Sebelius ad targets illegal immigration

In her television campaign commercials, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has taken credit for resolving the school finance issue and mending a broken state budget.

Now on radio, Sebelius, a Democrat seeking re-election, has turned her sights to illegal immigration.

A new Sebelius radio ad touts the work of the Kansas National Guard in building a fence on the Arizona-Mexico border and blames Washington politicians for failing to stop the “national crisis” of illegal immigrants crossing the border.

The ad states: “Kathleen Sebelius, committed to tough border security, a real crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants, and a strong National Guard.

“Because Kathleen Sebelius knows states like Kansas have to step up when Washington fails to lead,” the ad says.

Republican challenger Jim Barnett’s campaign said Monday that Sebelius was “trying to rewrite her record on illegal immigration.”

Barnett spokesman Rodger Woods stated: “Shifting blame to the federal government doesn’t explain her support of granting additional benefits to encourage illegal immigration to Kansas.”

Barnett often has criticized Sebelius for signing into law legislation that allows the children of some undocumented immigrants the opportunity to pay the lower in-state tuition at regents universities.

Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said that the law required those students to have attended a Kansas high school for at least three years, graduated, and taken steps to become legal citizens. Corcoran also noted that Barnett’s lieutenant governor running mate, state Sen. Susan Wagle of Wichita, voted for the measure.

Woods also said that Sebelius’ claim of commitment to border security “seems at odds” with her reluctance to support President Bush in his call to use the National Guard on the border.

In May, Bush said he would use National Guard troops to help on the border. At that time, Sebelius expressed concern, saying neither she nor other governors had been briefed on any of the plans.

Once details of the mission were known, Corcoran said, Sebelius was on board to deploy Kansas guardsmen. In July, about 50 airmen from the 184th Civil Engineering Squadron, based at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, were deployed to the border.

Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University, said the ad represented another example of Sebelius’ well-oiled campaign.

It allows her to get out front on the immigration issue, which is the No. 1 concern among many voters, he said.

It also allows her to point out that the federal government – not the state government – has failed to enact a workable solution, and it “pre-empts” Barnett’s claim that she is soft on immigration.

“She is going out there ahead of him,” Beatty said. Now, he said, when Barnett runs an ad on illegal immigration, Sebelius can say, “My campaign has been talking about this for weeks.”

For Sebelius, the immigration spot and an economic development ad represent her first foray of the campaign on radio. They are running statewide.

Sebelius has blanketed the airwaves with five television ads this summer on school funding, the budget, economic development and leadership.

Woods declined to say when Barnett would start running advertisements on television or radio.

Barnett won the GOP primary on Aug. 1, having been the only candidate with television ads. But since then he has not had any.

Beatty said Barnett needed to appear on TV soon simply to introduce himself to voters.