Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Statehouse Live: Political observers say Kansas Democrats hurting bad

December 1, 2010


— Five longtime political observers said Wednesday the recent election in Kansas was a stunning setback for Democrats, social conservatives have taken over the Republican Party, and Gov.-elect Sam Brownback will be judged on how he governs in this politically charged atmosphere.

During a discussion at Washburn University, Kansas University professor Burdett Loomis, Kansas State University professor Joe Aistrup, Wichita State University professor Ed Flentje and Washburn professors Mark Peterson and Bob Beatty, dissected the last election and what the results may mean for Kansas.

Republicans easily won all statewide and congressional races and gained 16 seats in the Kansas House to take a 92-33 advantage in that chamber. The GOP already has a 31-9 margin in the Senate.

Loomis said the Democratic losses sent the party back to the 1950s. But Aistrup said it was worse for the Democrats. "I think they are back in the stone ages," he said.

The GOP wave, including Brownback, a Republican U.S. senator who has been in Congress the past 16 years, puts the party at center stage.

Flentje said despite Brownback's social conservative credentials, he will be judged in his new job on how he handles public school finance, higher education and Medicaid.

"He'll be judged on things that he has never been judged on before," Flentje said.

Peterson said social conservatives will get many of their issues passed through the Legislature, such as tighter abortion regulations. But he said conservatives shouldn't overplay their hand.

"You have a very unhappy, grumpy electorate," he said.

The group said Brownback, who has had presidential ambitions, and conservatives in the Legislature should be careful not to overreach.

Flentje said Brownback has had three political lives. When he was state agriculture commissioner he was considered a progressive, then he went to Congress as a fiscal conservative but found he couldn't stop federal spending. He then became a social conservative "wearing his faith in the public square and aligning himself with a series of congressional actions to essentially expand the role of faith in the public square," he said.

But Flentje said as governor, Brownback needs to focus on governing and administering.

"I think because he will have 92 Republicans (in the House), there is going to be a significant number of those folks that will start making Brownback look like a moderate," he said. Some House Republicans have called for repeal of the 1-cent sales tax increase that was approved by Democrats and moderate Republicans during the last legislative session. Brownback, however, has said he doesn't want to repeal the increase.

Loomis said Brownback cannot make Kansas a "social conservative paradise" if he has national aspirations. "I honestly think that he does want to be president and he has to be seen as a success," Loomis said. Brownback ran for president in the 2008 cycle but didn't get much traction and dropped out of the race.

The professors said Democrats were the victims of an energized Republican electorate. They pointed to State Treasurer Dennis McKinney, a conservative Democrat, as an example of a candidate who was steam-rolled by Kansas voters unhappy with national politics.

Aistrup said the Democrats had weak candidates at the top of the ticket. Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat who decided not to run, may not have won but he could have provided some help to the downballot statewide candidates, he said. "They needed a good old-fashioned Kansas windbreak at the top," he said.

Beatty said some of the Democratic candidates were too slow to respond to charges made in TV ads by outside groups.


CorkyHundley 3 years, 4 months ago

The Democrat clan rammed the Dude's medical surprise down the throats of non believers and bitter clingers proclaim opposition as extreme right partisanship while kowtowing the mythical "centrist politician" excuse to enhance their leftist guerilla methods.

The clan's methods are not partisan. Opposition to them is though.


wastewatcher 3 years, 4 months ago

This is the legacy of the ULTRA LEFT WINGERS = SEBELIUS AND HER CROWD. There is no room in this Sebelius led left wing party for the traditional Docking democrat. It is their way or the hiway. SEBELIUS< HENSLEY< DAVIS<GATES AND CROWD need to be gone and the sooner the better.


Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 3 years, 4 months ago

It's pretty clear that the Obama administration has destroyed the Kansas Democrat Party (as well as others in other states) with his tone deaf political agenda. One can only hope that Hillary will challenge him in 2012 and bring the party back to a middle ground that's more acceptable to the majority of Americans.


Jimo 3 years, 4 months ago

I see little long term change. As usual, if (a) the extremists in the GOP push too far and (2) Democrats can put forward a strong candidate, then the Republican-wing of the Republican Party will side with and elect the Democratic candidate. We've seen this repeated again and again. The prime limitation of this model isn't in a shortage of GOP extremism but rather strong Democratic candidates.


autie 3 years, 4 months ago

As a life long Democrat, I feel just fine. A little stiff in the knee but fine.

"Loomis said the Democratic losses sent the party back to the 1950s. But Aistrup said it was worse for the Democrats. "I think they are back in the stone ages," he said.

It is not the democratic party in the stone ages. It will be the entire state once the social conservatives start in with their expansions of faith based government. It won't last but one term as Kansas historically doesn't put up with BS for long, despite the previous populism and phalse prophets that go with it. Jeez..I can't believe ole Brownie is dusting off Shallenburger...what a bad move.


kansastruthteller 3 years, 4 months ago

Dems recently criticized the Republicans for voting against Obama on a variety of legislative issues and negatively characterized them as the "party of no." So, I fully expect the dems to vote for everything Brownback proposes because to do otherwise would be hypocritical; they don't want to be the party of "no" do they?


Centerville 3 years, 4 months ago

That's what raising taxes will do for you.


consumer1 3 years, 4 months ago

Of course these weak kneed liberal leftist will say this mindless drivel. They are expected to. It is what the far left wants to hear. This liberal paper will be full of whining for the next year or more. "snff snff, he won't let me play with his team! Waaaaaaaaaaaa ". 'Change the laws for me, cause I didn't get chosen! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa".


ksrush 3 years, 4 months ago

What kind of social legislation ?

Seroius and unconstitutional restrictions of funding - go on explain

defendent is actually spelled defendant

Come on dog


olddognewtrix 3 years, 4 months ago

Brownback won't be able to resist the neanderthal wing of his party and there will be draconian "social " legislation passed and signed , along with serious and unconstitutional restrictions of funding for education. The result will be that Kansas will be the defendent in numerous Federal Court Cases on serious major constitutional issues. The cost of the litigation will be huge and the likely Federal Court holdings embarassing and hazardous to Republican hegeomonyThe new Attorney General wil be crying "Uncle"


Phillbert 3 years, 4 months ago

You don't need to be a political observer with a PhD to see that Kansas Democrats are hurting. Too bad Kansas is going to be hurting after the conservative Republicans have their run of things.


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