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TNR: Kansas now 'competitive' for Democrats


[The New Republic][1], a Democratic-leaning journal, offers an analysis of Kansas politics, saying that while Kansas isn't turning into a Democratic state, the state is "competitive" in ways that it wasn't just a few years ago, when Thomas Frank wrote his "What's The Matter With Kansas?" book describing GOP dominance here."The one-party state that (Sen. Sam) Brownback spoke of in 2000 no longer exists," John B. Judis writes in the opening of the piece. "For that, the Kansas senator can blame demography, the Bush administration, and - well, himself."The article describes fights between the conservative and moderate wings of the Kansas GOP over abortion, the state board of education, evolution and so on. The result: Moderates - like Mark Parkinson, the former state GOP chair who became Gov. Sebelius' lieutenant governor - started switching parties."By declaring war on moderates in their own party, conservatives ended up empowering Democrats," Judis writes.Another factor, Judis suggests, is the rapid growth of Johnson County." In the early part of the decade, the county had been known for its religious-right activists, who were based primarily in Shawnee and Olathe," Judis writes. "But those two towns are overshadowed by even more affluent and populous parts of the county. And the professionals and middle- managers who live in those areas are largely moderate Republicans. These voters were happy to support a Republican like (former Gov. Bill) Graves, but they heartily disliked the conservatives who had been trying to take over the state GOP--not just for their stands on abortion and evolution, but also for their reluctance to support spending on education and high-tech research and development."The changing demographics helped U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, whose hold on the 3rd district seat was initially tenuous, but which has become stronger in recent campaigns. The rise of U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, another Democrat, spotlights the third factor in Judis' thesis."In 2006, she challenged (then-Rep. Jim) Ryun again and found that voters had begun to turn against both the war and the Bush administration. Ryun, a former track star, had long campaigned as a champion of "family values," but in Washington he had become closely associated with K Street lobbyists, including Tom DeLay's former chief of staff Ed Buckham. So Boyda campaigned against the war, but she also highlighted Ryun's ties to K Street. She discovered what other Democratic candidates in the Midwest discovered last November: that, in the shadow of Iraq and Beltway corruption, small-town and rural voters were directing their populist resentment of elites not at Democratic support for gay marriage and abortion but rather at the administration's deception about Iraq and Republican ties to big business. Enough of these voters switched their allegiance from Ryun to Boyda to give her a four-point win."The result of all this, Judis writes, is not that Kansas is becoming a liberal state. It isn't. But the shift from a conservative to centrist ascendancy is notable."Kansas is not Massachusetts, and Dennis Moore and Nancy Boyda are not going to vote like Barney Frank or Ed Markey. But Kansas is still changing--and changing in a significant way."Other headlines from the Kansas congressional delegation:Iraq[(Topeka Capital-Journal) Iraq report draws interest:][2] Members of Kansas' congressional delegation say what the United States' top diplomat to Iraq says today on Capitol Hill might be more important than what the top American military commander tells lawmakers. ... Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts and Reps. Nancy Boyda and Jerry Moran were asked Saturday during their visits to the Kansas State Fair what they will be listening for from the ambassador and general. Foremost to Moran, the Republican representative of the state's 1st District, will be whether the report sounds objective. "I think what Kansans are looking for is an honest assessment that eliminates the political slant," Moran said. "I'm worried that we're going to hear a Bush administration report." ... Moran said he expects Petraeus to report progress on the military front as a result of the U.S. troop surge. So, too, does Roberts, a Republican with broad knowledge of the Middle East as a result of his service on the Senate Intelligence Committee, including a stint as its chairman. "People call it a surge. I call it a counteroffensive. I think he's going to point to some military successes, but I think the real question is what do you do politically?" Roberts said. "(Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki) is everybody's third choice. He has not been able to achieve stability let alone democracy with the Kurds and the Shiites and the Sunnis and the tribals." Brownback, the state's other senator and a GOP candidate for president, said he thinks little or no political progress has been made in reconciling differences and sharing power among those Iraqi factions. "I'm pushing a political surge. You've got to capture the moment," Brownback said. "I think partition is the way to go." ... Least forthcoming on her views was the state's freshman Democrat representative from the 2nd District. Boyda said she wanted to reserve comments until she heard Crocker's and Petraeus' testimony, which will start in the House Armed Services Committee on which Boyda serves. However, Boyda did say, "I haven't heard any of the report, so far, say there has been any movement on the political front and that's what everyone agrees has to happen." [1]: http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20070910&s=judis091007 [2]: http://www.cjonline.com/stories/091007/kan_198373259.shtml


jasonc_22 10 years, 4 months ago

what an EXCELLENT article from TNR...thanks for posting the link!

jumpin_catfish 10 years, 4 months ago

National Democratic Party also known as Moveon.org

youngitized 10 years, 4 months ago

This is an excellent article. I think Rep. Moore will win easily in 2008 and Rep. Boyda's race will be more of a toss-up.

jmadison 10 years, 4 months ago

TNR = Steven Glass and Scott Beauchamp, both fabulists.

rhannay 10 years, 4 months ago

TNR=producers of "fact based" reporting for decades now. Typical of the LJW to actually give it credence. Moore has gotten a free pass for years (with the help of Steve Cloud mucking around in the Republican party in Johnson County) and Boyda got a free ride off Sebelius. She is in trouble in 2008, no matter who she faces in the general.

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