Archive for Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sebelius may tap 2nd GOP convert

Ex-Republican Party leader appears likely to be running mate

May 31, 2006


— Former Kansas Republican Party Chairman Mark Parkinson switched to the Democratic Party on Tuesday, increasing speculation that he will join Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as her lieutenant governor running mate and spotlighting the political warfare within the state GOP.

Parkinson, 48, an attorney from Olathe and former Republican legislator, did not return telephone messages Tuesday.

Sebelius' campaign declined to comment, saying she would announce her selection of a new running mate today at an event on the Kansas University Edwards Campus in Overland Park.

The conversion of Parkinson and possible placement on the top statewide ticket stunned the Kansas political world.

The Kansas Republican Party dominates state politics. Of the state's 1.7 million voters, approximately 780,000 are registered as Republican, 450,000 are registered Democrats and 450,000 are unaffiliated, with the rest registered with minor parties.

But the GOP has been racked by infighting over issues such as abortion, school funding and stem cell research.

Republican reaction

While Democrats were tight-lipped about Parkinson's plans, Republican emotions ranged from outrage to disappointment that a star in the GOP crossed party lines.

"I'm disgusted," House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, said.

Mays accused Parkinson of being opportunistic and disloyal. Although the state Republican Party has moved further right in recent years, he said it still had a place for politicians like Parkinson.

"I can't describe how shocked and disappointed I am," he said.

State Republican Party Chairman Tim Shallenburger predicted that Parkinson would blame his switch on the GOP moving too far right to suit him.

"An enormous hypocrisy is about to be unveiled (today)," Shallenburger said. "It ought to be a hoot."

Shallenburger invited other Republicans to leave the party.

"If you think taxes should be higher and schools should be run by the government, then become Democrats. Make my life simpler," he said.

But other Republicans said it was the rightward march by the party that was driving some members away.

Mark Parkinson

Age: 48 Family: Married, three children Religion: Catholic Occupation: Lawyer Political and governmental experience: chairman of Kansas Republican Party, 1999-2003; served in Kansas Senate, 1993-97; Kansas House, 1991-92.

They pointed to the Republican majority on the Kansas State Board of Education, which adopted science standards that criticize evolution and hired as education commissioner Bob Corkins, who had no experience in the education field and proposed using tax dollars for private schools. And they pointed to some in the GOP who spend most of their time focusing on opposing abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

"The right-wing nature of the party is what is causing good people like Mark Parkinson to leave the Republican Party," said Andy Wollen, chairman of the Kansas Traditional Republican Majority. "It is scary and dangerous."

Switch anticipated

Parkinson already had indicated his displeasure with some in the GOP by signing on as co-chair of Paul Morrison's campaign to unseat Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, a Republican. Morrison switched to the Democratic Party to run against Kline.

In 2004, Parkinson was chairman of the Shawnee Area Chamber of Commerce when it cut its ties to the Kansas Chamber of Commerce because of the statewide organization's opposition to a tax increase for schools.

At the time, Parkinson said: "The state chamber's position that there be no additional funding of schools is short-sighted and unrealistic. When its No. 1 priority is opposite of our No. 1 priority, it is time to say goodbye."

Parkinson was chairman of the state GOP from 1999 to 2003.

During the 2002 governor's race, Parkinson and other prominent Republicans met when it became apparent that then-Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall, a Republican, was not going to run to try to succeed Republican Gov. Bill Graves, who could not seek a third term.

At the time, Shallenburger, who was running for governor, expressed displeasure that he was left out of the meeting.

Shallenburger said then that Parkinson was part of a small group of Republicans who "are concerned that I am not the kind of Republican they want."

Democrats favor Parkinson

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Democratic leaders said they didn't know for sure whom Sebelius would pick but that Parkinson would be a good nominee.

"He is a real even-keeled, thoughtful guy," said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka.

"I believe he believes he is more philosophically attuned with Democrats. It's the old adage: He didn't leave the party; the party left him," Hensley said.

In 2002, Sebelius picked another Republican - John Moore, a Cessna executive from Wichita - as her running mate. Earlier this month, Moore said he would not seek a second term as lieutenant governor, wanting instead to spend more time with his family in Wichita.

Sebelius' ability to pull in Republican voters was the winning difference in 2002 when she defeated Shallenburger. Coming from Johnson County, Parkinson also would bring a geographic benefit to the ticket. The county is the largest in the state and is home to nearly 21 percent of Kansas voters.


Richard Heckler 11 years, 7 months ago

Mays seems to spend most of his life being disgusted but then again he is a bit disgusting.

Ken Miller 11 years, 7 months ago

Parkinson will serve the state well. He is very thoughtful and in tune with issues in Kansas. He is another moderate Republican who simply has had enough with the Meisterburger Shallenburger mentality. Good luck to the Kansas GOP finding a gubernatorial candidate who can take more than 35 percent in the next election.

akuna 11 years, 7 months ago

Shallenburger invited other Republicans to leave the party. "If you think taxes should be higher and schools should be run by the government, then become Democrats. Make my life simpler," he said.

Please make his life easier and become a democrat. Besides he, and the rest of the republican party, must have a blindfold over his eyes, because he can't see that with the republicans in power we have a national debt that far outreaches anything that the democrats have done, we have the feds in our schools with "No Child Left Behind," we've turned to nation building - which is a bad idea as democracy has to be the will of the people not enforced on them.

Take off your blindfold, open your eyes, and become a democrat. Let's start focusing on things that matter and are not helping the large, lumbering government get into our private lives. Vote democrat and get this wonderful nation back on track.

Godot 11 years, 7 months ago

Akuna, Gov. Sebelius is touting the fantastic Kansas economy and a positive outlook. You need to consult the playbook before you start posting. You run the risk of highlighting the problem with the current crop of Democrats: they wallow in pessimism, and prefer to look back and assign blame rather than offer solutions.

1derer 11 years, 7 months ago

Does this mean that the only form of prostitution that is legal in Kansas is political prostitution? Just wondering.

1derer 11 years, 7 months ago

Akuna, this is not a democracy, it is a republic.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 7 months ago

rightthinker praised godot's post as "an absolute truism." Which caused me to wonder, what would qualify as "a relative truism?"

1derer 11 years, 7 months ago

There is a difference.

Wilbur, "it may be true for you, but it is not true for me."

fletch 11 years, 7 months ago

"they wallow in pessimism, and prefer to look back and assign blame rather than offer solutions"

Yeah, which is what Republicans have done nationally until they won back the House majority in the 90s. Until then it was all about how the country was going to hell because of the liberals in charge and how everything in life was just so horrible that your only option was to elect Republicans because they'd do it differently.

It's what happens when you're the out party. If the out party was going around saying that the party in power was doing a swell job, it would make a poor argument for winning over voters. But hey, whatever inane piece of logic helps you sleep at night.

ASBESTOS 11 years, 7 months ago

Sorry Parkay, but abortion is not a "conservative" political principal. The government decideing what someone can and can't do? THe issue of "Conservatism" in Kansas is so poorly understood it makes one head spin. Konservatism" (that is Kansas style) is to have the State (Government) decide about Religion in the classroom, sex education will be abstinance traning (9 months to learn to say "No"), and worrying about the gay thing. These guys are the RINOs, not the so called "moderate" wing of the Kansas Republican party. I saw this coming for 6 years in Kansas, the Bible thumpers (My description for self important types like Connie Morris and their ilk akd Phred Phelps), and now the mass migration has started. Kansas will become the "bluedog democrats" like Texas had. Conservatives with a social conscience and much less vitreol on purly social issues.

Befor you start labeling people Rinos and Conservatives, read Barry Goldwaters book, "The Conscience of a Conservative", todays Kansas Republican party is definately NOT conservative. I read that book quite often when trying to see the right path on a political issue, most of the times it is not in line with the Kansas Repubs. It is never however in line with left wingers. That is why we got BIll Clinton, guys like me said hell with you guys. That is happening again, that's 19% of the vote would have defeated Cinton. And you still bang the drum for yesterday.

Put a pry bar in your percieved morals and get into the present.

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