Kansas and regional news

Kansas and regional news

Kansas senator’s bid for governor creates upheaval

December 31, 2009


Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback's run for governor has created a scramble in his home state for congressional seats and sets up fellow Republicans for a return to their traditional dominance there in 2010.

Democratic leaders are still searching for a strong challenger for Brownback. And the only Kansas Democrat in Congress, Rep. Dennis Moore, isn't seeking re-election, increasing the chances of a GOP sweep of the state's delegation.

A few years ago, some Democrats suggested the state's normal Republican red was morphing into purple, thanks to Kathleen Sebelius' victories in two governor's races and ability to draw votes from GOP moderates. Now, Sebelius is in Washington as U.S. health and human services secretary and her successor, Gov. Mark Parkinson, isn't seeking a full term this year.

Republicans, anticipating a regime change, are brimming with ambition. Their primaries set for August for Brownback's open Senate seat and U.S. House seats have drawn a total of 20 candidates so far.

Nationally, Republicans look to have a good 2010. And in Kansas, the expectations are even greater.

"If there is going to be a Republican wave anywhere in the nation in 2010, it will occur in Kansas," said Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster in Alexandria, Va.

Brownback said he didn't ponder the upheaval from his decision to leave the Senate because it was set long ago by self-imposed term limits, and "I had no idea what would follow."

Kansas hasn't had both an open Senate and governor's race since 1950. In the past 100 years, it's had three open contests for U.S. House seats only twice — in 1962 and also 1996 when Brownback won his Senate seat.

Democrats insist they'll run competitive races and have a strong candidate for governor. But they also acknowledge the stiff challenge they face against Brownback in a state where the GOP has a better than 3-to-2 voter registration advantage and two Democratic governors have never been elected back-to-back.

"Going into it, you know he's going to be a formidable candidate," said state Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat. "We can't kid ourselves."

A similar challenge awaits Democrats in the Senate race. The only Democrat actively campaigning is Charles Schollenberger, a former newspaper reporter and editor from Prairie Village. Among Republicans, U.S. Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt are running.

Sebelius was the party's best potential candidate but never expressed much interest in the race publicly.

Without a popular office holder as the Democratic nominee, party loyalty is traditionally the key factor in an open race, said Bob Beatty, a political scientist at Washburn University of Topeka.

"That default is 'I'll vote for my party, because that's who I am,'" Beatty said.

Sebelius' political success in a GOP-leaning state gave her a national profile, made her a potential vice presidential candidate in 2008 and won her a spot in President Barack Obama's Cabinet. But she was term-limited as governor.

Brownback formally organized his governor's campaign a year ago — three months before Sebelius' confirmation as health and human services secretary. Brownback faces only token opposition in the GOP primary.

If he ran for re-election to the Senate, Brownback probably would not face a strong challenge, and Moran and Tiahrt would stay in the House. But when Brownback first won his Senate seat, he promised not to serve there past 2010.

Some Democrats believe Brownback really is positioning himself for a future run for president after a brief, ill-fated campaign in 2007. Four of the last six presidents were governors first.

Brownback said he sees opportunities as governor — and a need — to position Kansas for sustained economic growth with low-tax and business-friendly policies. But he said his decision to run rests on keeping his promise about term limits.

"I said it, and I meant it," he said, adding that some supporters urged him to forget the promise. "I ran on term limits. I believe in term limits."

Meanwhile, Moran and Tiahrt's runs for the Senate have opened up their seats in the 1st Congressional District of western and central Kansas and the 4th district in south-central Kansas.

The race in the heavily Republican 1st has attracted six GOP candidates and a Democrat who's not given much chance to win, even in his own party. Five Republicans and two Democrats are candidates so far in the 4th, and Democrats have high hopes for their leading contender, state Rep. Raj Goyle of Wichita.

Republicans hope to pick up Moore's seat in the GOP-leaning 3rd, centered on the Kansas City metropolitan area, where six Republicans are campaigning. The only Democrat so far is Elizabeth Gallup, a Lake Quivira doctor, but Kansas City Mayor Joe Reardon and former Mayor Carol Marinovich also have expressed an interest.

The state's only U.S. House incumbent seeking re-election is Republican Lynn Jenkins in the 2nd District of eastern Kansas.


willie_wildcat 8 years, 4 months ago

Well there goes the neighborhood....if there is not a good Democrat nominee Buttback will win which is horrific in thought.

Sparko 8 years, 4 months ago

Maybe they will cut taxes and promote terrorism (they do love them some scared voters). And keep fighting that embarrassing war on science. How's all that GOP working out? Kansas is economically stifled. Culturally a backwater--save for Lawrence, and generally more impoverished every day. Vote stupidity and superstition, rinse, repeat. Demand more. Brownback was at a prayer-fest with tea baggers and dimwit radical religious nuts last week. He is either P.T. Barnum or a total moron. Can't wait to see his "agenda." I would posit that Kansas would be governed better by virtually any other write-in candidate still out of prison. Brownback made Santorum look "deep."

8ball 8 years, 4 months ago

well willie and sparky,instead of just bitching about repubs why dont you run for office,i hear theres an opening

Sparko 8 years, 4 months ago

8ball: there is also a grammatical dictionary.

BlackVelvet 8 years, 4 months ago

the dems are no better than the repubs. either side just bitches and moans about what they see as weakness in the other side. Neither has done diddly to IMPROVE anything in our country in a long long time.

Steve Jacob 8 years, 4 months ago

I can't believe Brownback is still thinking about being President. He did not even make a dent in Iowa, and if he can't do well in a state Huckabee won, where can he win?

willie_wildcat 8 years, 4 months ago

8ball: I am not "bitching" about repubs...Just about certain ones. Why don't you run? I will be voting as I always have in every since election for the past 11 years.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

How to remember the Brownback and his party:

The republican party are masters at putting millions upon millions upon millions of people out of work. All they do with a remarkable degree of consistency is wreck the economy,initiate huge movements of shipping jobs abroad aka the Reagan-Bush Global Economy and try to wreck social security and medicare.

Is there a definite pattern? Absolutely!

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Home Loan Scandal http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  2. The Bush/Cheney Home Loan Scandal http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  3. What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

  4. Why did GW Bush Lie About Social Security?( This would cost taxpayers $4 trillion and wreck the economy) http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html

  5. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

  6. The "tea parties" BTW are part of the wreckanomics program funded by the Koch Brothers... well known oil billionaires. These thinkers back a tax payers bill of rights which is another scheme to reward the upper 1% which is designed to wreck local and state governments.


All of the above displays reckless economic behavior that which drains the cookie jars. Now the only way to get them revenues back is to take them back.

What Reagan,Bush and Bush republicans plan for 2010. Start the typical repub character assassination campaign which in essence is a massive cover-up scheme for the financial disasters that illustrate how the repub NOT financial giants of our time have screwed up USA economics for the past 30 years.

New jobs and industry have never been on their repub minds. New jobs and industry is the ONLY way the USA can regain enough economic strength to be recognized as an economic superpower once again.

Think about it. In the past 30 years the repub party has been in involved two major home loan scandals that effectively took the USA economy down the tubes. One is too damn many but twice represents repub economic policy. Wreckanomics is a failed economic policy. In fact wreckanomics is beginning to smell like well planned crimes.

Sparko 8 years, 4 months ago

Merrill: great post!

I will say this, all this "one party is as bad as the other" is BS. Republican IQ has sunken so far and their corruption and hypocrisy is so manifest, it is almost enough to make anyone doubt the existence of God. There one success. I guess they have been successful in breeding a generation of cynical atheists. Democrats need to grow a spine and confront the mean-spirited morons head on. Make voting matter again.

Sparko 8 years, 4 months ago

Their one success. Yow. At least I can still feel irony. Let's hope 2010 doesn't change that!

BlackVelvet 8 years, 4 months ago

"I will say this, all this “one party is as bad as the other” is BS." What a surprise that someone would say this. Seem to forget the corruption and lies under a certain Democrat President. You're surely entitled to your opinion. I don't happen to share it. I've lived through many president's terms and have seen a lot of "bs" (to use your term) from Dems and Republican administrations.

leedavid 8 years, 4 months ago

Brownback is just going to walk through the doors of the governors office on a cake walk. The dislike for democrats and their policies is growing everyday. The smart members of the Kansas left are leaving office and dropping out of elections. The writing is on the wall.

leedavid 8 years, 4 months ago

Is that possible? Really can Kansas state government get any worse?

Paul R Getto 8 years, 4 months ago

There will be some upheavals, all right....gastric upheavals as thousands puke in the gutters when they realize Senator Sam and his American Taliban are in control of the Kansas. Couple that with our new wizards of Oz, the Koch brothers behind the legislative curtain, and it should be a pretty bleak time. Fortunately, the Gov will use Kansas to launch his next presidential bid; perhaps he won't last a full two terms.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 4 months ago

Paul- why isn't there any strong democrat running against Brownback??? Probally because here is Kansas there isn't any strong Democrat. sebelius won because the Reps voted for a far right canidate (twice), the same for Moore.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm betting that if you look at Brownback's donor's list and Sebelius' donor list the intersection of names would be huge. Both are unprincipled political prostitutes.

Liberty275 8 years, 4 months ago

Merril, your copypasta is a little stale. Do you need to spam it in every thread?

uncleandyt 8 years, 4 months ago

Our Socialist Brownback got $500,000 in government farm subsidies. His prayers to God to stop the healthcare hoax went ignored or denied. There is still time to find a candidate with better connections to Heaven. Some of us here seem to be comfortable being fooled. I will wager that most if not all of the Folks who whine about stale links never bother to check them out. Some of us put a lot of faith in our radio heroes (who also read from teleprompters) to tell us what "the other side" is thinking and saying and writing. Sources are your friend.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"Brownback said he didn't ponder the upheaval from his decision to leave the Senate because it was set long ago by self-imposed term limits, and "I had no idea what would follow.""

As others have pointed out, this is pure horse hockey. He's seeking the governorship simply as a springboard for a presidential campaign, because his performance in the Senate has failed to get any interest from enough big-money donors.

I wouldn't be surprised if he runs in 2012, in which case most sane voters will be hoping that he's allowed to finish destroying Kansas for at least one full term.

63BC 8 years, 4 months ago

Brownback is keeping his word, which he gave in writing more than thirteen years ago. That's all.

Say what you will about his politics, he is an honest man.


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