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Brownback satisfaction rating at 18%; Democrats targeting Senate seats


A new poll from the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University shows only 18 percent of Kansans are satisfied with Gov. Sam Brownback's performance in office, and most (61 percent) think his signature tax policies have either been a "failure" or a "tremendous failure."

The Fall 2015 "Kansas Speaks" survey also showed a large majority (61 percent) favor expanding Medicaid. Another 84 percent oppose requiring colleges and universities to allow firearms on campus, and 82 percent are skeptical that voter fraud is a significant problem in Kansas.

The survey of 638 Kansas adults was conducted Sept. 14 through Oct. 5, with a margin of error of 3.9 percent.

The survey asked respondents to indicate whether they were very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neutral, somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with a list of elected officials. Overall, only 18 percent said they were either somewhat or very satisfied with Brownback.

That question is slightly different from the standard polling question, which asks people whether they "approve" or "disapprove" of a person's performance in office. It wasn't immediately clear how much impact that subtle difference in wording may have had on the results. One thing that was clear, though: Brownback's "satisfaction rating" among Kansans was 10 points lower than President Barack Obama's.

Like a similar poll conducted this spring, the fall poll portrays a much more moderate adult population than is reflected in the Legislature. That's likely due to the fact that the Fort Hays State poll surveys "adults," as opposed to "registered voters," or even "likely voters."

But the high level of dissatisfaction with Brownback and his policies may be important for Republican candidates running in the 2016 elections. They will likely have to ask themselves how closely they want to be identified with a governor who is personally unpopular, and who cannot run again himself because he is term limited.

Not surprisingly, the poll showed a wide partisan divide on most questions. But when it came to assessing Brownback, even among those who identified themselves as "strong Republicans," 45 percent said they were either somewhat or very dissatisfied with his performance. Only 9 percent said they were very satisfied.

Thirty-eight percent of "strong Republicans" said they believe his tax policies have failed to stimulate economic growth.

Democrats file to challenge conservative senators

More than a year out from the 2016 elections, Democrats are lining up a fair number of candidates to challenge conservative Republicans in the Kansas Senate.

The latest to file is Vicki Hiatt, a Johnson County Democrat who filed Friday to run in the 10th District against incumbent Republican Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook. Hiatt is a retired special education teacher who ran unsuccessfully for the Kansas House in 2014 against incumbent Republican Charles Macheers.

Earlier, Wichita school board member Lynn Rogers filed to challenge Republican Sen. Michael O'Donnell, a conservative who came into office in 2012 as part of the Kansas Chamber-backed slate of candidates who ousted incumbent moderates and took control of the Senate.

O'Donnell defeated then-Republican Sen. Jean Schodorf, a moderate whom the Democrats had never seriously tried to challenge. As a result, when O'Donnell won the GOP primary, he didn't have much difficulty winning the general election too.

But the district itself leans Democratic. As the Wichita Eagle has noted, it overlaps with three Democratic House districts, and voters there supported Democrat Paul Davis by double digits over Brownback in the 2014 gubernatorial race.

Democrats also have a candidate, Michael Czerniewski, teed up to run against Sen. Greg Smith in the 21st District of Johnson County. But moderate and progressive groups are said to be pinning their hopes more on Dinah Sykes, a former PTA president whose website features a picture of her in a bright red shirt, kind of a symbol of teachers unions and other pro-public education groups.

Reporters were also being told Friday to watch for another announcement in the 32nd District, where a high-profile Democrat is expected to announce against Sen. Steve Abrams of Arkansas City.

Democrats have been steadily losing Senate seats for the last 25 years. They're now at only eight seats in the 40-seat chamber, down from 13 after the 1992 elections. They haven't seen a net gain of Senate seats in any election since the 1980s.

For most of that time, though, they were able to form working alliances with moderate Republicans on issues such as K-12 and higher education spending, as well as abortion and other social issues. But that coalition was decimated after the 2012 elections when the Kansas Chamber and other groups allied with Gov. Sam Brownback took control by backing conservative Republicans to challenge sitting moderates.


Richard Crank 2 years, 8 months ago

Unfortunately, it's going to take a very long time for Kansas to recover from the damage our current executive and legislative branches have caused, with the only checks and balances coming from the state's judiciary. And they're not going to let up until they're actually out of office, "we the people" can, bad as that fact is, count on that.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 8 months ago

To be fair, that's national ratings. But even in Kansas statewide ratings, Obama is better loved than Brownback. Oh dears.

Chris Mulgrew 2 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps Supply Side economics just takes a little longer to kick in, in Kansas. This time next year every one may be driving down Easy Street in a new Cadillac, lighting big cigars with hundred dollar bills.

John Coenen 2 years, 8 months ago

We used to believe in Santa Clause, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy. How did that pan out in the real world?

John Coenen 2 years, 8 months ago

The republican / Tea Party belief in cheaper taxes creates economic growth was correct when Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 and the highest income tax rate was over 80% and Reagan lowered it into the 50% range, then lowered it again to around 35%. It worked, the economy improved and the income disparity between the top 1% and the rest of the country began to widen. Now, the new conservative believe that lowering the rate down from 35% will create economic growth as it did for Reagan. They fail to realize that what Reagan did by dropping tax rates from over 80% down to 35% can't be accomplished by lowering them from 35% to 0%. Kansas is the living example of that failure. Brownback and other conservatives have also failed to compensate the loss in revenue with enough cuts to offset the loss. The increased economic activity was suppose to make up the difference. If they had taken these changes slowly they could have succeeded but in their haste to show the world how right they were, they have had to make so many cuts in spending that government in Kansas is nearing failure on many levels. Education has been cut more than any other state, social programs are cut as low as federal law will allow and they have few places left to cut without irreparable damage to infrastructure. Brownback fails to recognize the failure and will continue to take Kansas down with him. Hopefully the people of Kansas will open their eyes and change course but I fear that even now the damage done will take decades to fix. I live in Wisconsin and fear Walker doing the same here. I hope my state won't take decades to get back to normal. Good luck Kansans!

Ed Minges 2 years, 8 months ago

Actually, Reagan didn't lower taxes appreciably. He signed TEFRA into law, which recovered all but about 2% of the revenue lost to the initial tax increases. Even that shortfall exploded the National Debt, tripling it before he left office. Not done yet: it kept galloping forward so quickly that Bush I was forced to renege on his campaign promise and raise taxes, thus costing him the election against Clinton.

Simply put, Reagan's supposed "tax cuts" were a fraud.

Larry Tucker 2 years, 8 months ago

I for one believe that the damage caused by the conservative legislature to education, transportation and health care can be turned around if the voters of Kansas step up to the plate (sorry KC Royals) and replace the leadership in Topeka. The courts can also have an impact with all the lawsuits the state is now facing especially with voter registration. The trickle down theory has not worked in Kansas and fiscal reality must be returned in Topeka to meet the needs of citizens expect for all of the above and especially the poor and disadvantaged. The only other alternative is to turn everything west of Douglas County into a National Prairie Park!!! Wake up Kansans or plan on moving to Johnson County!!

Ken Hunt 2 years, 8 months ago

So what is the Kansas Democratic Party doing to convince people to vote Democratic? Again the website for the Democrats just tells you what the Know Nothing Party does wrong instead of posting what ideas/proposals they have for middle class families. The people of this state will continue to vote against their own best interest until the party of blue gives them concrete reasons not to. Ugh......

Timothy Johnson 2 years, 8 months ago

Brownback and the Republican Legislature has totally ruined Kansas completely. You are the laughingstock of the nation. We would have to pay China to take you off our hands. You are totally unsellable. Its time for the US to cut our losses on you and to try to get rid of you. You are a totally worthless excuse for a state and don't deserve being a state any longer. Let Brownback become a Territorial Governor and rename it Brownbackistan Territory. You're entire state is diseased and must be done away with. He might as well govern this territory for life because you deserve him and the cronies in the Legislature. You voted for it, you are totally responsible for it. You should all be ashamed.

Don Brennaman 2 years, 8 months ago

Anyone re-electing Lynn Jenkins? Time to retire her to a ranch out by the retiring Kobach.

Luke Fawcett 2 years, 8 months ago

I am not so sure the voters of Kansas get it. We will see if they move Blue or stay ideologically Red. It matters not to the rest of us because we will gladly use Brownback as an example of the Tea Party Republicanism which has destroyed parts of the country while other parts thrive. Eventually, the GOP will have such a toxic stamp attached to it even the Idealogues will lose.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 8 months ago

This is news??? The worst ever fascist regime that has ever been installed in Kansas by the Koch Industries Regime????? It took a POLL to determine this???????


What a revelation!!!!

When does the impeachment start???

Bleeding and Fly-over Kansas wants to know...............

Paul Beyer 2 years, 8 months ago

Absolutely astonished that rating is that high. Must have surveyed a high percentage of Tea drinkers and Koch employees.

Michael Kort 2 years, 8 months ago

Let's see.......18% of those surveyed were satisfied with brownback's job performance ???.....Proof Positive,... that 18% of the people in this state could fool themselves 100% of the time !!! There are also lots of other people, who fool themselves into not voting because they believe that their votes don't matter and would seem to rather indure a horribly run mess, as is our state, than question their own beliefs ? How much are we willing to pay to a hand full of industrialists, who expect us not to vote and who know for sure that their 18% will most likely vote, driven by whatever fear that they can motivate them with, to install the next versions of disfunctional brownie government .

Tom Weiss 2 years, 8 months ago

don't forget, the Republicans did lower taxes on the highest income earners, and eliminated taxes for all small businesses. Certainly some of them must be happy with the result, and don't care that the rest of us are paying for their tax breaks.

Michael Kort 2 years, 8 months ago

By my estimation, they must believe that smokers ( I don't ) are the least likely to vote as they nailed them with a 50 cent per pack tax . At one pack per day, that comes up to $15.00 per month or $182.50 per year . Who does vote ? The highest income earners, the so called small businesses people; and of course, people who would vote their religious or public prejudices and fears .

Ken Schmidt 2 years, 8 months ago

What is potentially telling is in the 2014 Kansas gubernatorial election, there were 869,502 votes recorded. The total population in Kansas was 2,904,021, according to the census. I can't find the exact total I am looking for, but of the total population, 24.9% were under 18, or appx. 723,102 people. This leaves a potential voting population of 2,180,919. This means 39.9% of the voting population did so. If this poll were correct and 18% approve, and I might speculate those 18% were very likely to be registered and active voters, their numbers would encompass roughly 45% of the vote if you extrapolate. All the current legislators need to do is pick up more than 5% of the throw-away votes and they are back in business. Chew on that for a moment. If people want change, they need to vote. Pretty simple and totally cliché. By not voting, you still cast a vote for the status quo.

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