Archive for Monday, August 5, 2013

Davis seen as possible Democratic opponent to Gov. Brownback

August 5, 2013


Paul Davis is the leader of the Democrats in the Kansas House, but the Lawrence legislator says his proudest moments in the Statehouse have been when he has helped produce bi-partisan coalitions.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, speaks at a news conference in January 2012. Gov. Sam Brownback and then-Acting Transportation Secretary Barbara Rankin look on. The news conference was about accelerating several highway projects. It is one of the few times Davis and Brownback, a Republican, were in agreement. Some are calling on Davis to run against Brownback in the 2014 election. Davis has declined to say if he is running.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, speaks at a news conference in January 2012. Gov. Sam Brownback and then-Acting Transportation Secretary Barbara Rankin look on. The news conference was about accelerating several highway projects. It is one of the few times Davis and Brownback, a Republican, were in agreement. Some are calling on Davis to run against Brownback in the 2014 election. Davis has declined to say if he is running.

"Throughout my career, I have been able to bring Republicans and Democrats together and resolve issues," Davis said.

Davis would need that talent if he wants to be called Governor Davis.

Many have urged him to run against Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and Davis' name is always cited in short lists.

The 2014 election is 15 months away, and for Democrats to mount a credible challenge, the time to get a candidate's name before the general public is soon.

Davis, however, declines to say whether he will run for governor or fill out a governor-lieutenant governor ticket.

"We're going to see a Democratic candidate emerge in the fairly near future," he said.

Running against the wind

The past two election cycles haven't been kind to Democrats.

Several years ago, Kansas was a red state with dash of blue, but it since has ripened to beet red.

Republicans hold all statewide elected offices and congressional seats.

In the Kansas Legislature, Republicans outnumber Democrats 32-8 in the Senate and 92-33 in the House. And moderate Republicans, those who supported increases in public school funding and tax increases to avoid crushing budget cuts during the Great Recession, are an endangered species.

Although polls show Brownback has low job-approval ratings, the political landscape of Kansas puts him in a good position for his re-election campaign. He is well-known and well-funded.

But Davis said Brownback and his conservative allies in the Legislature have overreached.

"I am certainly dissatisfied with the Brownback agenda, like I think many Kansans are. I would like to see a change in the governor's office," Davis said.

Since Brownback took office in January 2011, Davis and Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka have been riding point in making the case against Brownback, a former U.S. Senator who returned to Kansas and easily won election as governor.

Tax policy assailed

During the past three legislative sessions, Davis and Hensley have held numerous news conferences, many of which have focused on Brownback's tax policies.

Brownback has pushed for and signed into law lower income tax rates, elimination of income taxes for nearly 200,000 business owners, removal of and lowering of deductions designed to help low- and middle-income Kansans, and, in the recent session, a sales tax increase to offset some of the lost tax revenue.

Brownback has said the tax changes will improve the economy. Critics say the changes increase the tax burden on the poor while benefitting the wealthy and will lead to budget shortfalls that will hurt schools and social services.

"There is a good deal of dissatisfaction from a number of different angles," Davis said.

Democrats may have a tough time making their argument, said Washburn University Political Science Professor Mark Peterson.

"The real key is if somebody can really lay it out there that we have sacrificed our quality education, and reduced services to the neediest of Kansans, turned a blind eye to the inevitability of the national health care system, and we have nothing to show in terms of economic growth.

"Absent the ability to make those arguments, I see the power of incumbency and the solidarity of the political system that Sam has put in place will carry the day," Peterson said.

Davis would need moderate Republicans

As far as a Davis candidacy, Peterson said while the minority leader may be known in northeast Kansas, he's probably not too well known in Wichita and western Kansas.

"The real prospect of defeating Brownback comes down to whether the moderate Republicans can create an insurgency," he said.

Several times in his legislative career, Davis, an attorney, has helped put together groups of moderate Republicans and Democrats that passed major legislation.

In 2010, Democrats and moderate Republicans composed a state budget after House GOP leaders couldn't muster enough votes for their budget proposal.

But Davis was also minority leader when House Democrats lost a record 16 seats in the 2010 election. Davis said he thinks that had more to do with Kansans angry at President Barack Obama.

Davis said he is proud of the fact that House Democrats held their own in 2012 and he predicted they will pick up seats in 2014.

Davis interested in politics at an early age

Davis, 41, is married and has a 3 1/2-year-old daughter. His wife, Stephanie, works as a psychologist, who specializes in the trauma treatment of homeless veterans.

Davis became minority leader in 2008 when the effects of the Great Recession were starting to be felt in the state budget.

He was first elected to the House in 2003 when then-state Rep. Troy Findley, D-Lawrence, went to work for then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Democratic Party officials chose Davis for Findley's seat over Marci Francisco, who later was elected to the Kansas Senate.

Before becoming a legislator, Davis had worked for the Kansas Bar Association and for the Kansas Department of Insurance when Sebelius was insurance commissioner.

Davis said he got interested in politics as a student at Lawrence High School, and later served a legislative internship with Hensley. When he was growing up, politics were often discussed at the dinner table with his father, Ray, who was an associate professor at the Kansas University School of Public Affairs and Administration, and mother, Kathy, a second-grade teacher.

After graduating Lawrence High School, Davis went to KU and studied political science, but before he graduated he took time off from school to work on the failed gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Jim Slattery.

"That was a terrific experience," he said. "I really enjoyed the rush of a political campaign."

After Slattery's bid against Republican Bill Graves in 1994, Davis finished at KU and then went to law school at Washburn University.

Although Davis won't say whether he is running for governor, he dismisses the logic that a candidate from "liberal Lawrence" would have trouble getting votes in other parts of the state.

"I think that Lawrence is no different than other communities. People here are concerned about jobs and taxes and their public schools," he said.


Stuart Sweeney 4 years, 6 months ago

I would hope the people of Kansas are smart enough to elect a dogcatcher rather than reelect King Sam, sad to say I doubt it.

Claudean McKellips 4 years, 6 months ago

Paul Davis would make a great Kansas Governor!

Dan Rose 4 years, 6 months ago

Let's get it done, Paul - my vote is in the mail! Let's pull out of Brownbackistan...


jhawkinsf 4 years, 6 months ago

The time for the Democrats to put a name forward so that that person might mount a credible challenge has passed. However, there is still time for the Democrats to put forth the name of a sacrificial lamb.

Why is it that the words of Will Rogers come to mind; "I'm not a member of an organized political party. I'm a Democrat"?

frank mcguinness 4 years, 6 months ago

If you are a liberal in Kansas you have a better shot at ousting Brownback by working to elect a moderate republican than you do with Davis. Just telling it like it is.

average 4 years, 6 months ago

If a Praeger/Schodorf (or vice-versa) ticket were in the works, I'd work to elect it. It isn't. The moderate Republicans are d.e.a.d-dead.

avarom 4 years, 6 months ago

Any suggestion for a good moderate republican??

Joe Hyde 4 years, 6 months ago

The Democrat candidate for governor might give thought to asking a well-known moderate Republican to be the lieutenant governor running mate. Pick one of the many respected moderates who fell victim to the Brownback Purge, or an outspoken moderate still in office who survived that purge.

By now everyone understands that the right wing Koch-Brownback regime rejects and despises the open and fair governing methods favored by moderate Republicans and Democrats. Therefore, voters across the state will be neither confused nor surprised if these two targeted groups joined forces to undertake the necessary task of returning Kansas to a functioning democracy.

tomatogrower 4 years, 6 months ago

The enabled, like the business owners who no longer pay state income taxes, but expect the same level of service from the state, like educated workers, good roads, etc.

bad_dog 4 years, 6 months ago

I'd rather have a shoe-shiner than a boot licker as Governor. One implies self-help. The other? Not so much.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 6 months ago

Who is the Libertarian Party candidate for governor of Kansas?

Kathy Theis-Getto 4 years, 6 months ago

Oh, come on, Liberty. What smart info did you learn from this votesmart website?

Liberty275 4 years, 6 months ago

Brownback and Davis are wrong about abortion.

BlackVelvet 4 years, 6 months ago

Why did the dems wait so long to pick an opponent to brownback? Not smart at all. Should have started this as soon as sam was elected.

bad_dog 4 years, 6 months ago

Yep, more blood for the already red-handed...

Michael Throop 4 years, 6 months ago

I will state what I have about elections generally..your candidate may have overall low approval ratings, but all you have to do is get a majority of the minority of those who like him to the polls, and others stay home. You win.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 6 months ago

Paul Davis does not support concealed carry.

As much as I dislike crooks like Brownback, Democrats have not shown that they can be trusted either.

I would suggest that Paul Davis not waste his money. He won't get elected.

Sparko 4 years, 6 months ago

I am hoping that Brownback has the sense to retire in Missouri. Epically bad. OMG he has been such a Koch surrogate.

UltimateGrownup 4 years, 6 months ago

So, the LJWorld nominates Davis. The larger question remains. Why would anyone anywhere ever vote for a Democrat? The Democrats are responsible for Obamacare, which is essentially an effort to make health care worse and more expensive. The Democratic Party has a horrible record on civil rights and believes that most of society's wealth should go to the government -- an entity that does not produce goods or services.

leaningleftist 4 years, 6 months ago

Really a entity that doesn't provide services. I guessing you hate education and don't drive on roads among other things. Way to be a "patriot"

UltimateGrownup 4 years, 6 months ago

Leaningleftist, thanks for helping me make my point. A majority of road dollars are wasted. Projects tend to be open air block parties for "workers" until the week before the deadline. Public schools are consistently inferior to private schools. Democrat heavies generally send their kids to private schools (e.g., the Clintons and the Obamas), as they know this as well as you and I know it. Meanwhile, the private sector efficiently produces virtually everything for which you are willing to pay.

leaningleftist 4 years, 6 months ago

True but not all are as fortunate to send their children to private schools. This current administration has an agenda to not fund schools and then claim that they claim the system doesn't work. Lets get a gov that will fund the schools and then see if that fixes the problem. Lets give our teachers the resources they need and stop making them out to be villains. I went to public schools way back when education wasn't on the chopping block and teachers weren't the enemy, you get what you pay for and this governor hasn't done anything but strip our children of their right to an education. The answer isn't to privatize education because you do get what you pay for and the less fortunate will suffer. As for the roads I may be wrong but one thing kansas does have going for it is its roads and highways , although Lawrence roads suck. Privatize only favors the haves and punishes the have nots

Lisa Medsker 4 years, 6 months ago

So, UG, what I'm reading here is that nobody other than those who can afford it should be educated? Wow. Hope I NEVER have to see the results of that generation running things.

leaningleftist 4 years, 6 months ago

And for the record I don't have children and have no problem with my tax dollars to fund someone else child. I make next to nothing but I know with and educated population it benefits us all, and people like brownbackwards would never get into public office

patkindle 4 years, 6 months ago

my guess is sometime, some one must have voted for brownback

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago


About 1/3 of the eligible voters in KS voted for him.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 6 months ago

Someone has to be sacrificed against Brownback. The Democrats also need one for Pat Roberts.

Nikonman 4 years, 6 months ago

Davis says Lawrence is no different than other communities. You're kidding , right?

BigDog 4 years, 6 months ago

hmmmmmm ..... pro-abortion, anti-gun rights, tax and spender vs. pro-life, gun rights supporter, tax reducer who looks for government efficiencies

Best shot Democrats have is a more western or southeast Kansas Democrat ....not a Lawrence Democrat

Lisa Medsker 4 years, 6 months ago

"Pro-abortion"? Wow. That's pretty extreme. I've never, EVER heard of anyone being forced to have an abortion that didn't want one. I have, however, known of many mothers forced to give birth to children they didn't want and couldn't support. So you believe that Paul Davis would force everyone to have abortions, being "pro", and all? Or did you mean "pro-choice"? There is quite a distinction...

Liberty275 4 years, 6 months ago


I'm pro-abortion.

"Or did you mean "pro-choice"?"

Libertarians are pro-choice on everything.

Clearly4Kansas 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm sure Paul Davis is a good guy, but he's gonna get crushed by the machine Brownback has built. His political career will be over so I hope the President has a federal job promised to him in exchange for this death wish. I understand Detroit is nice most of the time.

Armored_One 4 years, 6 months ago

If I had the financial capacity to run any sort of a campaign, namely just affording the filing fee, I'd toss my name in the hat. I'd enjoy challenging Brownback to a debate. Not being a politician myself, I have no reason to lie, so any answer I gave would be an honest one.

How hard can it be to balance a budget? Working class stiffs do it all the time. Part of the problem is that it is all theoretical numbers. Until the end of the year rolls around, no one knows exactly how much money the state will have. Granted, by then, it will have been blown through like a teenager with his/her first paycheck.

I know I'd lose, and probably lose badly, but just once, I'd enjoy calling the fool a liar to his face.

Paul R Getto 4 years, 6 months ago

Get a billion dollars to counter the Kochs and he has a chance. Good voter turnout would also help.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 6 months ago

I watched a documentary on NetFlix last night called,"The Billionaires Tea Party". I found myself wondering how average Americans have any chance at all against these powerful and politically entrenched people who are deceiving the American people.

If the Democrats could adopt a more conservative stance regarding issues such as gun control, I think they would have a chance to win in this state.

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