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.


jayhawklawrence 8 months, 2 weeks 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.


Paul R Getto 8 months, 2 weeks ago

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


Armored_One 8 months, 2 weeks 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.


Clearly4Kansas 8 months, 2 weeks 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.


BigDog 8 months, 2 weeks 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


Nikonman 8 months, 2 weeks ago

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


Steve Jacob 8 months, 2 weeks ago

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


BABBOY 8 months, 2 weeks ago

What fun thread.

Paul Davis would make a great Governor. People seem to get that republicans have lost control of their senses.

My point is if you want to have type of school that is worth going to, want to have a State that supports its middle class and working citizens, then Brownback has to go. Brownback has successfully gotten votes off religious issues, gun issues, saying he is cutting spending when the reality he just gave breaks to the rich and removed regulations on big business so they can do whatever they want, and so on. Lots of people have figured this out. But, far to many care more about their guns (which are not in jeopardy -- it is flipping Kansas) then voting to protect their own class structure and wealth and rights as a worker in this messed up State..... Brownback knows that stupidity and that is why might get elected by playing to red necks who hate minorities and liberals, the confused Fox News watchers, and the religious nuts.

I am sure not voting for Brownback...


patkindle 8 months, 2 weeks ago

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


UltimateGrownup 8 months, 2 weeks 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.


Sparko 8 months, 2 weeks ago

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


jayhawklawrence 8 months, 2 weeks 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.


monkfellow 8 months, 2 weeks 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.


Larry Moss 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes! Another lamb for the slaughter.


BlackVelvet 8 months, 2 weeks 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.


consumer1 8 months, 2 weeks ago

No surpise here, he has been he has been shining his shoes for this for several months. I don't like what Brownback has done. But, there is no reason to go extreme and steal even more money from the middle class, which is exactly what he will do by increasing the debt to enable the already enabled folks who ride the welfare train. When will we ever elect somenoe as a Govenor who will empower the working class instead of stealing from them to pay for the whims of the rich (brownback) or the bums (Davis) of Kansas?


Joe Hyde 8 months, 2 weeks 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.


rooster 8 months, 2 weeks 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.


jhawkinsf 8 months, 2 weeks 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"?


Dan Rose 8 months, 2 weeks ago

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



Claudean McKellips 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Paul Davis would make a great Kansas Governor!


Les Blevins 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Dear Rep. Paul Davis:

You say your proudest moments in the Statehouse were when you’ve helped produce bi-partisan coalitions.

Consider this;

Over 90% of Democrat voters are in favor of Congress passing legislation that prioritizes clean energy. In fact, over 75% of Republican voters are in favor of the exact same thing. Clearly, the will of the American people is being frustrated by special interests. Interests we know are entrenched right here in Kansas.

Consider this;

Lawrence (your home town) has an opportunity to show the nation and the world how clean energy can replace fossil energy and create numerous good paying jobs; but in Kansas fossil energy interests are blocking this much needed development by having their own man sitting in the Governor’s Mansion enjoying the good life as he taps into benefits formerly designated for the poor to benefit his wealthy backers. I think Kansans are increasingly sickened by this display of arrogance and lack of compassion in the Kansas State House.


Stuart Sweeney 8 months, 2 weeks 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.


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