a balanced regulatory environment that has resulted in more insurance companies competing in Kansas and more monitoring of insurance fraud.

Average auto premiums have decreased 6 percent, homeowners' rates are stable and health insurance coverage for families is lower in Kansas than any of the surrounding states, Praeger said.

Carter insists he has more real-world experience in the field as an attorney handling insurance-related litigation. He has been endorsed by the right-wing Kansas Republican Assembly.

Both candidates, according to the latest campaign finance reports, are in the same ballpark as far as raising funds to run. Praeger started the year with $138,000 and Carter, $94,000. The next report is due July 24.

Aistrup, the political science professor, said the election will come down to which candidate gets their supporters to the polls.

"There are a lot of variables in this Republican Party primary," he said.

"There will be hotly contested State Board of Education seats that should mobilize quite a few to the polls. It's a question of how many conservatives show up and how many of them decide to pull the lever for Mr. Carter.

"It's one of those races to watch."


Richard Heckler 11 years, 9 months ago

Kansas does not need another Phill Kline or Corkins kind of republican hanging around Topeka Kansas no matter what elected office.

BrianR 11 years, 9 months ago

Praeger had done a good job. If Carter is using RINO to describe his opponent, Carter is a wacko and I need know nothing more about him.

Patrick Wilbur 11 years, 9 months ago

Patrick Wilbur is also running an active campaign as a Libertarian.

Check out and link to the 2006 Kansas LP candidates page.

Jamesaust 11 years, 9 months ago

I note that on Mr. Carter's campaign website, he endorses the following quotation: "We know that a liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money."

As a parishoner of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Leawood, I wonder which of the Holy Father's instructions on caring for the poor, sick, and needy Mr. Carter feels are not mandatory for him?

Mr. Carter seems to adopt a rather extreme free market ideology for an area of economic life - health insurance and health care - that is the least amenable to such an approach. Many of the prerequisites for a free market do not exist in health care, including the absence of coercion, a balance between sellers/buyers, competition among providers, and sufficiency of knowledge to consumers.

Insurance Commissioner is too important an office to allow agenda-driven candidates to practice economic voodoo.

abe_froman 11 years, 9 months ago

I think candidates introducing extreme politics in races for Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State and State Treasurer is ridiculous.

I find the current statements made by the conservative Republican branch inflaming and unhelpful. The only thing it does is irk me in the same way Tom Cruise does. And by the by, I feel the same about those on the extreme left.

The difference in Kansas politics though is this. The Conservative Republicans keep shouting and pointing fingers. I view the Moderate Republicans as making some bold statements but chosing their words wisely. And from MY point of view (and by MY I mean mine and no others on this board or in this state), the Democrats in office in the State of Kansas also are good about chosing their words.

I can say right now, I wouldn't give my vote to Carter. Because he is grasping at straws. His posts on his Web sites prove it.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 9 months ago

Huh. I'll bet Sandy is surprised to learn that Shallenberger and she both are too left-wing to be real Republicans. Given, that is, that he was criticized last year for being too inclusive a party chairman and, obviously therefore, a RINO.

bthom37 11 years, 9 months ago

So, no one needs insurance because if you pray to Jesus, he will save you?

drewdun 11 years, 9 months ago

"Praeger has been endorsed by former Republican U.S. Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, who serves as Praeger's honorary campaign chair, and Graves.

"Those folks are the heart and soul of the Republican Party," she said"

Uhh, no. The heart and soul of the Republican Party are right-wing psychos like Arminius, rt, conman, and the other wingnuts that infest this board. I say, keep up the ideological litmus tests and the purges, so the moderates will keep bolting the American Fascist Union, formerly known as the Grand Old Party.

Terry Jacobsen 11 years, 9 months ago

Sandy Praegar is not a moderate, she is a left wing radical who really is a democrat calling herself a republican. This is evident, when a "Republican" gets more votes from the "Democrats" than they do from their own party. Say what you want, but Sandy Praegar is a RINO.

meggers 11 years, 9 months ago

Arminius, you said:

"BTW, the modern Democrat Party is much closer to being fascist than the GOP. In fact, if you look at the National Socialists' platform during the early 1920s, you'd swear it was the Democrats' 2004 platform"

Fascism and socialism consist of opposing principles altogether. How in the world can you justify calling the democratic party both 'fascist' and 'socialist' in the same paragraph?

With that said, the Bush administration comes far closer to fascism than practically any other administration in our nation's presidential history...nationalist propoganda, corporatism, militarization, redefining well-established law, breaking laws arbritrarily, etc. Despite that, I don't believe the Bush administration actually embraces fascism as a political goal or ideal.

Similarly, democrats probably identify more with the socialist model in a philosophical context(placing value on indviduals over wealth, power, etc.), but I've yet to meet a democrat who is actually a socialist. Let alone a FASCIST socialist. I've seen you toss plenty of insults and generalizations around, Arminius, but I think you've outdone yourself with that one!

Strontius 11 years, 9 months ago

As a Democratic Socialist myself, let me state very clearly that the Democratic Party in no way approaches socialism. Universal Health Care and other socialist programs are only seriously considered by a few big names in the Democratic Party and have little chance of going anywhere in a society that considers the term "socialist" to be almost synonymous with "child molester".

The Democractic Party actually falls in about dead center of the political spectrum. This is a problem for a lot of people because most of us don't want to be grey, we want to pick a side and have it out in the political arena. If we had a parliamentary system, then we might see a blossoming of both political parties and new types of political thought. For now, we are slaves of the two party system, and for many of us, we vote for the party or candidate who will screw us least.

The Republican Party is about the right-wing equivelent to socialism on the political spectrum, although this neo-conservatism is a wierd beast and hard to nail down.

Jamesaust 11 years, 9 months ago

"You and Carter attend the same church? Can you tell us more about him?"

Sure thing. Mr. Carter (again): "We know that a liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money."

So, Mr. Carter has disclaimed the duties of Insurance Commissioner before being elected. Much like the AG has disclaimed to enforce the laws as written, the Legislature has disclaimed to carry out their constitutional duty to provide an adequate education. Apparently thats the extremist strategy - get elected to positions where they can adopt "anti" policies that are the opposite of the job.

If elected, is Carter going to have a form letter for the sick who get the run-around from their insurance company (waiting for them to die) that says "sucks to be you"? Apparently, yes.

If elected, is Carter going to have a form letter for the poor who get the run-around from their insurance company (believing they're too dumb to hold them accountable) that says "too bad, so sad"? Apparently, yes.

If Mr. Carter believes for whatever ideological reasons that regulation of the insurance industry is "liberal" per se then he should run on that platform and let the people decide. However, that is a libertarian position - not a Republican one. Carter is the "RINO," having apparently concluded that since a Libertarian Party candidate has no chance of winning he might as well run as a "Republican."

It is often a tactic practised by extremists to hold that their opponents' positions - positions held by significant numbers if not actual majorities of the population - are bizarre, radical points of view as a means of marginalizing non-extremists.

Say whatever you will, Praeger's politics reflect not just many Kansans' own politics, not just a majority, but in fact a vast majority of political thought in the Sunflower State. If Praeger is a "left wing radical" then 75% of Kansans are also.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

If Carter does win, voters can still make sure that he doesn't get to turn complete control of the office and dept. over to the insurance industry. Bonnie Sharp, the Democratic candidate, has been dealing with insurance issues in the legislature for several years, and pledges to make consumer protection her #1 goal.

So Carter's winning the primary could be a blessing in disguise for all Kansans.

EvaTrujillo 11 years, 9 months ago

A Republican believes laws should be applied to the lowest government entity. We can believe that our community needs a family-planning physician who provides abortions, we can believe that prostitution is okay for our community - those beliefs are labeled by some as liberal. What makes those beliefs important to our fifty states is how they are applied. If applied broadly then that is Democratic, if applied according to government entity, that is Republican. Oh, how I wish our party had not been infiltrated by these religious bigots who poured money in to our state, and want to apply their beliefs broadly - because now we have one party. And those of us who are traditional Republicans are now called moderate. Praeger is a true Republican (for Kansas).

EvaTrujillo 11 years, 9 months ago

Republicans are not religious bigots. Our party has been infiltrated by religious bigots who want their beliefs applied liberally, which means they want their ideals applied across the land. These people by definition are Democrat. Traditionally, Democrats were opposed to abortion because they wanted the law to be applied across the land. I haven't studied that much religion to know which ones think killing babies (all are innocent) as one of its tenets, I think there were some Mayans as part of human sacrafice, a long time ago.

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