Archive for Saturday, November 3, 2012

GOP taking aim at Dems

Voters at Drury Place Apartments fill out ballots during late afternoon voting Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010.

Voters at Drury Place Apartments fill out ballots during late afternoon voting Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010.

November 3, 2012


Voters on Tuesday will elect leaders from the White House to the Statehouse and beyond.

Topped by the presidential tussle between Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the ballot will also feature the race between U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, and Democrat Tobias Schlingensiepen, of Topeka, for the 2nd Congressional District, which has been newly configured to include all of Lawrence and Douglas County.

In addition, voters in the area will decide a number of local contests, the State Board of Education, District 4 matchup and even a constitutional amendment giving the Legislature the authority to tax boats at a lower rate.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

In Kansas, the presidential race has gotten little attention, since it is a pretty safe bet Romney will win the state by a hefty margin.

So, much of the political activity over the past few months has centered on the state legislative races.

In those races, conservative Republicans are hoping to duplicate against Democrats what they did to moderate Republicans in the primary election.

Led by Gov. Sam Brownback and fueled with big donations from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the billionaire Koch brothers and others, the conservatives defeated a slew of moderate Republican incumbents this summer.

Heading into Tuesday, Democrats were already outnumbered in the House 92-33 after a record loss of seats in 2010, and Senate Republicans held a 32-8 advantage. The same forces are at work in the general election against Democrats.

Joe Aistrup, a political science professor at Kansas State University, predicted Democrats will probably lose more seats in the Senate, and if they make gains in the House, they will be small.

That means that over the next two years, Brownback, who has already signed into law massive tax cuts and record school funding cuts, will be able to reshape state government further.

“We are going to see fundamental changes in the nature of state government,” Aistrup said. “It will take us back to the 1960s, when state government was more limited in terms of focus. That is what Brownback ran on and that is the vision he plans to implement.”

With Obama at the top of the ticket, Democrats face long odds.

“It’s just a big, huge gale-force wind that these Democrats are bumping up against,” Aistrup said.

Conservatives in Kansas have “nationalized” the election, attempting to link moderate Republicans and Democrats in state legislative races to Obamacare and the national debt.

For the past two election cycles in Kansas, conservatives have made huge gains by getting voters “thinking they are voting against national forces,” said Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University.

And, he said, the impact of groups such as the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity, which doesn’t have to divulge its campaign finances, has been great for conservative candidates.

He said the harbinger of this wave came in 2008 when Jenkins defeated incumbent Democrat Nancy Boyda. Boyda was seen as a moderate Democrat who spent an enormous amount of time in the district holding town-hall meetings. “She gets beat by being linked to national Democrats,” Beatty said.

Democrats in state legislative races aren’t throwing in the towel. They are trying to keep the voters focused on state issues, criticizing Republican opponents as being in support of the Brownback tax cuts, which they say will lead to cuts in school funding and social services while benefiting mostly wealthy Kansans.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said he expected an unprecedented amount of money spent for Republican candidates “who will support Sam Brownback’s agenda to use cuts to public education and social services to finance his irresponsible tax cuts.”

Brownback has vowed to protect school funding and core state services, but Democrats say the enormity of the tax cut will force cuts to services and costs onto local governments. They point to the facts that the Brownback administration has directed state agencies to submit budget proposals that include a 10 percent cut and Brownback has not ruled out extending a temporary sales tax increase.

The state is decreasing its individual income tax rates for 2013, with the top rate dropping to 4.9 percent from 6.45 percent. Also, the state will exempt the owners of 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses from income taxes.

In addition, some tax credits and programs aimed at helping low-income Kansans were eliminated by the massive tax cutting plan.

Brownback has said the tax cuts will boost the economy and create jobs and that his administration will propose the necessary adjustments to state spending.

In local legislative races, the tax cuts have been at the forefront.

State Sens. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, Hensley and state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, voted against the tax cuts. Democrats had proposed property tax cuts instead.

Francisco’s opponent, Republican Ron Ellis said he is concerned that the Brownback tax cuts were too deep. Holland’s opponent, state Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, voted for the tax cuts, and Hensley’s opponent, Republican Casey Moore, said he would like to cut taxes further. Republican Patrick Bengtson, who is challenging Ballard, said he also opposed the tax cuts.

In the race to represent House District 10, Democrat John Wilson of Lawrence said he opposed the tax cuts, while Republican Erica Anderson of Baldwin City said she supported them.


Centerville 5 years, 6 months ago

Nice try, Hensley. K-12 funding has gone up every year, including teach of the 40 that you've been in office.

Brock Masters 5 years, 6 months ago

Hensley side stepped every question in the chat forum. How can you trust him when he won't answer direct questions with direct answers.

5 years, 6 months ago

"The same forces are at work in the general election against Democrats."

Yes, but. The problem is that once you already control three out of every four seats, the ones you don't control are that way not because the other party has the votes there. The GOP house had a huge 2010, picking up almost 15 seats and putting Conservatives in almost every one of them. While 20-ish years ago, Kansas had a Dem Governor and a Dem House (albeit the vote was 63-62), today we have a GOP governor and the GOP has taken literally half the house seats the Dems once had. It's huge.

Because Brownback was all but unopposed on the top of the ballot, and because the GOP won all the statewide seats and all the congressional seats, that was probably as good as it gets for the GOP. No pendulum swings forever, especially when your carefully-crafted district maps are negated by the courts.

Lots of reasons will probably be advanced to explain why, though Romney won huge, the Kansas GOP still lost seats, but the fact is that once you are as high as you can get, the only place to go is down.

lgrant 5 years, 6 months ago

IF the conservatives win like they did in 2010 and the 2012 primary, we can only hope the pendulum has hit its highest peak. When the dust settles after this election, the citizens of Kansas may begin to see what they have done to themselves. But hope springs eternal, vote democratic and watch the pendulum on the downward turn toward sense and bipartisanship. The lies the Kansans for Liberty, Kook brothers, State Chamber and Americans for Prosperity (their own) surely will bring some karma somewhere along the line.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 6 months ago

The best representation we have had in Douglas County was Dennis Moore, a Democrat.

Congressman Moore always answered my questions and attended to my problems that needed attention.

Mr Yoder has been a big zero in my estimate. He was eledted by the mindless clueless Kansas voterswith the flawed notion that tthe GOP has something special for Kansas citizens.

My only hope is that with the re-election of Barak Obama this Tuesday that Kansas voters will be nullified to the point that they will remain insignificant in national agendas and policies.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 6 months ago

note the ref to the Koch brothers, to subtley feed the left's paranoid delusions once again while of course totally ignoring that it balances the KNEA (far left crazy teachers union) and other union donation and manipulation of the political process, Hensly being prime example.

will Hensley get voted out this time, I sincerely hope so.

obviously, I am glad for the trend observed in this article. government looses money and interferes with jobs and business. less of it means more work and more prosperity.
brownback of course recognizes that there is a necessary safetynet for people who truly cannot work and who truly need help.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 6 months ago

State GOPers would LOVE to blame Obamacare on state Democrats. Here's the thing though: state legislatures have absolutely NO control over the Affordable Care Act other than how it is implemented in their state. They could not vote for or against it. It's here to stay with the Supreme court vote. This is a straw man tactic to take vote away from the local Dems. Brownback's tax cuts will not help the economy or the creation of jobs. The wealthy will pocket the extra cash as will business owners. Brownback has not supported school funding. He has only put the cost on local taxpayers and the school districts individually. The Koch brothers and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce don't want to give you a job or fund schools so your child can get an education. They want you to be brainwashed and uneducated so they have cheap labor. So please, vote for the candidates that will fund our schools. Vote for the candidates that have represented this area for years. Vote for the candidates that answer your questions and take your views to Topeka and Washington (and also Lawrence for the Douglas County races).

GMSkarka 5 years, 6 months ago

...and when the GOP policies turn Kansas even into more of a third-world hole, they'll turn around and blame the condition of the state on Democrats, and convince the hayseeds to keep voting for them.

They just have to wrap it in enough Jeebus, and it'll be swallowed.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

I'd like to combine good ideas from both sides, and minimize/exclude the bad ones.

Seems to me that there should be a pretty large group of Americans who would welcome that, given the frustrations with both the D and R these days.

Why is that channel on so much in your house?

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