Category Archives: Governor’s race

So the independent polls are inaccurate?

thumbsupdownGov. Sam Brownback’s campaign tried to dismiss a new SurveyUSA poll showing Brownback trailing Democrat Paul Davis by 8 points. “SurveyUSA has a history of inaccurate polling and this is more of the same,” the campaign said in a statement. Actually, SurveyUSA has been one of the more accurate polls in recent state elections. And what about the latest Rasmussen Reports poll, which is Republican leaning and showed Davis up by 10 points? Or the latest survey by Public Policy Polling, which had Davis up by 2 points? Meanwhile, the Brownback campaign released its own “internal poll” Tuesday showing Brownback leading by 1 point. Obviously, much could change between now and the November election, and Brownback and his allies will continue to try to paint Davis as a lackey of President Obama. But the SurveyUSA poll, which was sponsored by KSN, Channel 3, shows the hole Brownback is in right now: He trails Davis in every age, gender and racial category.

Brownback has changed emphasis on K-12 spending

brownback54In a TV ad for his re-election campaign, Gov. Sam Brownback says, “We’re putting more money in public education.” That’s true. Total school funding in Kansas is more for fiscal 2015 than it was in fiscal 2011, when the governor took office. Brownback and others rightly point with pride to increased funding for teacher pensions and capital costs, and to some extra money and local property-tax relief ordered by the courts. But in Brownback’s first gubernatorial campaign and earlier in his term, he complained that too few dollars were making it into Kansas classrooms, even using a questionably low percentage to try to prove his point (in photo). His count-it-all view now seems at odds with his classroom emphasis back then. And as Mark Tallman of the Kansas Association of School Boards recently wrote, “when measured against changes in the cost of living, funding for educational programs that can actually be spent on teachers, administrators and student support programs has declined by $500 million since 2009.” That’s why hearing Brownback’s claims of “more money” for schools makes many of those who work in schools want to raise their hands in objection.

What’s new? Political ad cherry-picks claims

cherry-pickingA new political advertisement by the Republican Governors Association portrays Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis as being devoted to “tax-and-spend” ideas of President Obama. Though information in the ad is partly true, it “falls short because conclusions are based on cherry-picked snapshots that don’t fully explain his (Davis’) record,” the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. “At the same time, the commercial fails to point out actions by Davis that correlate to those of (Gov. Sam) Brownback.” For example, the ad criticizes Davis for voting for several policies and programs that Brownback also supports.

Response to Davis’ call to Tiahrt a sign of divided times

donkeyelephantfightThe phone message that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis left last week for former GOP congressman Todd Tiahrt and his wife, Vicki Tiahrt, was a simple act of kindness. “I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry the election results did not turn out as hoped,” Davis said, reacting to Todd Tiahrt’s loss in his GOP primary bid to unseat successor Mike Pompeo. And the Tiahrts showed similar grace in noting the voice-mail message approvingly on Facebook. But some of the responses to their posts were disappointing, with people calling Davis a “socialist,” telling the Tiahrts they were “being gamely played by Davis” and to “beware of the dark side,” and bringing abortion into it. Yes, social media can be rough these days, but have politics so divided people that they have to seize upon a gracious nonpartisan gesture and rip it to shreds? If so, how sad.

Is Brownback an education governor?

bbackgovGov. Sam Brownback is trying to cast himself as an education governor, arguing that he has overseen “record school funding.” But a Kansas City Star editorial noted that the funding increases were mostly for the state’s pension system and for building and other capital costs. “The money school districts rely on to make their payrolls, purchase classrooms supplies and meet other day-to-day expenses is $548 less on a per-student basis than it was six years ago,” the editorial said. Brownback deserves credit for helping shore up the pension fund, the editorial argued, “but being a ‘pension governor’ isn’t the same as an education governor.”

Unlucky couple of weeks for Brownback campaign

bbackwinGov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign has been having a string of bad luck lately. Brownback won the GOP primary earlier this month, but all the talk was about how his unknown opponent garnered 37 percent of the vote. Then at a GOP celebration event the next day, Brownback had to deal with questions about Standard & Poor’s downgrading the state’s credit rating. Then on the same day last week that Brownback unveiled his new campaign “road map,” Rasmussen Reports released a poll showing Brownback trailing his Democratic challenger, Paul Davis, by 10 percentage points. Then it was discovered that his new campaign commercial included a shot in which a Davis campaign sign could be seen behind Brownback. It could be a long campaign unless his luck picks up.

So they said

norquist“Kansas has passed law to phase out the personal and corporate income tax as state revenue increases over time. This is why Left is livid.” – Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist (in photo), on Twitter earlier this month

“The biggest, shiniest prize for Democrats this November is in the most unlikely state – Kansas.” – Fox News political analyst Juan Williams, mentioning the gubernatorial race in a column for the Hill

“An idea: A national news organization should put a reporter in Kansas from Labor Day until Election Day. Absolutely fascinating state.” – Washington Post political blogger Chris Cillizza, tweeting after GOP primary

More tough polling news for Brownback

bbackmugPaul Davis, Democratic candidate for Kansas governor.  2014The new Rasmussen Reports poll in the governor’s race was quite a switch from mid-April, when the firm found incumbent Sam Brownback (left) leading House Minority Leader Paul Davis (right) 47 to 40 percent. Now Rasmussen says Davis is leading 51 to 41 percent – even though, as reported by the Lawrence Journal-World, 19 percent of those polled haven’t heard of him. That’s a powerful reflection of Kansans’ discontent with Brownback, as are the findings that 40 percent approve of the job he is doing and 49 percent say the budget situation has worsened in the past year. Davis leads among women, men and all age groups, with Brownback much preferred by those who haven’t finished high school or pursued schooling beyond it. The survey of 750 “likely voters” was conducted on Aug. 6-7, the two days after the governor lost 37 percent of Republicans to an unknown primary challenger.

Kansas governor’s race now considered toss-up

bbackoathAfter looking at the latest polling and campaign finance disclosures in Kansas’ gubernatorial contest, Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics shifted it from “leans Republican to toss-up” this week. It concluded: “Kansas is so Republican that we won’t be surprised if this one teeter-totters back in (Gov. Sam) Brownback’s direction – but the governor has a lot of fence-mending to do, and quickly.”

Colyer tries to fool Kansans twice

colyerIt’s hard to believe that Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer tried the same trick twice. On New Year’s Eve last year, the last day of the campaign finance reporting period, Colyer loaned the Brownback campaign $500,000 – the largest campaign loan in state history. Several days later, reporters asked Colyer and Gov. Sam Brownback about the loan, which looked suspiciously like it was aimed at inflating the campaign’s fundraising total to match the fundraising of the Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis. Colyer told the Lawrence Journal-World that the loan represented his commitment to making a better future for Kansas kids. Brownback told the Kansas City Star that the loan would allow him to take his message to voters this winter and spring. Neither of them disclosed that the campaign had already repaid Colyer for the loan, on Jan. 2. Now, Colyer has done it again. On July 23, a day before the latest reporting period ended, Colyer again loaned the campaign $500,000. And again, the campaign claimed that the loan was merely a sign of Colyer’s commitment to the campaign.

Why big difference in gubernatorial polls?

thumbsupdownA new poll from the research firm YouGov, in partnership with the New York Times and CBS News, has Gov. Sam Brownback ahead of his Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, by 10 points, 47 to 37 percent. Yet SurveyUSA polls, sponsored by KSN, Channel 3, have consistently shown Davis ahead, including one released last week that had Davis up 8 points, 48 to 40 percent. How could there be such a big difference? The YouGov poll is using a new sampling method based on an online panel, while SurveyUSA uses the traditional method of random telephone surveys. The non-probability online panel is controversial, and it tends to underrepresent minorities (only 4.4 percent in the Kansas poll). Ultimately, the only polling that matters is what happens in the voting booth.

Age split in polling on governor’s race

brownbackhandPaul Davis, Democratic candidate for Kansas governor.  2014One might suspect that younger adults would be the age group least supportive of Gov. Sam Brownback’s (left) re-election, given his stance on gay marriage and other social issues. But a new SurveyUSA poll, sponsored by KSN, Channel 3, shows younger voters as Brownback’s biggest backers. Though he trails Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis (right) by 8 points overall, 40 to 48 percent, Brownback leads by 15 points with voters younger than age 35. Brownback also has a 4-point lead with 35- through 49-year-olds. Davis leads by 13 points with 50- through 64-year-olds and by 20 points with those 65 and older. Also of note: Davis’ lead in the Wichita area is 7 points, nearly identical to the statewide results. Davis leads by 15 points with women and by 2 points with men. And on the issue of education, Davis leads by a whopping 58 points, 76 to 18 percent.

So they said

brownbackofficialmug“It’s law. It’s going to happen.” – Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo), saying he opposes the proposal of his Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, to postpone additional scheduled state income tax cuts

“Western Kansas sees it as not real Kansas.” – Kansas Republican Party executive director Clay Barker, to the Hill newspaper, about Johnson County, home to U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf

“Rolling into Dodge City. I wonder if there are any recliners for rent.” – Wolf, tweeting a dig at Sen. Pat Roberts’ February statement that he has “full access to the recliner” at the home of some Dodge City donors

“They’re a bunch of humorless has-beens who don’t like being outed as Democrats.” – Rep. J.R. Claeys, R-Salina, in the Salina Journal, doubling down on his recent tweet that Democrat Paul Davis’ gubernatorial campaign “really raided the nursing home” to find the Republicans endorsing him

Health compact another grievance against Brownback

morrissteve2Saying “it is OK to support a high-quality Democrat for governor,” former Kansas Senate President Steve Morris (in photo) explained to the Garden City Telegram that the concerns that led him to join the more than 100 Republicans endorsing Democrat Paul Davis over Gov. Sam Brownback went beyond the “huge deficits” that are likely because of the 2012 income tax cuts and the ongoing raid on transportation funds. He also pointed to the 2014 passage of the health care compact law, a multistate mutiny against the Affordable Care Act that could lead to Kansas taking over senior citizens’ health care. “To try and take over Medicare? No other state’s ever done that. It would be a total train wreck,” Morris said. As the Kansas Republican Party was quick to point out, some of the Republicans for Davis “were thrown out by Kansas voters.” Morris was among those moderates ousted in the Brownback-led purge of 2012.

National media spotlight on Kansas (but not in a favorable way)

statesealMaybe former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum wasn’t exaggerating when he said last week that the “future of the free world” hinges on Kansas’ gubernatorial race. National media are certainly treating Kansas’ political and economic news as major stories. Click here to read excerpts from a few recent commentaries.

So they said

santorum“Sam Brownback ruffles feathers. He takes on dragons.” – former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (in photo), campaigning in Olathe for the governor’s re-election

“Reagan didn’t turn the country around in the first six months of tax reduction. I think we’re in fine shape.” – Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist, telling Bloomberg that criticism of Brownback’s tax cuts is unwarranted and Kansas is the “point of the spear”

“Well, they don’t call the Senate the assisted living home for nothing.” – Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., after a Johnson County GOP official inadvertently introduced him as the state’s “senior citizen” rather than its senior senator

“I think he’s a fine man. He just lacks leadership skills. Washington is in a deadlock, but that might be a good thing when you’re talking about government.” – former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, talking about President Obama during a Cottonwood Falls visit

Davis endorsements a ‘RINO stampede’?

elephantfightThe national political media, including some opinionated observers, lit up over Tuesday’s endorsement by dozens of Kansas Republicans of Democrat Paul Davis for governor. “RINO stampede in Kansas,” declared American Thinker. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne tweeted: “What’s the matter with #Kansas? 104 Republicans oppose Gov. Sam #Brownback because his tax cuts went too far.” Breitbart.com called the 104 “mostly long-retired or recently fired moderate, establishment Republicans” and the move a “spiteful strike against the voters of Kansas who threw many of them out of office.” Closer to home, former Kansas House Speaker Doug Mays initially tweeted, “I was surprised at the list of R’s endorsing Rep. Davis. I actually thought about 1/3 of them had died.” A later tweet apologized for his “intemperate, insensitive remark…. I violated my own rules & philosophy regarding political discourse.”

Davis backers include area school board members

davis,paulThe 104 current and former Republican officials who are endorsing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis (in photo) include several area school board members, reflecting the strained relationship between school districts and Gov. Sam Brownback. “As a 13-year local board of education member, I know four more years of the current governor will not be good for kids or Kansas,” Wichita school board member Lynn Rogers said. Other area GOP school board members include Gail Jamison, Sara McDonald and Kevin McWhorter of Goddard; Roger Elliott of Andover; and Janet Sprecker of Derby. Carol Rupe Linnens, former member of both the Wichita school board and the Kansas State Board of Education, spoke at the announcement event in Topeka Tuesday. “We need a governor who values our schools and makes them a top priority,” she said.

Will Brownback-Davis end the way Brownback-Docking did?

bbackoathA National Journal article headlined “Can a Democrat Win in Kansas?” reported the polling showing Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is vulnerable to the challenge by House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, amid the state’s deepening revenue problems. It concluded with an interesting flashback: “A Cook Political Report race ranking by Charlie Cook on the 1996 Kansas Senate contest – when Brownback first ran for Senate against Democrat Jill Docking, Davis’ running mate this year – reads like a preview of this year’s gubernatorial race. The summary comes complete with moderate grievances against Brownback for his conservative record…. The race was considered a toss-up to the end, when Brownback ultimately defeated Docking by 10 percentage points.”

Brownback polling poorly in Wichita, among women

brownbackofficialmugOne of the most striking findings in a new poll on the Kansas gubernatorial race is how poorly Gov. Sam Brownback is doing in Wichita. Statewide, Brownback trails his Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, by 6 points, 41 to 47 percent, in a SurveyUSA poll sponsored by KSN, Channel 3. But in Wichita, Brownback is behind by a whopping 15 points, 36 to 51 percent. What’s even more stunning, Brownback trails his GOP primary opponent, Jennifer Winn, among Wichitans by 3 points, 45 to 48 percent. Statewide, Brownback leads Winn 55 to 37 percent, which still isn’t that great, considering how few people have even heard of Winn. Also of note in the survey is the sizable gender gap. Statewide, Brownback narrowly leads Davis 44 to 43 percent among men. But among women surveyed, Brownback trails Davis 37 to 51 percent. Brownback also is far behind Davis among moderates (23 to 69 percent) and independents (27 to 46 percent), two groups that sometimes swing close elections.

Brownback must work for win

bbackwinBecause of “hard-right policies that have upset GOP moderates,” political scientist Larry Sabato included Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback among four incumbent governors – along with Georgia’s Nathan Deal, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and Hawaii’s Neil Abercrombie – who “have had enough missteps or managed to create enough opposition so that they must work hard for second terms” and whose “upset cannot be ruled out.” Sabato, of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, wrote in Politico Magazine: “Just as the Senate map this year favors Republicans because of a heavy concentration of solid red states, the governorship map leans slightly toward Democrats because a few GOP executives elected in the 2010 Republican landslide are vulnerable in blue or competitive states.”

Data favors a second Brownback term

bbackoathGov. Sam Brownback has a strong 78 percent chance of winning re-election in November, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of early polling in all 36 gubernatorial elections and the accuracy of such polling data since 2006. Republicans currently hold 29 governorships, and the site’s Harry Enten concluded that “Republicans are favorites to hold most Republican seats, and Democrats are likely to hold most Democratic seats.”

Brownback campaign a ‘man-bites-dog story’

brownbackofficialmugGov. Sam Brownback’s difficult re-election campaign is a compelling story because Kansas is such a red state and this is shaping up to be a big year for Republicans nationally, Jeff Roe, a GOP consultant based in Kansas City, told National Public Radio. “It’s a man-bites-dog story – can a Republican lose in Kansas?” Roe said. But Roe thinks that Brownback will pull away in the end and cruise to victory. “This is going to be a fun race to watch in May and June,” Roe said, “and a real boring one to watch in October and November.”

So they said

bbackmug“Kansas is, at last, escaping the economic death spiral it had been in. My ‘Road Map for Kansas’ is working.” – Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo), in the fundraising letter in which he misstated dates regarding the state’s finances and referred to Democratic opponent Paul Davis (in boldface type) as “a liberal lawyer from Lawrence who was a two-time delegate for Barack Obama”

“Kansas is the most changed state in America.” – Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, touting the administration’s economic, education and pro-life records at a Saline County Republican candidate forum

“Most good things that last are bipartisan.” – former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, to Kansas Public Radio, about working with Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy to pass the Americans With Disabilities Act

“I’d love to have a magic wand to bring some of your sanity back to Washington. You are missed.” – former Democratic Gov. John Carlin, visiting with Dole in Salina on Tuesday

“Probably the best thing we did this spring was we got out of town after 79 days.” – Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, on the legislative session

“It was amazing how hardheaded those folks were. They just couldn’t accept the fact that they got beat.” – Hineman again, on opponents of renewable energy standards

Brownback’s cash-reserves claim not the full story

cashSam Brownback loves to mention, as he did in a campaign fundraising letter this month, that the state had only $876 in the bank when he became governor, and that it now has hundreds of millions of dollars in cash reserves. But as Eagle reporter Bryan Lowry noted, the $876 was actually the balance on the last day of the fiscal year six months before Brownback was sworn in. And a main reason why the reserves rebounded was that Brownback’s predecessor, former Gov. Mark Parkinson, and the Legislature approved a temporary sales tax increase. What’s more, Brownback opposed that sales tax increase when he campaigned for governor. But after he was elected, he opposed revoking it and convinced the Legislature to make part of the increase permanent. And if the size of the cash balance is the measure of fiscal responsibility, shouldn’t Kansans be concerned that the balance is dropping rapidly because of state income tax cuts (which Brownback also fails to mention)?