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Archive for Thursday, November 8, 2012

Kansas Democrats down to 1 legislator from western part of state

November 8, 2012, 10:24 a.m. Updated November 8, 2012, 1:31 p.m.

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— Rep. Jan Pauls of Hutchinson will be the only Democratic member from western Kansas when the 2013 legislative session begins in Topeka after three Democratic incumbents were ousted in this week's elections.

Sen. Allen Schmidt of Hays and Reps. Eber Phelps of Hays and Vincent Wetta of Wellington lost their re-election bids Tuesday, continuing a decline of Democratic representation in western Kansas that began years ago, The Hutchinson News reported.

Overall, Democratic numbers in the Kansas Senate and House will be comparable to last session. There will be eight Democratic senators, the same as the 2012 session, and 32 to 34 seats in the House, depending on the outcome of close races. Before the elections, the House had 33 Democrats.

By comparison, western Kansas had two Democratic state senators and 10 House members in 1998.

Dennis McKinney, a former Greensburg state legislator and state treasurer who lost his bid to return to the House, said most of his party's losses have been in rural areas, where the focus of political campaigns has changed from local issues to national concerns.

In the past, McKinney said, a candidate who was endorsed by the Kansas Livestock Association or the Kansas Farm Bureau often won election. But this year, attack ads spread across the region connected Democratic candidates to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, he said.

Phelps and Wetta also said the negative mailings influenced their races.

"We ran a great campaign until all the negative stuff came out," Wetta said.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said in an email to the News that negative campaigning prevailed.

"The Kansas Chamber and Americans for Prosperity spent heavily in most of these races," Davis wrote.

"I blame the Democratic Party, too," said Wetta, who lost to Rep. Kyle Hoffman, a Republican from Coldwater.

He said he voted against the national health care act and said he thinks the national and state Democratic Party should "take a real long look" at their direction and priorities.

McKinney agreed that to some extent, Democratic leaders have been out of touch with western Kansas. He said Democrats should be more aggressive on moral issues because Republicans are "very adept" at seizing those issues.

Voters often will vote for the party rather than an individual, said Chapman Rackaway, associate professor of political science at Fort Hays State University.

"These personal friendships can be trumped. This isn't student council," Rackaway said.

Comments

headdoctor 1 year, 5 months ago

I keep thinking Western Kansas will wise up by the next election but I doubt they will. They will just blame the liberals for their woes or decide it is God's will. I tend to have a soft spot for the Western 2/3rds of the state. As more time goes by I can't really feel sorry for them anymore. The farther West you get the less there is to even try to salvage.

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gccs14r 1 year, 5 months ago

Western Kansas wonders why it continues to depopulate and collapse economically. Surely 50 years of voting for Republicans can't be wrong....

3

Larrytown 1 year, 5 months ago

Being someone born and raised in far Western Kansas....I shake my head knowing that the vast majority of the people that I grew up with and still live out there...vote a republican (not moderate republican) ticket.

I'm sorry...but the people of small rural communities "absolutely" need the tax dollars that the entire state produces. With more state tax cuts on chopping blocks...small towns will continue to be decimated (i.e. school closings, etc.) as the decades pass. Voting against their own economic interests....I bring you the people of Western Kansas.

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 5 months ago

Pretty soon, western kansas will be down to one legislator period.

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Clearly4Kansas 1 year, 5 months ago

Jan is a follower of Jesus Christ, so her values do reflect Jesus's teaching on life and marriage, but she is also a strong labor advocate - she's very pro-union. So I think she be a democrat until they kick her out. It's crazy that democrats want to run her out of the party.

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Shelley Bock 1 year, 5 months ago

What the Republicans will find is that it is harder to maintain control of a dominant single party than a party which has a majority, but with a vigorous opposition. There will be increasing disunity amongst the dominant party if and when things go badly because there won't be any Democrats who can be blamed. Wait until school districts start closing or consolidating or dropping sports out in Western Kansas because of a lack of funding. Sure won't be able to blame those "evil" Democrats because they don't have any power.

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wastewatcher 1 year, 5 months ago

McKinney whines now, but he was happy to be appointed to a very high paying state job, Treasurer, by the ULTRA LIBERAL SEBELIUS. He now seems to be biting the hand that fed him and fed him very well.

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situveux1 1 year, 5 months ago

And Jan Pauls wouldn't have been returned to office if the Democratic Party had had their way.

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