Archive for Saturday, July 19, 2008

Governor decries Democratic senator

Party rift prompts Sebelius to back incumbent’s opponent

July 19, 2008


Kathleen Sebelius: Two decades in politics

Kathleen Sebelius is the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services in Obama's Cabinet. She has served as Kansas' governor since 2002 and before that was insurance commissioner and a state representative.

— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and another Democratic leader are trying to unseat a legislator from their own party for voting against the governor and endorsing Republican Phill Kline in the 2006 attorney general's race.

Sebelius and Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, sent a letter earlier this month that endorsed Kelly Kultala in the 5th District and asked for a $1,000 contribution for her. The letter was sent statewide July 3 to unions, political action committees and lobbyists.

Kultala is running against Sen. Mark Gilstrap, a three-term incumbent, in the Aug. 5 primary.

Kultala, a former Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., commissioner, is campaigning with the slogan: "A real voice, a real leader, a real Democrat."

'In name only'

In six years as governor, Sebelius has supported only two candidates in contested primaries: a House member who lost and a county clerk candidate who won.

Neither Hensley nor Sebelius have gone against a Democratic legislator before.

"I would say Mark is a Democrat in name only," Hensley said Friday. "He increasingly has voted with the more conservative Republicans. If he wants to be a Republican, he should change parties. He hasn't supported defining issues where Democrats need to be Democrats."

Gilstrap, who like Kultala is from Kansas City, said he doesn't know the reason for the letter.

"It caught me off guard. When the governor in your own party doesn't want you to be in her clubhouse, it may bother you a little bit," he said. "I can't think of one issue that would have put me over the top to upset them."

In a June 12 e-mail to Gilstrap, Hensley cited several reasons, including Gilstrap's support of Kline's failed re-election bid two years ago. Kline is a conservative abortion opponent.

"He committed the cardinal sin of being a Democrat who endorsed one of the most extreme Republicans around," Hensley said. "This is about supporting a right-wing agenda."

District representation

Gilstrap said he goes against the party to vote the wishes of his district, where 37 percent of registered voters are Democratic, 33 percent are Republican and 30 percent are independent.

"I have to represent everybody. If I decided to represent only the Democrats, then two-thirds of the district wouldn't care much for me," Gilstrap said.

Hensley said Gilstrap never voted to uphold a Sebelius veto, including two on legislation this year allowing two coal-fired power plants in southwestern Kansas. Also, Hensley said, Gilstrap opposed the governor on other issues.

"The priorities that the governor and many Kansans hold about the importance of health care access and school funding, as well as opposing two new coal plants, were not shared by Senator Gilstrap. Governor Sebelius is supporting Kelly Kultala, who she believes will better represent Kansans," Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said.

Party rift

Republicans say the rift will lead to the election in November of GOP candidate Steve Fitzgerald, of Leavenworth.

Gilstrap defeated him in 2004 by 814 votes out of 25,700 cast in the district that includes parts of Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties.

"It's nice to see Democrats eating each other alive in the 5th District," said GOP Executive Director Christian Morgan.

Hensley said the rift does not indicate wider problems within the party.

Morgan said Sebelius and Hensley, who generally support abortion rights, turned against Gilstrap because of his opposition to abortion.

"I think they have grown sick of Gilstrap's support for life, and it's obvious they can't handle it anymore," Morgan said.

Hensley said it isn't about abortion.

"It's the other issues where he has abandoned the Democratic Party. We supported him in 2000 and 2004, and if abortion was the reason, we wouldn't have supported him then," Hensley said.

Gilstrap suggested the opposition arose after he told Hensley he couldn't support him for minority leader unless he got more Democrats elected this year. Democrats hold 10 of the 40 Senate seats.

"I didn't say I would challenge him, but I would consider it," Gilstrap said.

That's not the issue, Hensley said.

"It has nothing to do with leadership," he said. "It has everything to do with Mark abandoning the caucus."


notajayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

What would be really amusing is if Gilstrap followed their advice and switched parties - and won. Governor, ask the Democratic party in Connecticut how well it worked out trying to get rid of an incumbent for not being a pure enough Democrat.

sinedie 9 years, 10 months ago

The 5th district could do a lot better than Gilstrap, but classclown is right: parties are only useful for organization in legislative bodies. Beyond that, they only encourage people to value the party line over their own constituencies.

bondmen 9 years, 10 months ago

Independent minded, clear thinking, constituent representing Democrats not only need not apply but are not at all welcome by the Governor of Kansas. The people are a different matter however!

Frank Smith 9 years, 10 months ago

Gilstrap voted for private prisons on 5/5/06. Here's what bipartisan Senators said about that vote:Mr. President: I am a proponent for the sentencing of aggravated habitual sex offenders. I am also a proponent of freeing up bed space that is currently occupied by non-violent, non-person offenses who were sentenced under the old sentencing guidelines. This will free up bed space leaving these beds for the most violent. I am an opponent of the second part of this bill, PRIVATE PRISONS. Private prisons must stand alone from any other measure.A number of ethical questions arise when private corporations profit from depriving human beings of their liberty. A natural concern is that the very nature of the arrangement invites these companies to prioritize their profits over the needs of those in their custody. No matter how credible the reputation, there are numerous examples of private prison corporations cutting corners in order to maximize their earnings, primarily through cutting back on staff pay, training and inmate programming. These actions lead to unrest among inmates, un-derstaffing of facilities, and a prison staff that is unprepared to handle potentially dangerous situations. Whose child or grandchild will be the victim of a sex offender escapee? This combination of factors is a threat to the safety of inmates, staff, and Kansans alike.- Donald Betts, Jr.Senator Haley requests the record to show he concurs with the ''Explanation of Vote'' offered by Senator Betts on HB 2576.Mr. President: I do support and have supported the provisions of HB 2576 regarding sexual predators. I cannot and will not support the provisions for private prisons.-Jay Scott EmlerSenators Lee, McGinn and Reitz request the record to show they concur with the ''Explanation of Vote'' offered by Senator Emler on HB 2576.Mr. President: For the third time this Session, I vote ''No'' on HB 2576. This measure is obviously designed to inflate our prison-bed space population beyond reason...or imaginable afford ability.What conscientious legislator does not want to be tough on sex predators? Certainly, not me. David Haley's record of rooting out and punishing predators of all degrees is clear during my last dozen years in the Kansas legislature... But this bill (HB 2576) is, as we know, only SB 334 with a vicious twist. Since we cannot bed all of the inmates this bill will create, let's contract out to private prisons.As a sane fiscal conservative, I will not allow my principles to be compromised for the flagrant ''crime-du-jour''; sex predators, creating a ''stacking'' effect we can't afford. I am not fooled. Hardly content with the performance of our State Department of Corrections, it is too devious, no, too diabolical, to abdicate foolishly and knowingly the responsibility of our state to incarcerate and to reform to the more expensive and less responsible privately managed facilities.-David Haley

classclown 9 years, 10 months ago

"2008 will be a big Democratic year. We're rid of Barone. Now for Gilstrap."===============================Kropotkin are you one of his constituents? Or are you illustrating the point about how toeing the party line is more important than actually representing the people in the district in which they serve?

classclown 9 years, 10 months ago

Sebelius and Hensley are out to get you Sen. Gilstrap. Don't drop the soap.

Frank Smith 9 years, 10 months ago

In 2004, Gilstrap had to spend his own money, $35,000 to retain this seat. His second largest contributor: Out of state labor unions, $18,750. I expect that union money will now go to Kelly.2008 will be a big Democratic year. We're rid of Barone. Now for Gilstrap.

Frank Smith 9 years, 10 months ago

Why would Gilstrap vote to override the Goveror's veto on that air-fouling, water sucking, surrogate Colorado power plant?Here's 1,800 reasons:Duke Energy Electric Utilities-Colorado $300 8/20/2003 Aquila Inc. Electric Utilities $250 11/03/2003 Kansas City Power & Light Electric Utilities $250 10/13/2004 Kansas Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Assn. Oil & Gas $250 07/21/2004 Atmos Energy Oil & Gas TX $200 10/25/2004 Kansas Gas Service Electric Utilities $200 11/03/2003 Kansas Gas Service Electric Utilities $150 07/23/2004 Kansas Committee for Rural Electrification Electric Utilities $100 10/13/2004 Kansas Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Assn. Oil & Gas $100 10/13/2004

classclown 9 years, 10 months ago

This is a prime example why political parties need to be abolished. The will of the people a person represents is supposed to take a back seat to the party line.The Governor now seeks to punish a Senator for not dancing when she pulled on his strings. Her actions are sending a clear message to the people of Wyandotte County (and others) that while they may be the ones paying the piper, they are not allowed to call the tune.Get rid of political parties and allow representatives to focus on the needs/wants of their constituents, and perhaps we can get rid of a lot of the problems we have today with the parties in place.

situveux1 9 years, 10 months ago

"In six years as governor, Sebelius has supported only two candidates in contested primaries: a House member who lost and a county clerk candidate who won."Funny, I got an email from the governor a few weeks ago where she endorsed Jim Slattery who is running against Lee Jones for the Dem nomination for US Senator. Did the JW just take what the governor's office told them and publish it or did they not think it was prudent to put their thinking caps on and check on that?Another fine journalistic example from the JW. Perhaps they should think about printing a retraction...or is that not done anymore when a paper refuses to print facts.

EyeOnTopkea 9 years, 10 months ago

I'll have to say that it's a bit ironic that Hensley is going after Gilstrap over Gilstrap's siding with Republicans. I've read that Gilstrap has sided with the republicans on 93% of his votes. BUT, Hensley himself has sided with those very same republicans over 90% of HIS votes. Now can anyone tell me why Sebelius is partnering with Hensley against Gilstrap? Seems to me they are both pretty much the same, with maybe the exception of abortion rights. I think Sebelius, Hensley and Gilstrap need to just work through this rather than give the 5th district away, which is a very likely outcome if they don't back off.Maybe Gilstrap SHOULD flip parties???

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