Brownback rallies party faithful at GOP barbecue

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, Republican candidate for the 2010 governor’s race, speaks to about 150 people at a Leavenworth County Republican Party barbecue Saturday at VFW Park in Tonganoxie.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback called for party unity while speaking at a Leavenworth County Republican Party barbecue Saturday in Tonganoxie.

Brownback, presently the lone candidate for governor in the 2010 race, noted that in the past 50 years, of 11 Kansas governors, six have been Democrats in a predominately red state.

“If Republicans are fighting, we can’t win,” Brownback said to more than 150 people at the event. “If Republicans aren’t fighting, we can’t lose.”

Platform issues

Brownback, running unopposed after fellow Republican and current Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh recently dropped out, also voiced opposition to cap-and-trade legislation. As for energy policy, he said the environment was important, but should be met with “innovation and investment” and not taxation.

As for President Barack Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, Brownback said he opposes Sotomayor because he thinks she legislates from the bench.

“If she wants to be a legislator, run for office,” Brownback said.

Several Republican candidates joined Brownback at the function, including Todd Tiahrt, current U.S. representative who is running for Brownback’s soon-to-be vacant Senate seat, and Kris Kobach and J.R. Claeys, who are running for secretary of state.

Kobach is a former Kansas Republican Party chairman, while Claeys is a Salina businessman. Claeys said he wants to “cut red tape” in Kansas if elected and outlined some of his principles: protecting the unborn, growing the number of jobs in the state and “getting Kansas out of this (economic) slump.”

Kobach, noting he lived just 8 miles from Tonganoxie to the east, said he was running for secretary of state because he wanted to fight voter fraud. He spoke critically of ACORN, a grassroots community advocacy organization of low- and moderate-income people, and the election of Democrat Al Franken as U.S. senator from Minnesota. The Minnesota Supreme Court recently determined Franken the winner of a tightly contested November 2008 race against Republican incumbent Norm Coleman, a nearly eight-month saga complete with a recount.

Election identification

Kobach told the group he would fight for the requirement of providing proof of citizenship at election booths. He said photo identification is required when boarding a plane or buying certain spray paints and medication. He wants the same when trying to combat voter fraud.

A professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kobach kept the mood light with a political joke. He asked what President Obama and God had in common, with the punchline being neither has a birth certificate.

The difference between the two? God only takes 10 percent of a person’s income, Kobach joked.

Tiahrt told Republicans in Tonganoxie he would fight for Kansas jobs if elected to the U.S. Senate and spoke about working in Washington, D.C., or, as he called it, “Disneyland East.”

Jerry Moran, Tiahrt’s opponent in the 2010 Republican primary, could not attend because of a previous engagement, but a Moran staffer was at the event.

A handful of other legislators from Leavenworth County, as well as U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, spoke to the crowd. Jenkins said she was a proud member of the party of “no,” adding she was saying no to “bad legislation.”

She said the country’s condition wasn’t ideal when President Obama took office, adding “I think Republicans spent too much” also. But she’s concerned about the direction the Obama administration and Democrat-controlled Congress has gone in the last six months, “in charge of the whole kit and caboodle.”

Leavenworth County Republican chairman John Bradford said he was impressed with Saturday’s turnout.

“I think it’s fabulous,” Bradford said. “Beyond any of my expectations.”