Monthly Archives: October 2012

Surrogate presidential debaters square off at WSU

Representing Mitt Romney, David Kensinger makes a point while Rep. Jim Ward, (center right) representing President Obama, looks on. At left are political science professors Ken Ciboski and Mel Kahn, who served as moderator at the traditional surrogate presidential debate at Wichita State University.

It wasn’t Obama vs. Romney IV, but state Rep. Jim Ward and gubernatorial advisor David Kensinger tried hard to make it that way.

As Wichita State University’s Political Science Club hosted its traditional pre-election surrogate debate, Ward, D-Wichita, stood in for President Obama; Republican nominee Mitt Romney was represented by Kensinger a political consultant and former chief of staff for Gov. Sam Brownback.

Much of the debate covered familiar ground for those who watched the real candidates face off in their three debates – the economy, jobs, taxes, health care and the deficit were all in play.

And like the real candidates, both debaters had overarching themes they returned to repeatedly in their appeal for votes.

For Ward, the question of the day was “Are we all in this together or go it alone?”

Kensinger’s chief argument was that the president is the chief executive of the country and should be fired for “poor performance” on employment, poverty and the national debt.

“If you were dissatisfied enough with the performance of President Bush 43 that you fired him, by objective measurement, the performance of the 44th president was worse and he in turn then should be fired,” Kensinger said.

Ward acknowledged that Americans have been through tough times. But he blamed Republicans for blocking progress on solving the nations’s problems by setting their top priority as unseating Obama and taking an attitude of “we can’t agree with the president on anything.”

Meanwhile, they simultaneously purged their own party of moderate politicians who might have reached across the aisle, Ward said.

“Many people (Republican members of Congress) who were in the middle of the road were told that your political future is over if you vote for the stimulus, if you work for a long-term budget program that doesn’t voucherize Medicaid.”

Kensinger argued that Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has a “proven record of bipartisan performance.”

“If we agree that debate is the way to move forward and we agree that bipartisanship and spending restraint are what is necessary … I can only offer you as an empiricist … what has happened before. Gov. Romney worked with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, balanced four budgets and helped lead to overall job growth.”

Possibly the most telling clash of the surrogates’ conflicting views came when Kensinger cited the Negro Leagues of the early 20th Century as an example of how private-sector entrepreneurship can improve society better than government can.

Barred from the all-white Major League Baseball, black players said “If we can’t play in the major leagues we will build our own,” Kensinger said. “And our own will be so outstanding, the quality of play and profit we generate will force those who respect fair play and excellence — and who wish to maximize their market — to allow us in the game.

“It accomplished complete success, total integration within the world of baseball within two generations and without bloodshed,” Kensinger said. “The answer is entrepreneurship. And entrepreneurship is most held down by excessive government taxation and regulation.”

Ward, however, said that government involvement was critical in integration, not just in baseball but society itself.

“I don’t think it would have happened without the Civil Rights Act of ‘64 and the Voting Rights act of ‘65 and a long litany of court decisions that said ‘No, you must include everybody,’” Ward said. “And that’s where I think government involvement is very important — not controlling, but saying, ‘No, no, we can’t wait another 100 years for the economy to grow us into equality.’”

WSU students who attended the debate split over who they thought won. Consensus was that it was close and some students said Ward and Kensinger put on a better debate than the real candidates had.

Said 19-year-old student Will Amos: “They both used more facts than the actual candidates do.”

Chamber, Democratic Party fuel final campaign pushes

Big checks from a few well-known Kansans enriched the Kansas Chamber of Commerce PAC, which attacked Democrats and bolstered conservative Republican candidates across the state, according to reports filed late Monday.

The money is playing big roles in the Wichita area and across the state as the chamber tries to brand Democrats as supporters of Obamacare because of their opposition to a mostly symbolic vote on an amendment to the state constitution opposing a piece of the Affordable Care Act requiring people to have health insurance.

Some legal experts say such a vote wouldn’t allow the state to opt out of the federal health care law, as conservatives suggest and as the chamber contends in its attack ads. But conservatives say it could have sent the federal government a signal and potentially help the state’s legal position if a new challenge arises, although the U.S. Supreme Court has since ruled most of the law constitutional.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Democratic Party drew big money from its candidates’ campaigns and then redirected that money to blast Republicans and back its own candidates in key races. It spent $680,000 to fuel candidates’ campaigns and pay for attack ads, such as those that label conservative Republicans as bad for education.

Republicans have pushed back, saying Democrats’ claim that Gov. Sam Brownback made the single largest cut to education in the state’s history is bogus.

A series of cuts under Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson amounted to more, they say. And they noted that overall education spending is up, including a $40 million increase in the most recent budget. But Democrats say that reductions in per-pupil base state aid in the 2011 budget total the largest single cut, and they contend that, even though Brownback’s most recent budget signature gave more in per pupil aid, more should have been provided to restore cuts made in the wake of the recession.

Democrats recently apologized for attacking Wichita Republican Rep. Joseph Scapa in a mail ad. Their postcard said he voted for the 2011 budget that included education funding cuts. He voted against that budget.

The Democratic Party’s $680,000 in spending out-weighs the Kansas Republican Party’s $302,000 of spending, and many of its candidates are also getting help from the Kansas National Education Association, which added $68,000 to the $630,000 it had on hand in late July.

Its recent money came from relatively small donations, as compared to the state chamber. It spent about $280,000, mostly supporting Democrats, and has $418,000 headed into the last week of the election season.

Meanwhile, Republicans got a lot of help from the state chamber.

The chamber spent $543,000 during the most recent campaign finance reporting that covers July 27 to Oct. 25.

Crossland Construction Co., headed by Chamber Vice Chairman Ivan Crossland Jr., and its affiliates gave more than $200,000 to the chamber’s political action committee, about $122,000 of which came as a loan. The chamber loaned its PAC $170,00. And Wichita oilman and Chamber Chairman David Murfin gave the chamber $80,000. Outgoing House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, is the chamber’s new president.

Koch Industries gave $50,000 to the state chamber. The Wichita-based company and the political operations it supports have been in the national spotlight because of David and Charles Koch’s impact bolstering conservatives and attacking moderates and liberals from local issues in Wichita to the presidential campaign.

Koch infused the Wichita Area Chamber PAC with $25,000, making up most of the $35,670 that PAC raised since about a week before the Aug. 7 primary. The PAC spent nearly all of that on conservative Republicans.

The visible PAC money makes up only part of the campaign finance picture. Candidates also raise a lot of their own money and make loans to themselves to pay for ads and operations.

Meanwhile, third party groups, including think tanks and nonprofits, can raise unlimited amounts of money without disclosing where they got it and can spend unlimited amounts as long as it’s not in direct support of a candidate. That’s often avoided by urging a voter to be aware of someone’s record and to tell the candidate what you think instead of direct advocacy, such as telling people to “vote for” or “vote against” a specific candidate.

The undisclosed money played a big role in the primary as local and national groups attacked candidates, helping defeat incumbent Republican Sens. Dick Kelsey and Jean Schodorf. Meanwhile, Wichita City Council member Michael O’Donnell, a conservative Republican, withstood a series of blistering ads from a third party to become the Republican candidate in District 25 against Democrat Tim Snow.


Democratic Party apologizes for errors in ads attacking Reps. Scapa and Goodman

Rep. Joseph Scapa, R-Wichita

TOPEKA – The state Democratic Party is apologizing for an inaccurate attack ad against Rep. Joseph Scapa, R-Wichita, and Rep. Jana Goodman, R-Leavenworth, that says they “voted for the largest cut to education in Kansas history.”

The education cut was included in the 2011 state budget, and Scapa and Goodman voted against it.

Republicans immediately accused Democrats of lying about their votes. Democratic Party Chair Joan Wagnon said she called Scapa and Goodman once she realized the error.

Education funding has been one of the most contentious issues in campaigns across the state.

Democrats have accused Gov. Sam Brownback and his supporters of the “largest” cut to education in state history. Meanwhile, Brownback has noted that overall education funding increased by $40 million under the state’s most recent approved budget.

While overall education funding increased, Democrats hone in on per pupil base state aid. During Brownback’s time in office, that per pupil aid was cut by $232. But Republicans have noted that Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson approved a series of cuts that resulted in larger reduction.

Democrats say that Parkinson’s cuts came amid a recession and big shortfalls, and they criticize Brownback for not increasing base aid more now that the economy has improved. This year, Brownback approved a $58 increase to base aid, but Democrats say it should have been more.

They also contend that Brownback’s effort to limit education spending is preparation for cuts to government services that may be forced by the massive income tax-cutting bill he signed into law this year.

Brownback has said he will protect education funding, and he has set up a task force that aims to make the state’s education system more efficient.

Former Congressman Tiahrt endorses Sauceda for Sedgwick County commissioner

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt endorsed Republican Ben Sauceda on Friday for District 2 Sedgwick County Commissioner.

“In a race that highlights the need for common-sense, free market solutions to make our local economy stronger, I am pleased to support Ben for county commission,” Tiahrt said in a news release. “Ben offers a strong work ethic, great ideas and a willingness to listen to and work for the voters of his district.”

District 2 covers south-central Wichita and Haysville. Sauceda is running against Democratic incumbent Tim Norton, who in his third year on the board. Norton is chairman of the commission this year.

TV forum on fluoridation taped; airs tonight on KPTS and KCTU

Lawyer Pamela Ammar and dentist Rob Dakin, left, face off against fluoride opponents Charles Hinshaw, a physician, and chiropractor Stephen L'Hommedieu. Moderator Pat Moyer of KPTS-TV is in the center.

In a KPTS-TV forum taped today, a dentist and lawyer argued that water fluoridation is a common sense measure to save kids from tooth decay, while a doctor and chiropractor argued that it’s ineffective and unsafe.

The TV station shied away from calling it a debate, but both sides came prepared for a spirited argument for their views.

“Is it ethical to medicate entire communities without the individual giving their consent or without an individual diagnosis?” said Stephen C. L’Hommedieu, the anti-fluoride chiropractor. He went on to characterize the type of fluoride used in drinking water as “a toxic industrial hazardous waste produced by the phosphate fertilizer industry.”

The pro-fluoride dentist, Rob Dakin, said he sees a substantial difference in the teeth of his patients who grew up in Wichita and those who grew up in communities with fluoridated water. He said fluoridation would alleviate a lot of pain and suffering.

“There is not a dentist in the world, including myself, who enjoys putting a filling in a 3-year-old child,” he said.

Dakin and his partner, attorney Pamela Ammar, argued that fluoridation, provided to three-fourths of Americans including residents of Maize and El Dorado, has been tested in more than 3,000 studies and found safe, effective and cost effective.

L’Hommedieu and his partner, Robert Hinshaw, a doctor with the Riordan Clinic in Wichita, argued the studies cited by proponents were mostly found inadequate by a study at the University of York, England.

Today’s forum marked the first time the two sides’ leaders shared a stage to argue the issue, which was brought to the ballot by petition.

On Nov. 6, Wichita city voters will decide whether to fluoridate the water for their city and several neighboring communities.

The program airs at today on KPTS and on KCTU-TV, a low-power channel that reaches some areas of Wichita where the KPTS signal is not strong.

The program will re-air twice on KPTS on Friday, at 2:30 and 8 p.m.

Brownback task force opens site for anonymous reports of school inefficiencies

Brownback discusses school spending during a news conference in the Statehouse last week

Gov. Sam Brownback announced Wednesday that his school efficiencies task force has set up a website for people to anonymously report examples of wasteful spending and inefficient practices in Kansas schools.

The website is the latest effort by the Republican Governor to root out inefficiencies in the school system that he recently stressed he has been putting more money into.

Brownback has said not enough money is being spent on classrooms, and he says he wants to improve 4th grade reading levels and the number of students who graduate high school career- or college-ready.

“We hope to hear from a lot of Kansans who take a few minutes to go online and share their thoughts with us,” Task Force Chairman Ken Willard said.

The 10-member task force includes six certified public accountants, including Steve Anderson, Brownback’s budget director. They met for the first time last week, hearing testimony from a limited government think tank and a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Brownback faced criticism from Democrats for not including people on his task force who work in schools. In response, the Kansas Association of School Boards set up its own task force.

Along with the anonymous inefficiency reporting portal, Brownback announced Wednesday that Iola (USD 257) Superintendent Brian Pekarek will join the task force.

Brownback last week stressed that the budget he approved increased school funding by about $40 million. That came as part of his administration’s reaction to a flurry of ads by Democrats that say Brownback has cut school funding more than any other governor.

Under Brownback, the amount of per pupil state aid, a common measurement for how much the state spends on educating each student, has fallen. But overall spending, which includes growing pensions and bond financing, has increased.

“The state has increased total spending on education by almost $1 billion since 2000,” Brownback said in a statement about the online inefficiency reporting. “Many school districts have raised taxes on local property owners during that same time period.  Moving forward, we owe it to Kansas taxpayers to ensure those resources are used as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Democrats have sharply criticized Brownback for the massive income tax cut that he signed into law earlier this year. It is projected to force the state to drastically cut services because it is projected to force more than $2.5 billion in spending reductions over six years.

Brownback has said he will protect education funding. But Democrats say it will be virtually impossible not to cut schools because they constitute the majority of state general fund spending. And they say Brownback is acknowledging the state’s future shortfalls by not ruling out the continuation a temporary sales tax hike approved in 2010 to protect the state from deeper cuts in the wake of the recession.

“Instead of hosting an online forum to complain about public schools, why not discuss all the innovative ways our teachers and administrators have done more with less since Gov. Brownback implemented the largest cut to education funding in Kansas history?” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence. “We should celebrate our public schools and fully restore the funding cuts they’ve endured since the recession began. We should not be demonizing them and searching for excuses to cut their funding even more.”


Health aspects of fluoridated water debated at county meeting

The fluoride fight spilled over into the Sedgwick County Commission chambers Wednesday with about 20 people debating the benefits and risks of putting the cavity-fighting chemical in Wichita’s city drinking water.

The commission has no authority over the decision whether to fluoridate the water, which will be decided by voters in a ballot initiative Nov. 6.

But the county injected itself into the debate when the Health Department put a fact sheet on the county website that fluoride opponents interpreted as being pro-fluoridation.

Fluoride opponent Julie Simpson said she came to the meeting to protest “illegal use of my tax dollars to promote a campaign … taxpayer dollars were improperly used and illegally spent.”

Objections over the fact sheet, which has been removed from the site, prompted commissioners to hold what was essentially an open-mike day, allow both sides to air their views in the meeting televised on local public television.

Proponents of fluoride, including Bill Maas, the former director of the Division of Dental Health at the US Centers for Disease Control, renewed their claim that fluoride at the levels to be used in tap water is safe and effective and more than pays for itself by preventing cavities and the treatment necessary to fix them.

Citing insurance data, Maas said Wichita spends about $25million a year on dental treatments to repair new cavities.

“It’s important that community water fluoridation results in approximately 25 percent reduction in tooth decay,” said Maas, who now works for the Pew Charitable Trust. “It’s safe. I’m not going to give you any percentages because it is absolutely safe. It is cost effective.”

Pressed by commissioners Richard Ranzau and Jim Skelton, he acknowledged that municipal fluoridation can result in a condition called mild fluorosis, in essence white spots caused by crystalline changes in tooth enamel.

He said his own children may have such spots — probably from swallowing fluoride toothpaste as children — but that the spots are harmless and his kids have “beautiful” teeth.

“We (public health officials) accept a tradeoff between very mild fluorosis and (preventing) tooth decay,” he said.

Ranzau said he thinks accepting that tradeoff should be an individual, not a community decision.

And Skelton said he was disturbed that Maas would characterize spots on his daughter’s teeth as beautiful.

“If I found on my daughter’s teeth a substance that is abnormal, caused by chemicals introduced in our water supply … I’d be beyond irritated,” Skelton said. “I would wonder what internal effects would be going on, what kind of white spots is she going to have on her bones, etc. That’s a symptom of something larger, sir.”

Maas replied that there has been more than 30 years of study on fluoridated water by some of the nation’s top researchers, almost all of whom live in communities with fluoridated water.

“We’ve been continuing to study whether there’s any … other health effects from fluoride and none have been detected,” he said.

Skelton responded that scientific research changes conclusions all the time.

“If you’re telling me … you’re able to identify chemicals that are not natural to the body, I think you’ve made my point for me, sir,” Skelton said.

Most of the speakers from the general public were against fluoridation. Several claimed to have health conditions that would be worsened if the fluoride content in the water were increased.

Zella Newberry said she has arthritis, threatening her ability to work as massage therapist.

“The doctors told me I was allergic to something, but that something they didn’t know,” she said. “It turns out it was fluoride and I was getting it in Dr. Pepper, fruits and vegetables with insecticide, toothpaste and all those things”

By dropping the Dr. Pepper and switching to organic vegetables, “I cleared about 75 percent. I can now continue to work, I do have to wear gloves,” she said.

But Leah Barnhart said she had suffered from the lack of fluoride in the water.

She said that although she had the best dental care available and took “impeccable” care of her teeth, she only has five teeth out of 32 without a cap or filling. She said she expects the problem to get worse and more expensive as she ages.

“Looking back, I would have been very happy to pay the nine cents a month or whatever it costs for fluoridated water because it would have reduced the number of cavities in my mouth.”

Brownback attorney and 5 from Wichita area among appeals court judge candidates

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback’s top staff lawyer, Caleb Stegall, and five people from the Wichita area are among 21 candidates vying to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals.

A nominating commission will begin conducting interviews with the applicants Nov. 13 in Topeka. The interviews will be open to the public.

Among the candidates are former Republican House member Sedgwick County District Court Judge Anthony J. Powell, who is a former Republican House Representative, Wichita Municipal Court Judge Bryce A. Abbott, Eastborough lawyer Stephen M. Kerwick, Wichita lawyer David P. Eron, and Wichita lawyer Steven P. Smith.

The Court of Appeals vacancy will be created Jan. 2 when Judge Christel E. Marquardt retires. Another vacancy will also be filled following the death of Judge Richard Greene earlier this week.

Appeals court judges are selected by the governor from a list submitted by the nominating commission. They serve four-year terms.

Here’s a list of all the candidates.

Bryce A. Abbott Judge Wichita Terri L. Bezek Lawyer Topeka Henry R. Cox Lawyer Shawnee David P. Eron Lawyer Wichita Kathryn A. Gardner Lawyer Topeka Patrick B. Hughes Lawyer Leon Keyta D. Kelly Lawyer Leavenworth Stephen M. Kerwick Lawyer Eastborough Kip A. Kubin Lawyer Leawood Christine M.T. Ladner Lawyer Lawrence Matthew C. Miller Lawyer Leawood Clayton T. Norkey Lawyer Overland Park Steven J. Obermeier Lawyer Olathe Anthony J. Powell Judge Wichita Robert W. Ramsdell Lawyer Lawrence Steven M. Roth Judge St. Marys Kim R. Schroeder Judge Hugoton Steven P. Smith Lawyer Wichita Caleb Stegall Lawyer Lawrence Guy R. Steier Judge Clyde Teresa L. Watson Lawyer Topeka

Brownback: Concern about property taxes a Halloween scare tactic

Gov. Sam Brownback Friday called Democrats’ concerns about property taxes a Halloween scare tactic and said his administration won’t raise state property taxes to offset impacts from his income tax cuts.

“We’re not going to raise property taxes and we’re not going to push property tax raises down on people,” Brownback said. “This is a pure scare tactic. It’s close to two things right now — an election and Halloween.”

Brownback, who has staked his and the state’s future on income tax cuts, said his plan will spur more economic growth and jobs than property tax cuts would.

“The best thing we can do for local education is getting the economy growing so you don’t lose your property valuation, but your property valuation stabilizes and goes up, which is what supports a lot of local funding,” Brownback said.

Brownback made his remarks in a speech to the Republican Pachyderm Club.

Speaking directly to absent Democrats, he added: “A part of me also says if you’re so concerned about that then put on a proposal here for something we can do to drop property taxes at the local level instead of just using this scare tactic.”

In their weekly press conference in Topeka, Democratic legislative leaders replied that they had done exactly that and been rebuffed by the Republican-dominated Legislature.

In January, — the day before Brownback unveiled his income-tax plan — Democratic lawmakers floated a proposal to send half of state surplus revenue to local government to buy down residents’ property taxes. The other half would have gone to schools under the Democrats’ proposal.

That proposal was rejected in a House vote mostly along party lines.

“It was just put on the shelf by Republicans because their special-interest friends wanted this massive income tax cut,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence. “If he (Brownback) thinks the talk about property tax increases are a scare tactic, he is absolutely not in touch with what Kansas taxpayers are thinking. People are angry about property taxes.”

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said the governor’s school finance plan removed the cap on how much local school districts can increase their local option budget — a property tax increase that local voters can pass to supplement funding for their own schools.

Hensley said that is essentially an invitation to rich districts to hike property taxes to keep high quality schools for themselves, while property-poor districts suffer declines.

“That’s not a scare tactic, that’s exactly what his plan proposes to do,” he said.

The bulk of Brownback’s speech was a chalk-talk outline of the tax law that he and the Legislature did approve, which is concentrated on income-tax cuts on business and investment income.

The key feature of Brownback’s plan is to eliminate state income taxes on income from limited liability companies, farms, sole proprietorships and corporations organized under Subchapter S of the federal tax code.

The governor said he thinks that will create more jobs by giving business people, especially owners of small business, more money to invest in starting and expanding companies.

Brownback presented a series of slides that showed population declining in Kansas as government spending increased since the 1970s.

In 1970, Kansas was the 28th most populous state in the country. Now, the state ranks 33rd and is expected to drop to 35th by 2020.

“It is factually accurate, but I do not accept this slide,” Brownback said. “I do not accept that line. We are not cast in concrete that we have to drop from the 33rd most populous to the 35th most populous.

“But if we stay with doing what we’re doing right now and we don’t break our trend line, that’s where we’re headed … and I’ve got 30 years of data to show you that the trend line we’ve been on has not been a good trend line and we need to get off of this trend line and get on a growth trend line.”

One of Brownback’s slides showed that Kansas was losing residents to Texas — which doesn’t have a state income tax — and gaining population, albeit a smaller amount, from the higher-tax state of California.

Another slide the governor displayed showed that under his plan, state revenue will decline for the next two years until growth attributable to the tax cuts kicks in.

“Projections, which we think are solid, still have us above where we were in 2010, before we start growing again in receipts to the state,” Brownback said. “And it will be a much more sustainable growth because it’s going to be based on the lower taxes.”

But while Brownback remains optimistic, he acknowledged another period of recession like the one that began in late 2008 could derail the plan.

“These are models, I want to emphasize that again, if we go into a second-dip recession, all this stuff’s off,” he said. “None of this stuff works if we’re in a second-dip recession.”

Cancer in remission, Susan Wagle announces run for Senate’s top job

An energized Sen. Susan Wagle announced Tuesday that she’s cancer-free and ready to make a run for president of the state Senate.

Wagle, R-Wichita, made the announcement at a fund-raiser at the Flint Hills National Golf Club in front of a crowd of donors and politicians including Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Jerry Moran.

Wagle spent much of the summer undergoing chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the body-cleansing lymphatic system. It’s the second time Wagle’s survived a battle with lymphoma, although the strain of the disease she faced this time was different than the one she faced in 1996.

Wagle passed on a chance to seek the Senate presidency in 2004 to care for a son who was afflicted with leukemia.

Wearing a black cap to cover the hair loss caused by her chemotherapy, Wagle got an enthusiastic ovation when she announced that her cancer doctor gave her a clean bill of health last week.

“I finished my last treatment four weeks ago,” she said. “I did all the … tests to see how everything was going just two weeks ago, and he just told me that I am in complete remission.”

Wagle is being challenged by Democrat Patrick Cantwell in the 30th Senate District. The general election is Nov. 6.

Wagle appeared confident of winning and said she is excited to return to Topeka and work with the governor on an agenda of lower taxes, smaller government and reduced regulation of businesses.

A longtime Brownback ally, Wagle praised the governor’s tax plan that was approved by the Legislature earlier this year.

The new law reduces tax rates and entirely eliminates state taxes on income from limited liability companies, farms, sole proprietorships and corporations organized under Subchapter S of the federal tax code.

“It is going to grow the economy and it is going to be good for Kansas and people are going to have more money in their pockets,” Wagle said.

Wagle also praised the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Koch Industries executives Charles and David Koch for providing campaign finance support that wiped out moderate Republicans across the state in the August GOP primary, giving conservatives control of both houses of the Legislature and the governorship.

“We had difficulty getting it (the Brownback tax plan) through the Kansas Senate, because we’ve had some leadership in Kansas that preferred to work with (former Democratic Gov.) Kathleen Sebelius,” Wagle said.

Brownback said he was inspired by Wagle.

“Susan is fabulous,” Brownback said. “She really is inspiring to me for what she’s gone through and how she’s maintained through all this, and maintained a real strength and dignity and beauty through all the trials and tribulation that she’s been through.”

Moran recounted how he had worked with Wagle in the state Legislature, before he went on to the US House and then the Senate.

“Never was there ever a more clear voice of more certain conviction and yet a person more willing to work and to have a conversation to solve our state’s problems,” Moran said.

State Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, said he has abandoned his own plan to run for Senate president in favor of supporting Wagle.

“Susan’s fine,” he said. “I’m going to run for vice president.”

Donovan, chairman of the Senate Taxation Committee, said he had orginally considered going for the top job himself because he was angry with the way that Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, had handled the tax bill in the Legislative session.

But Morris won’t be returning to the Capitol as a senator, voted out of office in the primary election that swept away most of the Senate moderates.