Category Archives: Kansas delegation

So they said

robertsmug“With all due respect to Mr. Reid, I don’t think that James Madison’s wig fits on his head.” – Sen. Pat Roberts (in photo), R-Kan., in Paola, criticizing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s planned Sept. 8 vote on a constitutional amendment to limit the money that can be donated to campaigns

“War on Women much?” – National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring, to the Weekly Standard, referring to how Chad Taylor, the Democrat challenging Roberts, drew national attention in 2011 when he announced his Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office, after a budget cut, would no longer prosecute misdemeanors including some domestic violence cases

“And you thought dumping ice water on your head was cold.” – Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., on GOP House members, including Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, who participated in an ALS fundraising challenge but voted to cut $1.5 billion from the 2011 budget of the National Institutes of Health, a portion of which went to ALS research

“I felt the helicopter hit something; later, someone said it was a rock. I thought the pilot would right it, but then I saw the ground come up…. Stuff fell on me; I didn’t know if they were people or things.” – New York Times foreign correspondent Alissa Rubin (formerly of The Eagle), describing the crash of a helicopter evacuating Yazidis in Kurdistan that left her with broken bones and a fractured skull

Need to start paying attention to Orman

orman,gregGreg Orman faces long odds as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate in Kansas. But a recent poll and noteworthy endorsement make the Olathe businessman someone to watch. A survey released last week by Public Policy Polling showed Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., leading the race with 32 percent support, followed by Democrat Chad Taylor at 25 percent, Orman at 23 percent and Libertarian Randall Batson at 3 percent. But if the race were just between Orman and Roberts, Orman would be leading 43 to 33 percent, according to the survey. (Roberts leads Taylor 43 to 39 percent in a head-to-head matchup.) Orman also was endorsed last week by Jim Sherow, the Democratic candidate in the 1st Congressional District. Sherow said that Orman “presents the best chance at providing Kansas new energy in the U.S. Senate.” A big challenge Orman faces – in addition to the fact that it’s a four-way race, not a two-way one – is that he has only 36 percent name recognition, according to the survey. But among those who have an opinion about him, he is seen favorably by Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Moran hopeful GOP can end gridlock in Senate

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Update: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Moran’s position on term limits.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said he is serving as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee because he wants to end the gridlock in the U.S. Senate, not because he loves politics, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. “If the Republicans get the majority and we can’t function, then I don’t know what the next step is,” Moran said at a candid town hall meeting in Baldwin City this week. Departing from the GOP rhetoric that unrealistically vows to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Moran spoke of possible changes to the law that President Obama might support – such as increasing the work threshold for when employers must provide health insurance from 30 hours a week to 40 hours. He also said he supports term limits but could make a case pro and con. “Many in Kansas see our glory days in the Senate as those of Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum, and both were in the Senate a long time,” he said.

GOP looks strong in most down-ballot statewide races

thumbsupdownBeyond the headline, which was “Roberts, Brownback both struggling in Kansas,” the latest survey results from Public Policy Polling were about as expected in this heavily Republican state. Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s lead over Democrat Jean Schodorf was only 43 to 38 percent in the survey of 903 likely voters conducted Aug. 14-17, but Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Treasurer Ron Estes were favored by 24 percentage points over their respective Democratic challengers, A.J. Kotich and Carmen Alldritt. And Ken Selzer, the winner of this month’s GOP primary for insurance commissioner, was leading Democrat Dennis Anderson 43 to 29 percent. One data point further indicates that losing GOP challenger Milton Wolf has left a mark on Kansans’ view of Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.: 61 percent said the senior senator does not spend enough time in Kansas.

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.

Poll suggests Pat Roberts can’t exhale yet

roberts3A Rasmussen Reports poll this week indicated that a fourth term for Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., still isn’t a sure thing, even though he dispatched tea partier Milton Wolf in the GOP primary. The firm found Roberts leading Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, the Democratic candidate, by only 44 to 40 percent – though 34 percent hadn’t heard of Taylor. Roberts was favored by male voters (49 to 38 percent) and Taylor by women (43 to 39 percent) and younger voters (41 to 32 percent), as reported by the Lawrence Journal-World. The poll also showed a sizable 49 percent unfavorable view of Roberts – likely at least in part because the survey was done right after his nasty TV ad war with Wolf. The poll didn’t include the wild-card candidacy of well-funded independent Greg Orman. But the Cook Political Report switched the Senate race in Kansas from “Solid R” to “Likely R,” and the New York Times’ politics blog the Upshot observed: “It’s hard to imagine Mr. Roberts actually losing, but something is brewing in Kansas.”

Kansas senators hardly the biggest spenders

monopolymanKansas Republicans Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts showed up midway through a ranking of what U.S. Senate offices cost in a year. According to data from the Sunlight Foundation, Moran’s office spent $2.6 million between April 2013 and March 2014, compared with the $2.5 million spent by Roberts’ office. The biggest spenders were California Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, who each spent more than $4 million, followed by Florida Republican Marco Rubio and Texas Republicans Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. In going over the numbers, which don’t include costs of leadership offices, the Washington Post noted that the Senate spent more than $370,000 in a year in staff costs on hairstylists and barbers.

Wall Street Journal editorial congratulates Kansas voters

pompeo2Because the incumbents all won, Kansas’ GOP primary didn’t deliver the drama that had been forecast for the congressional races by the national political media. But the Wall Street Journal editorial board hailed the victories of “spending reformers” Mike Pompeo (in photo) and Tim Huelskamp over “challenges from corporate rent-seekers. Their victories ought to give Republicans in Congress the confidence to buck crony capitalists,” the editorial board wrote. The editorial noted approvingly that both had voted against the farm bill, that Huelskamp wants to eliminate the pro-ethanol renewable fuel standard and that Pompeo wants to end all energy subsidies, also describing Todd Tiahrt as Pompeo’s “pork-barrel predecessor.” It concluded: “Congratulations to Kansas voters for rewarding principle, and we hope Republicans across the country take the message.”

So they said

brewer,carl“You can’t get blood from a turnip. They don’t have it to give us.” – Mayor Carl Brewer (in photo), on a suggestion that the city seek $20 million a year from the state to help fund the Equus Beds recharge project

“He’s much funnier. I don’t try to compete with him.” – Former Sen. Bob Dole, on MSNBC, on whether he or Sen. Pat Roberts is funnier

“Is Roberts dust in the wind or will he carry on?” – Headline on a Fox News online story before last week’s primary between Sen. Pat Roberts and Milton Wolf

“Can you believe that? The next Ted Cruz is Barack Obama’s unapologetic conservative cousin.” – Wolf, in the Washington Post, visiting with Eureka voters before losing the primary

Huelskamp not chastened by close election

huelskamp,timAfter not having been endorsed by the state’s largest agriculture organizations, and after a virtually unknown opponent won 45 percent of the vote in the GOP primary Tuesday, you might think that U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, would be a little chastened. You might think he would commit himself to becoming a productive member of Congress. But no. Huelskamp lashed out Wednesday against “a shadowy, out-of-state super PAC” that smeared his reputation, and said that he “will not be bullied.” That’s been Huelskamp’s pattern: Blame others for his own failings, then double down on those failings.

Beware of last-minute campaign mailers, ads

mud.jpbHeading into the final weekend before Tuesday’s primary, voters should beware of last-minute mailers and ads attacking political candidates. Such claims usually are misleading and exaggerated. The worst offenders often aren’t the opposing candidates but third-party groups. For example, Americans for Prosperity-Kansas – a critic of public education and education funding – has been attacking some pro-education lawmakers for not voting last session for a school funding bill (that also eliminated state-mandated due-process rights for teachers and granted tax credits for business donations to private schools). Mailers proclaim that “when our schools needed a lifeline,” the lawmakers voted “no.” The cynicism and hypocrisy are stunning. Political action committees also have launched new TV ads attacking congressional candidates, including Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita.

Pompeo and Tiahrt both pandering on impeachment

ObamaIn their testy Sunday debate on KNSS Radio 1330-AM, both Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and former Rep. Todd Tiahrt said they would vote to impeach President Obama (in photo). “If such a bill were introduced, I would,” Pompeo said, jumping into a criticism of the “absolute overreach” of the administration. Tiahrt said Obama “had broken the law” and he also proudly declared: “I’ve already voted to impeach Bill Clinton on all four counts.” Saying they’d vote to impeach Obama is like a future juror declaring someone guilty even before charges are filed, testimony is heard and jury deliberations are held. Shouldn’t they be above such right-wing pandering?

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

When candidates don’t debate, voters lose

debateThe hot races of the unseasonably cool summer in Kansas have seen a scarcity of debates. That may serve candidates strategically but makes losers of the voters. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and former Rep. Todd Tiahrt sparred at a Wichita Crime Commission forum and have agreed to debate on TV (6:30 p.m. Monday, KWCH, Channel 12) and radio (6 p.m. July 27, KNSS 1330-AM). Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, and challenger Alan LaPolice shared the stage at a Liberal event. Secretary of State Kris Kobach and GOP challenger Scott Morgan both spoke to Wichita Pachyderm Club members on Friday. But there have been too few public face-offs, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has declined to debate tea partier Milton Wolf. As the Kansas City Star’s Steve Kraske said in expressing disappointment in Roberts: “At election time, we expect our candidates to stand side by side with their opponents and address the day’s pressing issues. At least once, right?”

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

Orman ad likely resonates with Kansans

orman,gregGreg Orman faces long odds running as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate in Kansas. But a campaign advertisement he released last week likely will resonate with many Kansans. It shows red and blue teams competing in a muddy tug-of-war contest. “Washington’s stuck between two parties who care more about winning than they care about our country,” Orman says in the ad, adding that “most Kansans just want government to live within its means and stop telling the rest of us how to live our lives.”

No wonder farm groups aren’t backing Huelskamp

huelskamp,timThe decision by top Kansas farm groups not to endorse Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, speaks a thousand words about Huelskamp’s misplaced priorities and belligerent behavior. Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Livestock Association refused to endorse Huelskamp, who was kicked off the House Agriculture Committee and has voted repeatedly against farm bills. And this wasn’t an insider decision; local committees in each county in Huelskamp’s district voted on whom Farm Bureau should endorse. Though Huelskamp’s combative, uncompromising style gets him bookings on cable TV talk shows, it has made him an ineffective representative for the farmers and ranchers in his district – and anyone else who wants to see results, not just “no” votes.

Tiahrt not impressed by 57 votes against Obamacare

tiahrtnewmugA campaign commercial by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, brags that he has voted 57 times against Obamacare. His GOP primary opponent, former Rep. Todd Tiahrt, isn’t impressed. Somewhere between the seventh and 57th vote they should have figured out it wouldn’t work, Tiahrt told The Eagle editorial board. The GOP House needs to pick its fights wisely, Tiahrt said, and use its power over the purse strings to get what it wants. Pompeo concedes that “there is a little bit of repetition” to some of the votes. But he told the editorial board that the Affordable Care Act is such an enormous change that House Republicans have an obligation to continue to make their case and express their vision.

No surprise that KochPAC prefers Pompeo

pompeo2“KochPAC is proud to support Mike Pompeo for Congress based on his strong support for market-based policies and economic freedom, which benefits society as a whole,” Mark Nichols, vice president of government and public affairs for Koch Industries, told Politico. That’s not surprising, as the Wichita Republican has been closely associated, politically and ideologically, with Koch Industries. Some liberal groups even call Pompeo the congressman from Koch. But Koch had also been a longtime backer of Pompeo’s opponent, Todd Tiahrt. The former representative received nearly $330,000 from Koch’s political action committee and Koch employees during his eight terms in Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Is tea party challenge making Roberts cranky?

roberts2Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., “has never been the cheeriest guy in the Senate,” Politico reported this week. But the GOP primary challenge by Milton Wolf “has sent the senator into a frequent state of agitation.” Roberts “has appeared increasingly on edge, several of his colleagues say, and his voting pattern, according to rankings by conservative groups, has shifted markedly to the right,” the website reported. When asked by The Eagle editorial board last week about Wolf’s charge that he is a career politician who is out of touch with Kansas, Roberts noted that he recently completed a listening tour of all 105 Kansas counties. “That’s just ridiculous,” he said.

Moran, Roberts disagree on federal media shield law

justiceladyMore than 70 media organizations recently sent a letter to the U.S. Senate leaders asking for a vote on the Free Flow of Information Act, a media shield law meant to help protect reporters when federal prosecutors try to compel them to reveal their sources. “The ability to protect confidential sources is the oxygen that investigative reporting needs to survive,” the organizations wrote. Asked last week by The Eagle editorial board about a federal shield law, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said he sponsored such a bill in the House and likely would be supportive as a senator. Moran pointed to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal as a great example of investigative journalism and its benefits. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told the editorial board that such a law shouldn’t be needed if the First Amendment is applied properly. The issue has taken on more urgency since the U.S. Supreme Court declined last month to take up the case of New York Times reporter James Risen, who was told by a federal appeals court to testify in the case of a CIA officer accused of leaking classified information related to Iran’s nuclear program.

McConnell takes another step forward on tankers

kc-46atankerThe new KC-46A tanker mission at McConnell Air Force Base took another welcome step forward Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony for the infrastructure work, which includes three new hangars. McConnell was selected last year to be the main active-duty operating base for the tankers, and the first of 36 tankers are expected to begin arriving in early 2016. There has been some bickering lately between Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and his GOP primary challenger, former Rep. Todd Tiahrt, about who deserves credit for the project. But many people worked for years to secure the project, which is a big and needed economic boost for the region. As Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told The Eagle editorial board Monday, “What a wonderful day for Wichita.”

Roberts, Kobach doing better than Brownback

robertsmugkobachThough Gov. Sam Brownback is trailing his Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, in a new poll, two other incumbents are faring better. Sen. Pat Roberts (left), R-Kan., is leading Milton Wolf in the GOP primary by 56 to 23 percent, according to a SurveyUSA poll sponsored by KSN, Channel 3. He also leads his potential Democratic opponent, Chad Taylor, 43 to 33 percent. (Of note: Taylor leads Wolf in a hypothetical general election matchup 36 to 33 percent.) Secretary of State Kris Kobach (right) leads GOP challenger Scott Morgan 61 to 29 percent, and he is ahead of Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf 47 to 41 percent. In Wichita, Schodorf leads Kobach 51 to 40 percent.

So they said

sebeliuswhite“Not a chance.” – former Obama Cabinet member Kathleen Sebelius (in photo), asked Friday whether she’d run for office again in Kansas

“I congratulate Thad Cochran on winning the Democratic primary in Mississippi.” – Milton Wolf, tea party challenger to Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., tweeting after the Mississippi senator narrowly escaped a tea party challenge

“Attn. pundits: Unlike MS, in KS voters are registered by party and legislature took steps to minimize Democrat voting in GOP primary.” – Roberts campaign manager Leroy Towns, tweeting about the same election

“I don’t think we should acquiesce to bad laws.” – Lawrence City Commissioner Terry Riordan, on the city’s refusal to repeal its concealed knife ordinance even though a new state law prohibits local bans

“Sen. Wagle is probably as honest as anybody about this.” – Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, on Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, saying a goal of the tax cuts was to force budget cuts

Politics at all levels has room for improvement

debate“Change second terms of presidents and governors to two-year miniterms,” and “require candidates for federal office, governor and mayor to take part in at least three debates no matter the strength of the opponent,” suggested Kansas City Star columnist Steve Kraske. In his more perfect political world, presidential caucuses and primaries wouldn’t begin until April or May, independent commissions of retired judges would redraw districts, and donors to independent campaign ads would have to reveal themselves. And that three-debate mandate? “The rule would apply to primaries, too,” Kraske wrote. “Voters deserve it, and that would avoid the silly dance that Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts is now performing as he seeks to skip a showdown with Milton Wolf.”