Category Archives: Kansas delegation

Rumored Sebelius challenge of Roberts is far-fetched

sebeliushandsupThere was a time when Kathleen Sebelius might have successfully challenged Kansas Republicans’ ownership of both U.S. Senate seats, which dates from 1939. That was early in her second term as governor in 2007-08, when her approval ratings averaged 66 percent (compared with the average 52 percent during the same period of Sen. Pat Roberts and 48 percent of then-Sen. Sam Brownback). But the new talk of a run by Sebelius against Roberts is far-fetched. “One person who spoke directly to Ms. Sebelius said that she was thinking about it, but added that it was too soon to say how seriously she was taking the idea,” the New York Times reported. Now, thanks to her just-ended service in President Obama’s Cabinet and responsibility for the Affordable Care Act as secretary of health and human services, Sebelius is as unpopular in Kansas as in the rest of the nation. A Public Policy Polling survey of Kansans in February found that Roberts would beat Sebelius 52 to 38 percent. It even found that Sebelius would lose by 7 percentage points to Roberts’ tea party challenger, Milton Wolf. To get into the race, she also would have to elbow aside Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, the declared Democrat.

So they said

huelskamp“What difference does it make?” – U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (in photo), R-Fowler, calling the House-passed budget blueprint crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., a “ceremonial bill” (though Huelskamp voted for it)

“Brownback, see me after class!” – among the messages on signs carried by schoolteachers at the Capitol last weekend

“They took out a dozen of us. It was very personal and extremely dishonest. That’s the kind of thing that went on, and now it’s coming back to roost.” – former state Sen. Dick Kelsey, in a Politico Pro story about the 2012 purge of centrist GOP senators

“Yeah, it happens all the time.” – Secretary of State Kris Kobach, to a Florida radio host’s suggestion that “widows are voting for their dead husbands”

Pompeo convinced that GM foods are safe, needed

food“The science is clear” that genetically modified foods are safe, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, told The Eagle editorial board. Pompeo introduced a bill this week that would require that new GM foods be reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; currently, such review isn’t mandated. The bill also would give the FDA sole authority on whether to label GM foods – barring states from imposing their own regulations. Supporters of labeling argue that it informs consumers, but Pompeo contends that a patchwork of unscientific state regulations creates burdens and barriers for Kansas farmers. “It’s a big deal to our growers,” Pompeo said.

Kansas delegation stands out for youth

CapitolBuildingThe Washington Post’s Wonkblog found that “Congress is actually getting younger,” and that Kansas’ delegation is the youngest of them all – an average 45.8. That is thanks in large part to 38-year-old Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, are both 50. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, is 45. (Wonkblog excluded states with House delegations of one.) “We normally associate youthful dynamism with coastal metropolitan areas, but as far as the House is concerned that energy seems to be coming from the heartland,” the blog noted. The age of Kansas’ two senators averages out to 68.

Moran read Koch’s commentary into congressional record

morannew“The fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation’s own government. That’s why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles,” wrote Koch Industries chairman Charles Koch in a Wall Street Journal commentary last week. His explanation of his free-market beliefs and political involvement was read into the congressional record by Sen. Jerry Moran (in photo), R-Kan. “In Kansas, there’s a company called Koch Industries that is a component of our state, its economy, and many, several thousand, Kansans work there. And unfortunately in the political discourse of our country, Koch Industries, its owners, are often subject to attack,” Moran said. According to the Washington Post, the political network backed by the Koch brothers raised at least $407 million for the 2012 elections, and their ongoing spending has inspired criticism by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on the Senate floor, including his contention that Republicans are “addicted to Koch.”

So they said

“Representative, this isn’t on the topic of the bill.” – House Speaker Ray Merrickmerrick_ray (in photo), R-Stilwell, interrupting as Rep. Randy Garber, R-Sabetha, brought abortion into the debate on a bill to bar another Sedgwick County gambling vote until 2032 (to which Garber said, “Pardon?”)

“Secretary Sebelius why is #unpopularity of ObamaScare so #shocking to you?” – Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, tweeting a link to an article saying HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was “speechless” when asked about the ACA’s poor polling

“@CongHuelskamp You do recognize you are a member of Congress? Might want to actually start acting like it. ‘ObamaScare’? What are you, 5?” – David Badash, editor of the online journal the New Civil Rights Movement, responding to Huelskamp on Twitter

“Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) hit the first three-pointer of the night.” – Washington Post article on a charity basketball game in which the Hill’s Angels (members of Congress and staffers) defeated the Hoya Lawyers (Georgetown Law School faculty) 46-40

Could Pompeo lead the House intel panel?

pompeo,mikeRoll Call and other Capitol-watching media have included Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, among the lawmakers interested in succeeding Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, along with Reps. Peter T. King of New York, Devin Nunes of California and Jeff Miller of Florida. “All those candidates would carry on Rogers’ hawkish stance as chairman of the committee, and all are fairly close to Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, relationships that could be a major determining factor if Boehner continues his reign into the 114th Congress, as he has said he will,” reported Roll Call. Pompeo spokesman J.P. Freire told Roll Call that “it’s far too early in the process to speculate on who might be the next chairman, especially given that this is a decision only the speaker can make.” Pompeo lacks seniority on the panel, but has been an unflinching public defender of the intelligence community amid the Edward Snowden revelations. Rogers’ decision to retire at the end of the year took some by surprise.

So they said

huelskamp“I also hope we can agree that after the multiple disappointments in St. Louis last weekend, we are both only too happy to move beyond this NCAA basketball season.” – Rep. Tim Huelskamp (photo), R-Fowler, after Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson closed his inquiry into the Huelskamp campaign’s NCAA ticket lottery

“Maybe it’s time for a national conversation about what a ‘deadline’ means. #ACA #Obamacare” – Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, on Twitter

“The Baghdad Bob of health insurance” – headline on a Politico magazine article by Rich Lowry concluding, “All we know for sure is that whatever Kathleen Sebelius says today may not be operative tomorrow.”

“Things don’t go better with Koch!” – Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, tweeting about a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study slamming Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts

‘The Doctors’ critical of Wolf’s X-ray posting, jokes

Wolf,MiltonWhen “The Doctors” TV talk show devoted a few minutes Monday to how Leawood radiologist and U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf (in photo) posted online and joked about gruesome X-ray images in the past, they didn’t cut their fellow medical professional any slack. Jennifer Ashton, an obstetrician and gynecologist, said: “I don’t think there’s anything educational or professional or moral or ethical about making jokes in any way, shape or form about anyone’s medical condition.” Family physician Rachael Ross said: “What I sense from these comments is that he’s a jerk.” Plastic surgeon Drew Ordon added: “He needs some help. He needs some counseling.” Travis Stork, who practices emergency medicine, concluded: “Being a doctor is a privilege, it’s not a right, and how we treat patients, you know, whether they’re still alive or they’ve passed – I think it’s essential to who we are as professionals.”

Did Roberts show GOP’s problem with Asian-Americans?

gopvoteAn article in Politico magazine headlined “Why Are Asian-Americans Democrats?” pointed to recent “clueless” remarks by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., during the confirmation hearing of U.S. surgeon general-nominee Vivek Murthy, a British-born Indian-American. Roberts’ small talk inviting Murthy to Dodge City to meet a “lovely doctor from India” and saying he would “be right at home” were of “the ‘I have plenty of friends who are Indian’ variety…. It likely reminded Murthy that he is different than the white ethnic majority – some other kind of American. However harmless it might seem, this is exactly the sort of exchange that makes Asian-Americans – the fastest growing ethnic group in the country – more likely to identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans, and by stunning margins,” wrote authors Alexander Kuo, Neil Malhotra and Cecilia Hyunjung Mo. Their conclusion: “As long as Republicans appear scornful of minorities, our findings suggest, they will not get Asian-Americans’ electoral support. This applies not only to rhetoric, but also to policy issues such as immigration reform.” Columnist David Harsanyi, while calling Roberts’ statement “clumsy,” responded that it could “be argued that the GOP is also a party that is far more likely to celebrate and foster the merit-based success on which the Asian community thrives.”

So they said

kobach“Beating the #Obama administration one lawsuit at a time.” – Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (in photo), tweeting about his win in federal court in Wichita defending the Kansas and Arizona proof-of-citizenship voter laws

“#ObamaScare is just like a screaming four-year-old no one wants to #play with.” – U.S. Rep Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, on Twitter

“If you don’t pay taxes, don’t expect stuff. And by the way, if you don’t pay taxes and don’t vote, don’t expect anybody to pay any attention to your complaining.” – Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, talking about the state’s coming budget problems at a Garden City legislative forum

“For those children that do slide by and do not get the benefit of financial literacy training, we set them up on a glide path straight to jail, prison and possibly worse.” – Rep. John Bradford, R-Lansing, before the House passed a bill encouraging such training

“I think I’ve just heard it all now: If you don’t have financial literacy, you’re going to jail.” – Rep. Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, in response

“If we’re going to make kids do something, let’s make kids do something that really is good.” – Rep. Ward Cassidy, R-St. Francis, on his amendment adding handshake training to the financial literacy bill

Lawmaker Huelskamp snarky about lawbreaking

huelskamp,timUPDATED: U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, shouldn’t have decided to raffle off NCAA tickets to campaign donors without understanding that state law, according to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson, considers that an illegal lottery. And Huelskamp should have done better than this snarky response to Branson’s rebuke: “As a lifelong Kansas State fan, I refuse to be intimidated by a Lawrence attorney likely still reeling from the 31-10 football blowout this fall and the 85-82 overtime victory by the Wildcats just last month.” Huelskamp, who dropped the donation requirement Tuesday, later accused Branson of “prosecutorial misconduct”; the campaign said Branson told the media of his investigation before telling the campaign.

Brownback defends Dole; what about moderates?

dolemugGood for Gov. Sam Brownback for saying he didn’t appreciate the recent suggestion by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that former GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole (in photo) didn’t stand for principle. “You can disagree with him on policy, but he’s the iconic figure of the World War II generation,” Brownback said on Fox News. “He’s a wonderful man.” Brownback also cited President Reagan’s rule against speaking poorly of fellow Republicans. “Reagan was always a very inclusive person and he had a lot of moderates in the party,” Brownback said. What would Reagan have thought of the Brownback-led campaign two years ago to purge GOP moderates from the Kansas Senate? The many mailers attacking former Sens. Dick Kelsey, Jean Schodorf and others certainly weren’t concerned about speaking ill – or speaking accurately.

So they said

bbackmug“I’m hoping the championship game is between two Kansas teams, and then I’m debating on what I’ll bet myself at that time.” – Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo), after explaining his WuShock pin to FoxNews.com

“They’re grinders. They’re hard workers. They’re scrappy and they’re fighters with big hearts. They reflect our town and the best of America and we love them. Godspeed to them. Go, Shox.” – Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, in a speech praising the WSU men’s basketball team on the House floor

“They’re American…. I wish Harry Reid would do his job of running the Senate.” – Brownback again, when asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s criticism of the Koch brothers as un-American

Moran has no doubt that Roberts will win primary

morannewSpeaking as both a fellow Kansas senator and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Jerry Moran (in photo) told the Washington Examiner this week that he has “no doubt Sen. (Pat) Roberts will be the Republican nominee come August” and suggested Roberts’ voting residency isn’t a significant issue in his race against tea party challenger Milton Wolf. “I don’t think there’s Kansans that have the sense that Sen. Roberts isn’t a Kansan or has lost touch with our state,” Moran said. In the GOP primary, Moran said, “It’s a matter of Pat being Pat – that he continues his efforts in visiting with Kansans, telling his story.”

Pompeo wanted Snowden uninvited from SXSW

snowden,sxswOver the strong objections of Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, offered a live video conference on Monday with National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Speaking from Moscow, Snowden expressed no regrets for having exposed U.S. intelligence gathering methods. “I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I saw that the Constitution was violated on a massive scale,” Snowden said. Pompeo had urged the festival to uninvite Snowden. “Rewarding Mr. Snowden’s behavior in this way encourages the very lawlessness he exhibited,” Pompeo wrote in a letter, saying Snowden “is no more a whistle-blower than were Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs or Benedict Arnold.”

Roberts doesn’t dispute accounting of time in Kansas

robertsleftAfter the New York Times reported that Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., was using the house of some Dodge City donors as his voting residency, Roberts’ staff declined to detail how much time he spends in Kansas, according to Washington Examiner columnist Byron York. But an unnamed source gave York information indicating that in 2012 Roberts was in Kansas for all or part of 65 days, York wrote, leaving “151 days in 2012 when the Senate was not meeting and Roberts was not in Kansas.” Roberts didn’t dispute the numbers, telling York: “I don’t measure my service in days. I try to measure it in results.” Meanwhile, campaign e-mails from Roberts’ tea party challenger in the GOP primary, Leawood radiologist Milton Wolf, now refer to “Pat Roberts (R-VA).” Wolf has his own problems, though, including the Public Policy Polling survey showing that only 29 percent of GOP primary voters are familiar with him.

Poll good for prospects of Moran-led GOP Senate takeover

gopvoteA recent Washington Post-ABC poll should make Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., feel good about how he’s doing as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “While the generic ballot (would you vote for a Republican or Democrat?) is very close nationally, the GOP holds a significant 50 percent to 42 percent margin in only the 34 states holding Senate contests in 2014,” noted the Post’s Fix blog. “That stat is certainly encouraging for the GOP’s hopes to win six seats and the Senate majority – a goal that appears increasingly achievable.” Though GOP prospects in the Senate look good, 68 percent of those surveyed think that Republicans are out of touch with the concerns of most people. The public also favors Democrats over Republicans on the key issues of helping the middle class, health care, immigration, energy and tax policies.

So they said

“I think what Gov. Brownback has done with the tax laws and forward-thinking for our state of Kansas and the growth of Kansas in jobs is becoming a model states are looking at throughout the nation. I think he has done it in a very nonpartisan manner.” – Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys, in a Daily Caller article headlined “The next tax reform model for the nation to come from Kansas?”

“My experience with Gov. Brownback after having served for seven other governors is that he is the most partisan governor Kansas has ever had.” – Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, in the same article

“You wouldn’t expect this from me. Cheer Liberal today.” – U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, tweeting on Shrove Tuesday, which was pancake race day in Liberal

Obama should fly his big plane to Wichita

obamaaf1During a recent White House event to announce advanced manufacturing hubs in Detroit and Chicago, President Obama punctuated a statement about his administration’s efforts to promote 3-D printing and other high-tech advances with this: “These are all ambitious goals, but this is America – that’s what we do, we’re ambitious. We don’t make small planes.” Really? That would be news to a general aviation hub such as Wichita. And it was an unfortunate choice of words for a president who recently signed the Small Airplane Revitalization Act sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita.

More evidence of Roberts’ hard-right turn

rightturnonlyWhen CQ Roll Call looked at Sen. Pat Roberts’ 2013 voting record, it found the Kansas Republican voted against President Obama’s wishes 66 percent of the time, a score 6 percentage points higher than the Senate GOP average, and voted the party line 99 percent of the times when most Republicans voted opposite of most Democrats. “After 16 years in the Senate (and as many years before that in the House) cementing a reputation as an establishment Republican, one driven much less by ideology than by a desire for accomplishment, Roberts tacked hard to the right last year,” wrote CQ Roll Call’s David Hawkings.

Rogen right to highlight apathy about Alzheimer’s

rogen,sethGood for actor Seth Rogen for not only going to Capitol Hill to help his chosen cause – more federal funding for research on Alzheimer’s disease – but also shaming senators for variously dozing through, skipping and leaving the hearing, with the notable exceptions of ranking Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas and subcommittee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. By the time Rogen spoke, Moran and Harkin were the only senators on the 18-member panel listening. “Very symbolic of how the government views Alzheimer’s. Seems to be a low priority,” Rogen later told his 1.84 million Twitter followers. Former six-term Kansas congressman Dennis Moore also testified about his own diagnosis in 2011. “Alzheimer’s is creating an enormous strain on the health care system, families and the federal budget,” Moore said. The disease cost Americans $203 billion in 2013, including $142 billion spent by Medicare and Medicaid.

So they said

huelskamp,tim“It’s high time we retire John Boehner.” – U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (in photo), R-Fowler, at Thursday’s fifth-anniversary party for the tea party (when the applause died down, Huelskamp completed his sentence, saying it is “high time to retire John Boehner’s biggest excuse that we only control one-third of the government”)

“I would like to commend the body on a good first half of the 2014 session.” – House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, after a marathon voting session Thursday

“No time for a debate on Medicaid expansion but 20 minutes for the state fossil.” – Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, tweeting as the House approved a bill honoring the tylosaurus and pteranodon

“I think we should retire that number and hang it on a banner from the ceiling, showing how wrong that number can go.” – Rep. Steve Becker, R-Buhler, about the refusal-of-service bill, HB 2453, which he voted against

“If elected I will do my best to keep Kansas off Comedy Central.” – Larry Meeker, Johnson County Democrat running for the Kansas House, on Twitter

Moran, Roberts should support treaty on disabilities

disabled3Any suspicion that the political right, after suffering a defeat on the debt ceiling and facing threats from business donors, is losing its clout can be dismissed by the fight over the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities,” wrote columnist Albert Hunt. One of the biggest champions of the treaty is Bob Dole, who said that it “would have passed by voice vote” if it had come up while he was still in the Senate. But now Dole is having trouble even convincing Kansas Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts to support it.

Pompeo defends Koch brothers, criticizes Reid

reidharryRep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, defended Charles and David Koch after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (in photo), D-Nev., blasted the brothers for helping finance attack ads against Democrats that Reid said were misleading and dishonest. “It’s too bad that they’re trying to buy America, and it’s time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty of these two brothers who are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine,” Reid said on the Senate floor Wednesday. Pompeo called Reid’s comments reprehensible. “This cannot be tolerated – not for these two great men or for any individual who disagrees with those in power,” Pompeo said in a statement.