Archive for Saturday, August 9, 2014

GOP Strategy in Kansas: It’s all about Obama

August 9, 2014


— President Barack Obama won't be on the ballot in November. But as far as the Kansas Republican Party is concerned, he might as well be.

Up and down the ticket, from races for Congress and governor, to state insurance commissioner and even the Kansas Legislature, Republican candidates are focusing on one message: They oppose Obama's agenda, and they want voters to know that Democrats support it.

That message was made clear Thursday when the Republican Governors Association released an independent ad against the Democratic candidate for governor, Paul Davis. Obama's face appears on the screen throughout the 30-second spot, often juxtaposed with pictures of Davis, and it mentions Obama more times than it mentions Davis.

“Don't delegate Kansas to an Obama liberal,” the announcer says at the end.

Democrats say they're not worried about the strategy, and they say it may even be risky for Republican Gov. Sam Brownback who, according to one poll released in February, had a worse job approval rating in Kansas than Obama had – 33 percent for Brownback compared to 34 percent for Obama, according to the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

“This is a classic diversionary tactic,” said Fort Hays State University political science professor Chapman Rackaway, who studies Kansas politics. “Obama is not popular, but not drastically less popular than Brownback. He's got to find someone to elevate himself against.”

Chris Pumpelly, spokesman for the Davis campaign, said he believes it's a sign that Brownback is weak, and he pointed to the primary election results in which Brownback won renomination, but lost 37 percent of the GOP vote to a little-known candidate, Jennifer Winn, who raised and spent less than $14,000.

“This is just another example of the governor and his big-money allies trying to change the conversation to anything but Kansas. Because if it's about Kansas, he loses the election,” Pumpelly said.

Still, speaking with reporters as election returns were coming in Tuesday night, Brownback stuck to his anti-Obama message.

“I still think what is going to be the focus this fall is, I'm a Reagan-style Republican and my opponent Paul Davis is an Obama-style Democrat,” Brownback said.

And Republicans clearly believe their anti-Obama theme can work beyond just the governor's race.

At a post-primary GOP rally in Topeka Wednesday, Brownback introduced Ken Selzer, the Republican nominee for insurance commissioner.

“Ken, I look forward to working with you to get rid of Obamacare,” he told a cheering crowd. “This is a guy that's opposed to Obamacare in the insurance commissioner's office.”

And even in state legislative races, independent groups of all stripes have used Obama as a way to define one candidate or the other.

In the 99th District in Wichita, for example, the Kansas Chamber's political action committee mailed out fliers in support of conservative Rep. Dennis Hedke, saying he, “has fought Obamacare at the state level,” and “has opposed efforts by Obama's Kansas Democrats to take more of your money by raising taxes and increasing spending.”

Another mail piece from the Chamber PAC attacked Hedke's moderate Republican opponent, saying, “Randy Banwart will rubber stamp the Obama agenda.”

And even one left-leaning group, the Kansas Values Institute, mailed postcards in that same race, trying to tie Hedke to Obama-style politics.

“Hedke voted in the middle of the night to pass a bill he never read – the same way Congress passed Obamacare,” one postcard read.

“While our families were suffering under the burden of Obamacare and rising property taxes, Dennis Hedke was living high on the hog,” read another, referring to extra pay some legislators received for the extended session in 2013, and the amount various lobbyists reported spending for Hedke on meals and entertainment.

“Apparently left groups are even telling folks to run against Obama,” Rackaway said. “That is fascinating. And it makes sense. Obama is a decidedly unpopular figure in this state.”

He also said the strategy is not unprecedented. He noted that Democrats nationally used the same tactic in many races in 2006, tying Republican opponents to then-President George W. Bush, whose job approval ratings were even lower than Obama's in the final two years of his administration.


James Howlette 3 years, 7 months ago

Imaginary Obama killed the Kansas economy with all of Brownback's tax cuts, Imaginary Obama got Kansas' bond rating downgraded, and Imaginary Obama grew the number of uninsured Kansans the most out of all the states when Brownback privatized our functioning system and refused to expand Medicaid.

I think the best way to save Kansas from Imaginary Obama is to vote out the guy who keeps blaming his imaginary friend every time he gets into trouble.

Steve King 3 years, 7 months ago

Oh and don't forget the population decline, 10,000 smart ones left the state. Afraid the President was going to march on Kansas.

Daniel Kennamore 3 years, 7 months ago

I was one of those. The thought of Obama invading literally kept me up at night. I'm now sleeping much better in the stronger economy of Colorado.

Ralph Reed 3 years, 7 months ago

Are you sure that's the only reason you left for CO?

James Howlette 3 years, 7 months ago

Imaginary Obama takes all your guns away and replaces them with Folger's Crystals.

Larry Sturm 3 years, 7 months ago

It is time for the people in Kansas to get rid of the racists in Topeka.

Paul R Getto 3 years, 7 months ago

Should be interesting, bloody, and probably close if the D's get their ground game running well. This will not be decided on the airwaves.

Renee Patrick 3 years, 7 months ago

Obama is powerful. He owns all the liberals in Kansas. The Kochs can't even claim to own all the conservatives in Kansas.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 7 months ago

I am a liberal, and no one owns me, no one. As for the politicians in Kansas you need to follow the money. The Kochs, the Chamber of Commerce, and ALEC own Brownback and company. They could care less about what you think. They could care less if you have a job. They could care less if your kids get an education. They worship money. They really could care less about abortion, except it gets one issue voters to vote for them. They could care less about gun control for the same reason. In fact, if they ever gained too much power, you would see all kinds of gun control, so they could protect themselves and their power. Power and greed is all they really care about, not God, not family, and not you.
They will tell you about how cutting taxes will trickle down to the middle class and poor by creating jobs and raises. Over and over again that has not worked. It has only further concentrated the wealth at the top. An owner of a major pizza chain at least is being honest. He doesn't think that he is obliged to share his profits, either gained by more pizza sales or by paying fewer taxes with his employees. A FOX news business analyst berated Walgreens for staying headquartered in the US and paying their taxes, instead of taking it out of the country. Most corporations want the money you give them, but they don't want to pay to maintain the infrastructure or even pay taxes that subsidize their low paid workers with food stamps. Then they tell you to make fun and look down on their workers for having food stamps.

And what exactly has changed that much about your life, since Obama became president. You've been forced to buy insurance? Horrors. How dare he make you do something responsible. You should be able to bum health care from the rest of us if you want, right? You should have the right to be mistreated and ripped off by insurance companies, right? And consumer protection. We know that corporations are really good, upstanding people who would never do anything bad to their customers in order to make more profit. Ha, profit is their one and only god, and how people who profess to be Christians can follow this new god and not be considered hypocrites is beyond me. Oh, he made government contractors raise their minimum wage, if they wanted to continue to do business with the government. Sorry, it's cutting into your almighty god - profit.

This is my rant for today, I have work to do.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

Obama does not live in Kansas and congressional GOP 's have spent 6 years trying to make Obama a one term president….in addition to the Bush/Cheney home loan scandal.

Then this beltway politician gets elected to Governor in Kansas and he brought Supply Side Wreckanomics with him. How has that fared?

Brownback Tax Cuts Now Full Blown Disaster for Kansas

Who are the Fiscal Conservatives? Democrats it appears.

With Missouri revenues down and special-interest tax breaks looming, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is responsibly playing the fiscal conservative.

He recently vetoed or froze almost $800 million of state spending, challenging Republican lawmakers to sustain his vetoes of the costly tax breaks they awarded this year to selected companies and industries. If that happens, Nixon will restore much of the frozen funds.

Meanwhile, Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback appears far less worried about that state’s fiscal situation — even though it’s far more dire than Missouri’s.

Read more here:

Kansas Ruinous Tax Cuts – New York Times

Worker's taxes siphoned off by their bosses -

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

Standard & Poor’s downgrades Kansas bond rating

A second bond rating agency has downgraded Kansas’ standing because of declining revenues following massive income tax cuts signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Standard & Poor’s on Wednesday morning reduced the state’s credit rating a notch to AA from AA+, citing a structural imbalance between revenues and spending in the state’s budget.

The bond rating agency said the state’s failure to match the income tax cuts with reductions in spending will leave the state with dangerously low reserves.

Analysts projected that the state could burn through its reserves this fiscal year, putting more pressure on lawmakers to cut the budget.

In May, Moody’s Investors Service cited similar concerns when it reduced the state’s bond rating one level because of mounting financial pressure on the Kansas state budget, partly because of the income tax cuts.

But Moody’s warned that cutting spending might not be easy given the court-ordered spending on schools, keeping up with Medicaid demands and funding pensions.

Read more here:

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 7 months ago

Oh goodness, no. No one owns you, Dorothy. That was a left wing screed if I ever saw one.

James Howlette 3 years, 7 months ago

Imaginary Obama uses mind control devices he had secretly implanted in insurance forms and recycling bins.

John Sheppard 3 years, 7 months ago


Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 7 months ago

Wow, you guys beat me to it!! Sure, they need Obama as a target, they have no other policy to follow!! The state is in financial crisis due to the Koch Regime owned Kansas Government. The governor and his henchmen have cowed and bowed to the mighty billions and are owned lock, stock and barrel by the two Wichita billionaires. The racist element of the electorate has triumphed here and elsewhere. There was a newsrag in New York last week that actually had the gall to print the "n" word in a headline. And yet, no one can tell you what they actually stand for except the racist opposition to the black guy in Washington and his Affordable Care Act, an huge and valuable improvement over anything that has gone in the past.

But I am sure that the addled voters of "bleeding" and "flyover" Kansas will vote in lockstep with the Wichita Reich and return these non-starters to elected office and Kansas will continue to bleed and remain starved of any reasonable and workable government.

Kate Rogge 3 years, 7 months ago

I've tried to post a link to the Westview News article, but the web site refuses to allow a post that includes the word "n---r". So type the link as below, but substitute the full six letter word where I've placed six # signs in the hyphenated "/the-######-in-the-white-house/" string:

Bob Reinsch 3 years, 7 months ago

Why can't Brownback and his band run on their records, and simply tout all of the great things they've done to improve education, jobs and education for all Kansans? There needs to be an open forum to discus how the Brownback administration has made Kansas better and for whom.

Philipp Wannemaker 3 years, 7 months ago

They are scared s***less to run on their record. Their only hope is to scare the clueless voters of which Kansas has far too many.

James Howlette 3 years, 7 months ago

Their record seems to be the crux of the problem.

Scott Burkhart 3 years, 7 months ago

Huffington Post says Kansas schools are the top 5. Funding for education has increased every year under Brownback. Here's a website that projects the economic outlook for Kansas as 15th (1=best - 50=worst) in the country. Here's Business Insider that has Kansas in top half of the states in total fiscal metrics. I realize that's bad news for all of you libs that love your social programs that Brownback cut.

Daniel Kennamore 3 years, 7 months ago

Huffpo doesn't say that; one study they posted said that. It's a wonky new conservative formula calculated to promote their own ideal. By that own study's formula Kansas is 35th in spending per student.

And seriously, if an 'economic index' such as the one promoted by the (again conservative) only considers tax burden Kansas would look like an oasis. Problem is states like Kansas have extremely few lucrative jobs due to it not investing in infrastructure...hence the population decline.

Kansas lost nearly 11 thousand people since 2010 while ranking in the bottom 10 of states with new out-of-state residents. Nobody wants to live in a state, no matter how low the taxes, if they can't fie a job worthy of their skills.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 7 months ago

Well, Scott, I'm glad you aren't mimicking the AYP line that our Kansas schools are failures. It makes me feel good that you aren't completely owned by these conservative groups.

I am a retired teacher, Scott. And the reason the Kansas schools are good, is because of the brave teachers, principals, and other school employees who keep jumping through the hoops that the Republicans keep putting up, like NCLB. The SPED teachers are given more and more paperwork to fill out, but they do it. Make standardized tests the most important measurement of education, hey, they make sure the kids jump through that hoop.

But most importantly, in Kansas we have parents who believe in education and public schools. They are involved with their kids and their kids' schools. I think they are starting to understand that your group is trying to destroy public education, and replace it with for-profit schools. I don't think parents in Kansas will go for this at all.

John Middleton 3 years, 7 months ago

Oh, how short your memories of the unqualified one who, with no record other than voting "present" and no accomplishments to his credit chose to run against the previous unpopular president rather than confront his opponent. It was a strategy that worked. And your going to see it again in more places than Kansas. Any democrat running for any office will be tied to this unpopular, unaccomplished president and regardless of how much you think they dislike the GOP incumbent, they still dislike the presidential failure more.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 7 months ago

Ok, John, let's focus. This is a governor's race. The issues are Kansas issues. If you are thrilled about what Brownback has accomplished, then fine; give us your reasons. But do not tell us to vote for Brownback, because you don't like Obama. Brownback needs to run on his record, and quit trying to distract the voters.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 7 months ago

What "presidential failure"? The deficit has been cut every...EVERY YEAR...that Obama has been in office.

James Howlette 3 years, 7 months ago

Imaginary Obama was the worst governor in Kansas history! I hear Imaginary Obama sneaks into people's homes at night and replaces all their Diet Dr Peppers with Pepsi.

James Howlette 3 years, 7 months ago

He also turns up your car stereo when your key is out of the ignition.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 7 months ago

Except in Florida where you can kill someone for playing their music too loud.

James Howlette 3 years, 7 months ago

You can't kill Imaginary Obama. Not even with death panels. He'll live forever in the hearts of the fearful.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

Without misinformation,distortion and wild sex stories this ALEC GOP would have little to say as we've been exposed to over the years. Sam Brownback has become a master at saying nothing and avoiding a discussion that demands substance.

This right wing ALEC GOP is a champion at distracting the voters from the issues that matter.

This right wing ALEC GOP is a champion at killing democracy and recklessly spending tax dollars. Definitely are the big time spenders.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

Follow the Koch money …… exactly.

Billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch have been dominant financiers for conservative front groups and nonprofits for nearly three decades. Their money has flowed to organizations dedicated to lobbying for corporate and upper income tax cuts, as well as to groups responsible for mobilizing Tea Party rallies against President Obama.

But the Koch family’s association with fringe right-wing groups began a generation earlier with Fred Koch, the patriarch of the clan.

Fred not only founded the company now known as Koch Industries, he also was a founding member of the John Birch Society. As a founding board member, Fred helped engineer a hysterical wave of attacks on labor, intellectuals, public education, liberal clergy members, and other pillars of society he viewed as a threat.

Birchers decried everyone from former President Eisenhower to water utility administrators as pawns in a global communist conspiracy. In the last two years, as the Koch name has become synonymous with right-wing plutocracy in the United States, the Koch family has played down its relation to the Birchers.

However, the New American, the official mouthpiece of the John Birch Society, published a piece this morning celebrating Fred and the Koch family’s pivotal role in developing the group: Koch warned that American institutions were honeycombed with communist subversives, from labor unions and tax-free foundations to universities and churches. Art and newsprint, radio and television — all these media had been transmuted into vehicles of communist propaganda. [...]

Fred Koch was no fly-by-night pamphleteer. He spent a generous portion of his later years using his wealth and influence to fight the communism he abhorred. He was an early member of the The John Birch Society’s National Council, an advisory group to JBS founder Robert Welch. Koch supported a variety of freedom-related causes, all the while continuing to build the company today known as Koch Industries.

The Koch-funded Birchers held numerous rallies during the ’60s claiming integration would lead to a “mongrelization” of the races.

Although the present-day Koch brothers try to eschew explicit racism, their top Tea Party front group, Americans for Prosperity, is currently pursuing similar racial segregation goals. In North Carolina, the Americans for Prosperity chapter led a campaign to end a highly successful public school integration system.

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