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Conservatives are in the driver's seat in the Kansas Legislature; professors ask where they will take the state


Topeka — A group of political science professors on Thursday said conservative Republicans led by Gov. Sam Brownback are in the driver's seat in Kansas and now the question is where will they take the state.

Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty on Thursday speaks during a roundtable discussion on the recent election. Seated behind him is Gwen Mellinger, a professor at Baker University.

Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty on Thursday speaks during a roundtable discussion on the recent election. Seated behind him is Gwen Mellinger, a professor at Baker University. by Scott Rothschild

"The governor is going to be able to push through his legislative agenda in a very meaningful way," said Joe Aistrup of Kansas State University. "We are going to see a very strong pendulum swing to the right," Aistrup told about 75 people who gathered for a post-election discussion at Washburn University.

Conservative Republicans knocked off eight moderate Republican incumbents in the state Senate in August and will be in charge of that chamber when the legislative session starts in January. In the 125-member House, Republicans, most of them conservatives, hold a 92-33 edge over Democrats. More than 50 members of the House will be new legislators.

Aistrup said conservatives have made moderate Republicans in Kansas "almost extinct." Moderates, he said, are retired, beaten or converted, and he said that the Democratic Party probably won't be viable in Kansas for decades.

Michael Smith, of Emporia State University, said now that conservatives have taken over state government and hold all six congressional positions, they must show what their small government philosophy will look like.

Smith said to make significant budget cuts on the federal and state level will require cuts to health care and education and it will be interesting to see how the public reacts to that.

Ed Flentje, of Wichita State University, said the number of state governments in control of the Republican party has grown from nine in 2008 to 24 in 2012. In fact, he said only 11 states have divided party control.

"At the state level, red states got redder and blue states got bluer," Flentje said.

Burdett Loomis, of Kansas University, said Kansas has become a more conservative state while the United States "is trending blue." He said Republican governors face a dilemma. "They've got to deal with the federal government. They can choose to cooperate, work with it, or not cooperate and play it on a pure political basis," which could hurt the states, he said.

Loomis said one of the bills that he expects will pass next year in the Kansas Legislature and be signed into law by Brownback would allow a religious defense to discriminate against gays.

"That kind of legislation will slide through the Legislature," he said. Last session, the House approved the bill, but Senate leaders, who have since been defeated in the GOP primary, wouldn't consider the bill. Several Lawrence officials fought against the measure, saying it would have nullified a city of Lawrence anti-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation.

Bob Beatty and Mark Peterson, both of Washburn University, and Gwen Mellinger of Baker University also spoke at the event.


lawrenceguy40 5 years, 6 months ago

The liberal elite at KU will soon find that their pig trough will soon be out of state food.

I look forward to the day that ku is closed down. Governor Brownback would do well to rid the State of Kansas of all liberals and closing ku would be a good first step.

It will be such fun to watch the liberals on the hill scream. This will be the first of many such articles and I relish their arrival.

parrothead8 5 years, 6 months ago

Be careful what you wish for. When only one opinion matters, you have fewer freedoms.

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes. Because the state doesn't need trained doctors at all. Good plan.

fiddleback 5 years, 6 months ago

KU closed down...idiotic troll line if there ever was one. Oldest school in the land (1866), in a town that's been socially liberal since its founding in 1854. Hate to break it to you, but we've survived far worse than Brownback, and we aren't going anywhere. But maybe you should, since you have the entire rest of the state to go spew your partisan hate for the little blue island, and perhaps even have a few troglodytes mistake it as cogent...

tomatogrower 5 years, 6 months ago

lawrenceguy40 is just upset he couldn't get into KU. There standards aren't that low. And he really hates educated people. They don't follow the FOX tea party lies.

appleaday 5 years, 6 months ago

Wow. And I thought we were living in a democracy LG40

KS 5 years, 6 months ago

Look at Washington, DC. Certainly not for another four years.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 6 months ago

There is so much lack of thought in your post that it barely rates a reply. However..................

If you truly believe your silliness, then you need more of the education that KU provides to those with OPEN minds. You call yourself lawrenceguy, but you advocate the ending of the single largest employer in the city, along with the loss of culture, education, and diversity it brings to the city and the state. Even you can not be serious, or even think this is funny.

The "liberal elite at KU" is a part of the University, but not the entire student or faculty are of the less reactionary party of which you are so proud. Do you even kow anything about the University? Do you know anything about anything that doesn't have to do with treading on the entire history of growth of the United States?

There were, in World War ll, a group of Jews who, through their desire to maintain the status quo, aided, in many ways, the Nazi regime in its attempt at eliminating diversity, education, and culture. That didn't work out so well for Germany, or the Jewish population, now, did it? Or maybe you are of the opinion that the Nazis were right. Is that it?

Your ignorance of the realities of human endeavor is galling, but is only a symptom of what the Republican Party in Kansas has become. With your kind as its fodder, the Republican ultra-right will continue to eat itself as people come more strongly to realize the bigotry, hate, self-centeredness and pure evil embodied in its me-first-I-will-not-compromise-for any-reason. Kansas is in the throes of an illness that will, with or without your help, be cured.

Perhaps you will think about what I've said. Perhaps not. More likely you will maintain your vision of selfishness that defines YOUR Kansas Republican party. For that, I am truly sorry, because, in the end, it will be your loss when the penduluum swings back to the middle where Kansas has been since the mid-1800s.

David Reynolds 5 years, 6 months ago

Joe Alstrup is just whining because the whole country is liberal. Luckily Kansas is in Republicans hands. Interesting fact in todays news. The best run state in the USA this year is North Dakota, it is Republican. The worst run state in the USA?...California, it is Democratic. So Joe be thankful that Kansas is in good hands

Katara 5 years, 6 months ago

I imagine when you have a smaller population to deal with, it would be easier to run things.

James Nelson 5 years, 6 months ago

North Dakota has been in a virtual "no lose" atmosphere for a few years and likely will be for years to come but, guess what? Republicans had nothing to do with it. It was that black gold that came spouting out of the ground that has made the state the most envied for its new revenues. Again, don't give republicans any credit for the state's new found fortunes at all. Republicans have been in charge for decades there and the state was considered God forsaken forever until the oil showed up.

Abdu Omar 5 years, 6 months ago

Without descent you have no real democracy and with out democracy we will have a one party rule in the State of Kansas. Is this really what we want? With the "other" thinkers gone, who will debate issues? Who will bring up the other point of view? How does that type of thinking improve the culture, the growth and the political atmosphere of this state? How do we find truth if there is only one point of view? Lawrenceguy, I pity you very much. You may be here alone today.

Katara 5 years, 6 months ago

I have to tease you about your incorrect word usage.

Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

"Without descent you have no real democracy"

You do have to look pretty low to find democrats.

blindrabbit 5 years, 6 months ago

The drift of the Kansas State legislature is apparent but the consequences will be borne out as Kansas continues it's slide to irrelevance in the national picture.To support the concept, I did a little investigation in terms of the State of Kansas' representation in the U.S. House of Representatives over the years. As you know the U.S. House is made up of 435 members (as fixed by law) and preportioned by state population and adjusted by the census count every 10 years. Kansas at one time (back in the late 19th century) had 8 representatives, and that number has continued to decline through the 20th and into the 21st centuries. Don't known the exact time, but I remenber (1960's) when Kansas had 6 members, this further declined into the 1980's when the Kansas count dropped to 5 members. Following the 2010 (most recent) census, the Kansas count dropped to 4. This is true even though the Kansas population grew (albeit a a slow rate), and was considerably below the national growth % increase. As it is now, each of the 435 members of the House represent approximately 711,000 persons,, a total U.S. population of 308,000,000+. With Kansas' population of 2,863,813, you can see Kansas is close to it's true representation based on the 2010 census count. The real trend to irrelevance will come in the next census or two (2020 or 2030) when Kansas will likely loose another House member. Kansas' population will continue to grow slowly but the population of the country will grow at a faster rate especially in the 17 States with less population than Kansas. Many issues so popular with Kansas conservatives will ultimately be contested as Federal Courts will eventually trump state laws as they are deemed to be violations of Civil Rights.

fiddleback 5 years, 6 months ago

In these 24 GOP-controlled states, seems as though we're about to witness the birth of supply-side conservatism in the purest forms ever seen. This is truly the spawn of a 30-year marriage between the religious right and the trickle-down spin-masters.

Unfortunately, the spawn will almost certainly be a stillbirth.

The wretched results of rabidly defunding the public sector, combined with inevitable overreaches in social policy, will turn these red states into abject cautionary tales, damningly confirming both the emptiness of supply-side thinking and GOP claims to be less controlling while pursuing a nakedly religious social agenda. Just as the country begins considering which party to give the reins in 2016, anyone with a shred of common sense or moderate thinking in these 24 states will be eager to escape this nightmare. Though it will be the thinnest of silver linings in places like Kansas, which may not see the light until more of the older generations die off, the GOP is about to fall flat on its face, and further cement its status as the 21st century "regional rump party."

Ken Lassman 5 years, 6 months ago

At the national level, we're facing a fiscal cliff. Here in Kansas, we've created a fiscal black hole and seem quite eager to throw our public sector into it, never to see the light of day again.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Kansas has migrated to a republican party that is only posing as republicans. What has replaced Kansas republicans is the anti american right wing party.

What does this anti american right wing party do for us? Nothing such as the one in Washington D.C. Obstacles and frauds is the proper description.

The state and the nation are back to square one since November 6 came and went.

Face it neither WOMEN nor Republicans nor Democrats nor the Middle class will ever be able to afford those posing as the Republican Party!

-- Women will be getting more republican big government in there lives? It is on the way! http://www.kansascity.com/2012/10/05/3849961/joel-brinkley-gop-would-impose.html

--- Public Education is a strong player in new Economic Growth yet republicans starve the system of funding which starves our teachers of resources. Which starves the desired level of education = stealing from our children’s future.

--- "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination” (Very dangerous position which threatens OUR freedoms and the nations security) http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Project_for_the_New_American_Century

--- The repub party declared the day Obama was elected their primary function would be to make Obama a one term president. Consequently their millions of NO votes became the disastrous campaign against women,The USA and jobs for Americans. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/09/did-republicans-deliberately-crash-us-economy

--- Republicans want to kill PBS and NPR - NO I want my tax dollars to support PBS and NPR

--- Publicopoly Exposed frankly is a threat to Democracy - ALEC http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/11603/publicopoly_exposed/ http://www.justice.org/cps/rde//justice/hs.xsl/15044.htm

--- Killing Social Security Insurance Is Not An Option. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html

--- Killing Medicare Insurance is simply not an option. http://www.thenation.com/article/159769/paul-ryans-plan-destroy-medicare

msezdsit 5 years, 6 months ago

Kansas : Third world and headin for fourth.

msezdsit 5 years, 6 months ago

professors ask where they will take the state?

Answer please: Stone age

While the rest of the country is finally moving away from the right wing wackoes, they can find safe haven in Kansas. New Kansas motto:

"Kansas: exploring new depths and going there everyday."

Dan Eyler 5 years, 6 months ago

Missouri legislature announces move to follow Kansas lead to reduce state income tax rates by HALF over the next 5 years to compete for jobs and business and reduce the tax burden of the people of Missouri. Way to go Missouri. Keep the doors open for job creation. Jobs not welfare and foodstuffs. Jobs not human warehouses called homeless shelters. We need opportunities for work not increased taxes to pay welfare checks.

Liberty275 5 years, 6 months ago

We must fight back and delete Kansas state income taxes! Rally round the flag boys! Make Kansas FREE... of state income tax.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

It's really good to know that all that's required to create paradise is to make wealthy people even wealthier, and give everyone else a double middle finger.

msezdsit 5 years, 6 months ago

Yep. typical distorted jaded point of view of the me me me and me only party. It takes believing a lot of myths to justify selfishness.

question4u 5 years, 6 months ago

At the moment, this is the best possible scenario for Kansas moderates and even liberals. There can be no excuses for the economic condition of Kansas in the near future. It will be entirely the responsibility of Brownback, the right wing radicals of the state legislature, and those who have supported them. No one will have any credible basis for denying that. If local property taxes soar, if the state sales tax remains high, if public education deteriorates, if the state does not see a hiring boom immediately from Brownback's "shot of adrenaline to the heart of the economy" it won't be because of Kansas moderates or liberals. If even half of the projected $2.5 billion deficit materializes over the next few years it will be crystal clear whose fault that is.

Maybe people like Lawrence guy are really amazing economic pundits. Maybe their prophecies of unprecedented prosperity will come true. Against logic and historical precedent, what hasn't worked in other contexts may be just the thing for Kansas. If that ends up being true, then there are many who have posted here, myself included, who will have to eat crow. That's a small price to pay for a wildly prosperous Kansas economy in which no harm has been done to public education and from which everyone benefits.

On the other hand, if Brownback is wrong and the neutral study by the Legislative Research Department is right, there's no way to hide a $2.5 billion deficit under the carpet. Brownback will have the mess on his face for the whole country to see. The only way for him to transfer the blame will be to point to the people who put him in office. Weasel as they will, there will be no way for them to deny that they brought it upon themselves.

So, the only thing to do now is to sit back and wait to see if Lawrence guy is smarter than the the neutral experts of the Legislative Research Department and a group of Kansas political science professors.

Shelley Bock 5 years, 6 months ago

I think you've said it well. With such domination, there is no way that Brownback and company won't be given credit for success or damned for failure. Having a vigorous opposition is always good to blame if things don't happen as projected.

My question is how to distinguish overall American economic improvement (hoping that such occurs) from state improvement based on Brownback's policies. Would the State need to show improvement exceeding the national level?

If the State goes into a tail spin, how will the Republican dominated legislature respond to such?. Will it be "stay the course" or can Republicans adjust and find solutions for deficit problems? What will happen when school districts in Western Kansas go bankrupt or can't satisfy accreditation requirements? What will happen if the question becomes classrooms versus athletic programs? Will there be support by legislators for local needs? Remember, that "funding cuts are always great for the other guy, but not for me", which is the real Tea Party battle cry.

I really feel that present State government will focus on social issues in a radical manner. They've already slashed the cash and now they will burn the laws. Kansas will become a very closed minded, isolated and mean place to live. Some desire that, but most will discover that it isn't for them. Radicals gloating now, may suffer as their circumstances change.

The radicals are in charge and, I believe, they're going to suffer for their excesses. Unrestrained, they will move beyond reason and mire themselves in bizarre thinking.

deec 5 years, 6 months ago

"My question is how to distinguish overall American economic improvement (hoping that such occurs) from state improvement based on Brownback's policies. Would the State need to show improvement exceeding the national level?"

When these fantasy economic plans fail, they'll blame the nation's and/or the global economy for the failure. I believe there have already been a few quotes to lay the foundation for absolving themselves of responsibility.

"There are forces beyond the state’s control,” Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said last week. “There’s still a great deal of uncertainty with the economy.”

Shelley Bock 5 years, 6 months ago

I can see it now "Kansas drought and crop failures blamed on RINO and Democrats climate change." Strange time to discover science. :)

fiddleback 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, I initially wanted to think that the inevitable overreaches in social policies and devastating fiscal cuts would be nothing that Brownback and Co. could hide from. But then presuming that the pendulum should start to swing back leftward seems to give the Kansas electorate far too much credit. Will these voters simply admit that the party that has dominated Kansas since Goldwater just doesn't have the solutions to make the state prosperous? I highly doubt it. From Brownback and his supporters, I much sooner imagine a mixture of outright denial, cherry-picked positives, and blame placed on Obama.

By the way, in case you're curious how much our state is banking on low tax incentives to lure businesses: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/01/us/government-incentives.html#KS http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/us/how-local-taxpayers-bankroll-corporations.html

blueinaseaofred 5 years, 6 months ago

Trust me people. We are quickly heading to become the "new" Mississippi. God Help Us All !

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 6 months ago

It will be interesting to see just how this right wing dominated government will work.

They may very well rubber stamp a series of laws that lead to discrimination and that gut our state infrastructure and economy.

On the other hand, these right wing populists now dominating the government excel at conflict. It's what they do. It was their means to power and their only means of operation as far as I can tell. They are not good at cooperating to get things done.

I wouldn't be surprised to see internecine wars between the governor and the legislature and between different right wing groups in the legislature. BB might find himself at odds with the legislature, which will likely swing wildly to the right and propose things that make even right wing Sam Brownback take pause.

We shall see.

Shelley Bock 5 years, 6 months ago

Trying to gain control of a dominating majority is far more difficult than a majority challenged by strong opposition. All in the majority will think that they've got the answer and it is time to show their power. If there isn't any opposition, their enemies will be found in their party ranks. On the other hand, if the opposition had been just those "pesky liberals, progressives, RINOs and Democrats", they would have banded together and had political cover.

I'm very interested in how cohesive this dominating majority can be. And, curious as to whom will be blamed for failures.

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