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Davis bids farewell to House chamber

TOPEKA — House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, on Friday gave a farewell speech to the chamber he has been working in for the past 12 years.

"Thank you for the friendships that I will cherish forever, for the memories that will never leave me, and the opportunity to simply serve," Davis said.

Davis is giving up his seat to run for governor against Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

He told House members that next year he will be working in the governor's office or in his law office in Lawrence.

Davis said it has been an honor to serve the 46th House District. For the past six years, he has also been minority leader.

Davis thanked his wife, Stephanie, daughter, Caroline, and parents, who were all present, and each member of the Douglas County delegation, saying he learned from all of them.

He also thanked his staff and House Republican leaders.

Reply 8 comments from Merrill Ludus Lynn Grant MerriAnnie Smith Gregdivilbiss Scott Quenette John Kyle

In new ad, group backing Brownback praises governor for school bill but doesn’t mention repeal of teacher tenure

A group backing Gov. Sam Brownback churned out a commercial praising Brownback for the new school finance bill, but the ad doesn't mention controversial parts of the bill, including a repeal of job protections for teachers.

The spot sponsored by Road Map Solutions Inc., led by Brownback's longtime political adviser David Kensinger, was running this weekend and cites the bill approved April 6 in the Legislature.

The measure, approved with only Republican votes, was passed after a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that said the Legislature must increase funding to poor schools. But the bill also includes measures opposed by Democrats and some Republicans that would repeal teacher tenure and provide corporate tax breaks for private school scholarships for low-income children.

Brownback is expected to sign the bill into law.

"We got it done," says the announcer on the new ad. The ad says the bill will provide $73 million more for schools and $78 million in property tax relief.

But the ad doesn't mention those education policy changes that have generated criticism.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, the likely Democratic challenger to Brownback, said the repeal of teacher tenure represented "a clear attack" on teachers.

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Poll: Governor’s race tight; Medicaid expansion will be an issue

A new poll shows the race for Kansas governor remains tight.

The poll showed Democrat Paul Davis of Lawrence leading Republican Gov. Sam Brownback 45 percent to 41 percent, with 14 percent unsure. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. It was conducted April 1-3, before the contentious last weekend of the legislative session.

The poll, commissioned by the left-leaning MoveOn.org's political action committee, also shows that 52 percent of Kansans want the state to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage while 35 percent oppose it and 13 percent are unsure.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states can increase income eligibility to allow more people to receive health care coverage under Medicaid.

Medicaid provides coverage for the needy and disabled. Under the ACA, federal funds would pay 100 percent of the cost of expansion for three years and no less than 90 percent after that.

Supporters of expansion of Medicaid say it would help thousands of Kansans who earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid or to receive premium tax credit assistance under the ACA to purchase private insurance.

There are 182,000 Kansans within that gap, according to a study by the Kansas Health Institute. Of that number, 78,400 have no insurance, the study said.

Brownback and the Republican-led Kansas Legislature have refused to expand coverage. Brownback has said he fears the federal government won't keep its funding promise.

A bill approved by the Legislature and awaiting consideration by Brownback would ban indefinitely expansion of Medicaid.

According to the new poll, when told that Davis wants to expand Medicaid, 39 percent of those polled said that made them more likely to vote for him, while 34 percent said less likely.

When told that Brownback opposes expansion of Medicaid, 33 percent said that made them more likely to vote for him while 41 percent said that it made them less likely.

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling surveyed 886 likely voters in Kansas. Fifty-two percent of those polled identified themselves as Republican, 30 percent Democrat, and 18 percent independent.

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Davis camp sends inadvertent email to reporters

A spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Paul Davis, the likely Democratic candidate for governor, had an "oops" moment today.

Haley Pollock inadvertently sent an email to reporters that was meant for planners of a pro-school funding press conference scheduled for Monday.

In that email, Pollock advises Game On for Kansas Schools on how to write a press release.

"The release should be a mini version of the press conference though. We basically want to write the story that we want to appear in the paper and include the quote we want to appear in the paper from each speaker," she wrote. "That way even if a reporter can't attend, they still have everything they need to write the story."

Pollock sent a follow-up email to reporters noting the accidental email and apologizing for any confusion.

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Davis promises bipartisan administration; Brownback campaign blasts Davis’ support of Obama

Topeka – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis announced that three former legislators, all Republicans, will lead the campaign's Republicans for Davis group.

“I am deeply committed to restoring the Kansas tradition of bipartisan cooperation in the governor’s office," Davis said Monday.

Davis, from Lawrence, is the House minority leader and likely Democratic challenger in November to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

In response to the announcement, Brownback's campaign spokesman David Kensinger referred to Davis' support of President Barack Obama.

"There are only so many Kansans willing to vote for a guy who doubled down on the Obama agenda as an Obama Delegate in 2008 and 2012," Kensinger said.

And James Echols, chair of Democrats for Brownback, issued a statement, saying that many Democrats appreciate Brownback's leadership. "Sam Brownback has shown the right mix of courage and vision to lead our state," said Echols, president of the board of Economic Opportunity Foundation Inc., of Kansas City, Kan.

Davis said he wanted Republicans and independent voters to be part of his campaign and administration if elected.

The three Republicans who will serve as co-chairs of Republicans for Davis are former House Speaker Wendell Lady of Overland Park and former House members Charlie Roth of Salina and Fred Gatlin of Atwood.

Lady said Brownback's income tax cuts, which included eliminating income taxes for nearly 200,000 business owners, "is the most unfair tax legislation ever enacted in Kansas." Brownback has said the cuts will stimulate the economy.

Roth said the state was going in the wrong direction under Brownback and that Davis has helped engineer bipartisan passage of key legislation. Gatlin said Davis would bring people together.

In Kansas, Republican registered voters outnumber Democrats by more than 341,000 out of the state's 1.7 million voters.

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Details of head-to-head poll between Brownback, Davis reveal interesting splits

A poll one year before the 2014 gubernatorial election may not be that significant, but the SurveyUSA poll released last week that shows a close race between Democratic challenger Paul Davis and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has some interesting highlights.

Overall, the poll shows Davis, the House minority leader from Lawrence, with 43 percent of the vote to Brownback's 39 percent. The survey has a plus or minus margin of error of 4.4 percent.

The result follows an earlier SurveyUSA poll that showed Brownback with high disapproval ratings and Davis with low name identification, so the subsequent poll showing Davis ahead may be the result of an anti-Brownback sentiment more than a pro-Davis sentiment.

Minority voters and women break toward Davis, but what I found most interesting is that in the age categories, Brownback wins 18- to 34-year-olds, 43 percent to 38 percent, but Davis wins 35- to 49-year-olds, 42 percent to 35 percent; and 50- to 64-year-olds, 50 percent to 34 percent. The two split the 65-plus vote.

Think of people in that 35- to 64-year-old range. That's responsibility time. Raising families, getting kids through school, into college, etc. And a big chunk of the folks in that age range have been tempered by the Great Recession economy and its aftershocks. These folks, according to the poll, are supporting Davis.

The poll also asks voters what are their top issues. When the top issue is education, Davis is far ahead of Brownback, 75 percent to 14 percent, but when the top issue is the economy, Brownback leads among those voters, 46 percent to 37 percent, and when the top issue is crime, Brownback leads again, 46 percent to 33 percent.

Probably the most positive aspect of the poll for Davis, is that among those voters who describe themselves as moderate, Davis leads 58 percent to 28 percent. Davis and his lieutenant governor running mate, Jill Docking, must collect votes from independents and moderate Republicans to win a year from now.

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Campaign themes in gubernatorial race echo 1996

The old adage that the more things change the more they stay the same is certainly true in politics.

The likely election contest featuring the Democratic team of Paul Davis and Jill Docking running against Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer has already produced themes that sound similar to those used in 1996 when Docking battled Brownback for a U.S. Senate seat.

The 1996 campaign was an intense, sometimes bitter race.

Brownback accused Docking of being a tax-and-spend liberal and linked her to national Democratic figures including then-U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, who was unpopular with Kansas voters.

Docking said Brownback represented an extremist right wing agenda on social issues as she tried mightily to win over moderate Republicans.

Fast forward to the current political climate and what do we see?

Republicans are trying to link Davis and Docking to national Democrats; in this case, President Barack Obama, another unpopular pol in Kansas.

Meanwhile, Davis and Docking are trying to appeal to moderate Republicans and independents, saying that Brownback represents a right-wing faction that is more interested in giving tax breaks to the wealthy than funding education.

In 1996, the Docking-Brownback campaign was for the unexpired term of Bob Dole, who was the Republican nominee for president. Docking was a political newcomer, although she came from a famous Kansas political family. Brownback was an up-and-coming conservative who, as a freshman U.S. House member, bucked state party leaders by defeating in the GOP primary Sheila Frahm, who had been appointed to replace Dole.

In the general election, the Christian Coalition played a heavy role, putting out voting guides that said Docking supported "taxpayer funding of obscene art," which Docking denied.

Polls had indicated the race was tight, but Brownback won by more than 10 percentage points.

While some of the campaign themes seem similar to today, one thing that was novel in 1996 won't be in 2014. When the returns rolled in, state election officials posted the results on something called the Internet.

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Davis campaign for governor releases video

Paul Davis' campaign for governor has released a 5-minute video in which Davis and his family talk about Davis' values and how he has met personal challenges and adversity.

Davis, the House minority leader from Lawrence, is the presumptive Democratic challenger to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in 2014. He faces a steep climb against Brownback. Republican voter registration in Kansas far outstrips Democratic registration.

"The essence of Kansas is really the sense of community and neighbors helping neighbors," Davis says in the video. "Whether they're Democrat or Republican, I usually don't know and don't care. I know that I'm their representative and it's my job to listen to them and it's my job to help them if I can," he says.

Here is a link to the video.

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Brownback, Davis differ on meaning of economic figures

Gov. Sam Brownback's administration says recent state tax collection figures are positive, but his presumptive Democratic opponent, Paul Davis, has a different view.

Davis says the plummeting tax revenues and increasing unemployment rate are signs that Kansas is lagging because of Brownback's policies.

"Gov. Brownback's `real live experiment' is not working," said Davis, the House minority leader from Lawrence.

Earlier this week, the Kansas Department of Revenue said taxes collected during the first quarter of the fiscal year were slightly less than expected.

Of the $1.37 billion in taxes collected from July through September, the figure was $8.5 million, or 0.6 percent, below projections.

A dip in corporate tax revenue may have been caused by businesses investing more than expected in machinery, which receives tax breaks, the Brownback administration said.

"We believe that all of these numbers show that Kansas businesses are investing and citizens are spending more money," Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said.

The $1.37 billion collected during the first quarter was $135.8 million less than what was collected in the first quarter of the last fiscal year. That's a 9 percent decline.

Such a decrease would have set off alarm bells in previous years, but this was expected. That dip is the result of the income tax cuts signed into law by Brownback, which he has said will spur the economy, but which Democrats have said will underfund essential government functions and favor the wealthy.

As far as spurring the economy, Kansas' unemployment rate was 5.9 percent in August, which is lower than the national rate of 7.3 percent. But the national rate has been declining this year, from 7.9 percent in January, while the Kansas rate has increased from 5.5 percent over the same time period.

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Davis, Schodorf gain support from Kansas AFL-CIO

The Kansas State AFL-CIO executive board has endorsed two Democrats, Paul Davis for governor and Jean Schodorf for secretary of state, in the 2014 election.

Davis, the House minority leader from Lawrence, is the presumptive Democratic nominee to take on Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican.

Schodorf, a former Republican state senator from Wichita who switched to the Democratic Party, has announced she will seek the Democratic nomination to face Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican. Mission Hills businessman Randy Rolston, a Democrat, has already filed to run in the race.

"Union members are looking ahead to new leadership for a stronger Kansas," said Bruce Tunnell, executive vice president of the Kansas State AFL-CIO. "We are proud to support Paul Davis for Governor and Jean Schodorf for Secretary of State. We are confident that Davis and Schodorf are the right candidates for the job at hand," he said.

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