Category Archives: Governor’s race

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)?

Will Brownback lose some support from senior citizens?

votingbooth2A recent Rasmussen Reports poll had Gov. Sam Brownback leading his presumed Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, by 47 to 40 percent. What’s most interesting is the demographic divide of those polled. Brownback leads among men, while Davis is ahead among women. Davis has a 20-percentage point lead in the 18- to 39-year-old age bracket, while Brownback is up by 9 points among 40- to 64-year-olds and by 17 points among those 65 and older. Older citizens are more likely to vote than younger ones, which benefits Brownback. But will Brownback lose some of his support from senior citizens now that he has signed a bill that could give the state control of Medicare?

Brownback ahead in new poll

thumbsupGov. Sam Brownback is leading his presumed Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, by 47 to 40 percent, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll. Surveys by two other polling groups had Davis alightly ahead in the potential fall matchup. Davis led by 42 to 37 percent among independent voters in the Rasmussen poll.

More polling problems for Brownback

brownbackofficialmugAnother Public Policy Polling survey has found Gov. Sam Brownback lagging Democratic challenger Paul Davis. In the firm’s April 1-2 poll of 886 Kansas voters (52 percent Republicans and 30 percent Democrats), 45 percent said they would vote for Davis, a Lawrence attorney who is the House minority leader, if the gubernatorial election were held today; 41 percent favored Brownback and 14 percent weren’t sure. Fifty-two percent said Kansas should accept the new federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage, and 41 percent said Brownback’s opposition to expansion would make them less likely to vote for him. In a February survey by the same North Carolina-based firm, Davis led Brownback 42 to 40 percent. The latest PPP survey was funded by the liberal group MoveOn.org, and a Brownback campaign spokesman dismissed the results.

Governing notes competitiveness of Brownback-Davis race

capitoldomeGoverning magazine has shifted Kansas’ 2014 gubernatorial race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican,” noting Gov. Sam Brownback’s low approval ratings and the “emergence of a plausible contender: state House Minority Leader Paul Davis.” The magazine said: “Despite being a solidly red state, Brownback’s staunchly conservative agenda – and that of Kansas’ even more conservative Republican legislators – hasn’t been universally loved.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post misstated Governing’s change in the race’s status.

Another nod to Davis’ polling strength

davis,paulSabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics has revised the Kansas gubernatorial rating for 2014 from “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican,” based on polling suggesting Gov. Sam Brownback might be vulnerable to Democratic challenger Paul Davis (in photo), who is the House minority leader. In Kansas, the website noted, “the centrist Republicans and Democrats will sometimes effectively work together to block the conservative Republicans” and “Brownback has governed as a staunch conservative.” Sabato’s Crystal Ball also observed that “it is surprising to check the history and see that over the past 50 years, the Sunflower State has been governed more often by a Democrat (28 of the last 50 years)” than has Massachusetts (24 of the last 50 years).

More bad polling results for Brownback

thumbsdownOnly 33 percent of Kansans approve of Gov. Sam Brownback’s job performance and 51 percent disapprove, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling. What’s more, only 46 percent of Republicans approve of the job Brownback is doing. In comparison, 34 percent of Kansans approve of President Obama’s job performance (though 60 percent disapprove). Brownback’s high disapproval rating is likely why he slightly trails House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, in a head-to-head matchup. Davis leads 42 percent to Brownback’s 40 percent, even though 59 percent of the people surveyed weren’t sure what they thought of Davis.

Poll has Brownback ahead; Davis called ‘credible’

davis,paul“Is Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback at risk of losing re-election in a state Mitt Romney carried with 60 percent?” asked Stu Rothenberg’s blog for Roll Call, concluding that polling and fundraising are making House Minority Leader Paul Davis (in photo), D-Lawrence, look “like a credible contender. He has quickly consolidated the Democratic base while Brownback still has some work to do in rallying Republicans.” Even though a new GOP poll finds Brownback ahead of Davis by 42 to 31 percent, the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race has been changed from “Safe Republican” to “Republican Favored.”

Lt. governor’s campaign loan is unprecedented

money-bagThe $500,000 loan that Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer made to the re-election campaign of Gov. Sam Brownback appears to be unprecedented in Kansas history, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. Carol Williams, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, said she can remember no loan of that size from a candidate. Colyer said the loan shows his team’s commitment to the state and the administration’s policies. “The governor and I are very convinced in making sure that we have a better future for kids,” he told the Journal-World. But the campaign of House Minority Leader Paul Davis, the likely Democratic challenger, said that the loan shows the strength of Davis, who raised nearly as much money as Brownback did last year but in less than half the time.

Loan inflated Brownback’s fundraising total

colyerThe fundraising of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, looks even more impressive with the news that $500,000 of Gov. Sam Brownback’s announced fundraising total was a last-minute loan from his running mate, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (in photo). Not counting the loan, Brownback raised about $1.1 million last year, while Davis raised $1 million in just four months of the year. Davis also had more donors contribute to his campaign last year than Brownback. Because of donations he received in previous years, Brownback still has a significant money lead. But Davis is off to a fast start, and the Colyer loan suggests that the Brownback camp is getting nervous.

Give Docking some credit for Davis’ fast fundraising

dockingHouse Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, is getting attention for raising $1 million from 3,359 donors in 2013 for his challenge to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. That’s a lot raised in just 145 days, and for a candidate with little statewide name recognition. But credit also is surely due his prominent running mate, Wichita financial adviser Jill Docking (in photo), who had passed the million-dollar mark once before: Docking spent $1.1 million in her losing 1996 Senate race against then-congressman Brownback (of a total $5.5 million officially spent on the contest to succeed Sen. Bob Dole). But after 20 years in politics, Brownback is a champion campaign fundraiser, and predictably ended 2013 with $2 million to spend from 10,000 donors.

Davis a candidate to watch in 2014

davis,paulThe National Journal listed Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, as a candidate to watch in 2014. Davis is running for governor this year, and the Journal said that “a right-wing takeover” of the Kansas GOP is driving moderate Republicans toward Davis. It noted that Davis had a slight lead over Gov. Sam Brownback in a SurveyUSA poll taken last fall. However, it still considers Brownback the favorite in this race “barring additional evidence.”

‘The Fix’ is in on next year’s gubernatorial race

davis,paulThe Washington Post’s political blog, “The Fix,” has included Kansas in the top 15 gubernatorial races of 2014. “This dark red state’s debut on our list will surprise many,” the blog said, but “it’s hard to ignore polls.” Gov. Sam Brownback had only a 34 percent approval rating in a SurveyUSA poll last month. And of registered voters surveyed in that poll, 43 percent said they would vote for House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence (in photo), and running mate Jill Docking; 39 percent favored Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer. Money and Republican registration advantages still favor Brownback in the race, but as “The Fix” noted: “This one’s worth keeping an eye on, at the very least.”

Fundraising will be early test for Davis, Docking

An initial test of the strength of the gubernatorial campaign of House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, will be the Jan. 10 deadline for filing campaign-finance reports, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Will Davis and running mate Jill Docking be able to translate their slight lead over Gov. Sam Brownback in a recent poll into financial support for their campaign? Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty estimated that the Davis campaign would need to spend at least $1.5 million to have a chance at unseating Brownback. More likely, it will need at least twice that much.