Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe)

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Page 6 Version of Events and Unsolicited Advice

Last week, some high-ranking House officials and a Medicaid expansion lobbyist stopped for dinner and drinks at White Linen, a hipster restaurant where people with deep pockets and ambitions can snack on cheese and meat charcuterie for $22. The new restaurant probably should've posted a few rules about over-imbibing prior to allowing some of Kansas's high-ranking Republican House leaders in the door. And the elected officials (and lobbyist friend) should have behaved appropriately in public.

But they didn't.

Rest assured, the restaurant's oversight has now been corrected. And here's why:

These House members proceeded to drink way too much and act like fraternity members bellying up to a house party rather than respected government officials. The restaurant manager asked them to leave several times, until finally, a House committee chair (who for now, shall remain unnamed,) apologized and offered the entire restaurant an awkwardly worded a toast.

Fast forward to mere moments after their loud and embarrassing departure. The chefs and owners of the restaurant posted this on their Facebook page:

"Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that we need to be more explicit about our alcohol policies at The White Linen. We want to ensure our guests, who are on their best behaviors, that we will enforce Kansas alcohol laws that require us to refuse to overserve individuals who are visibly intoxicated/incapacitated, and therefore, may not be on their best behaviors. We work diligently to make sure we uphold Kansas laws and that our guests have a great experience in the meantime. We hope our past, current, and future customers can understand our intentions to keep the restaurant a safe and inviting environment and will dine with us with our policies in mind."

Slick burn. 

The people involved were long-serving and powerful state lawmakers. They put White Linen owners (and servers) in an incredibly awkward position, in which they were asked to break Kansas law on behalf of Kansas lawmakers. At worst, it reeks of subtle corruption. At best, it's unbecoming.

Here's my unsolicited advice: Stop treating the Legislature like a college party. When you gavel out for the night or the weekend, get in your car and go home, especially if you have a family and live less than an hour from the Capitol. To paraphrase the great Ted Mosby, nothing good happens after hours. The decisions you make after hours are the wrong ones.

I say this as someone who lives in fear of lawmakers getting conned into something stupid--like Medicaid expansion--because they didn't have the ability to behave themselves in the presence of an expansion lobbyist at The White Linen. Be better.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Third District Horse Race

I have so much information sitting like a vat of soup in my gut, and I want to regurgitate it to the pages of the internet with chunky abandon. Unfortunately, I can't divulge everything I know. (For first time listeners, here's a brief list of reasons why. 1. I worked for Kobach and am loyal to him. 2. I now work for the Sentinel, which means I have to write about a lot of these people, and I'd like people to return my phone calls. 3. I'm no longer anonymous. *Shakes fist at Dems who outed me*).

The good news is, I have a few nuggets I can puke up here. Let's talk Third District, shall we? 

Congresswoman Sharice Davids (stomach heaving) has all the looks of a one termer. Traditionally, Congress people are most likely to lose their first re-election. Things typically get easier after that. And she's a blank slate who really isn't very representative of the district. Lots of politicos (and newcomers) are giving this seat an eyeball, knowing a race against Davids will be challenging but not impossible. (I really, really miss Yoder, but he gone. He's ditched politics for the big bucks. He's a K Street consultant, which is polite-speak for D.C. lobbyist now. I'm glad he found a comfortable spot to land, but I sure wish he was still representing the Third District in Congress.) 

Anyone who listens to her talk for approximately 5 minutes recognizes she's a boat without an oar. She's traveling left, listening to Nancy Pelosi without any real positions. Check out her interview with KCPT's Mike Shanin below. She doesn't answer a single question.

Local politicos believe that it's going to take a set of ovaries to defeat Davids in 2020. Word on the street is that at least two are swinging hats towards the ring. Amanda Adkins is a former chair of the Kansas GOP. She's a VP (or something important) at Cerner. Prior to that gig, she was closely tied to former Gov. Sam Brownback, which might be the kiss of political death in Kansas. Cerner executives typically throw lots of cash at their favorite candidates, and as an Important Person there, the thought is that Adkins would be flush with dollars immediately. However, I'm told today that Cerner feels burned after the last election and won't be quite as generous to candidates this cycle. So, we'll see whether that theory holds.

Meanwhile, newcomer Sara Hart Weir is said to be mulling a run. She got a rock star introduction, speaking at the Kansans for Life Valentine's Day Dinner. She's from Olathe and the President and CEO of the National Down Syndrome Society and as such, I hear she knows all the movers & shakers in Washington. (So... the swamp creatures? Time will tell.)

I've also heard rumors of ovary-impaired folks eyeballing the Third District Congressional seat. Those names include Speaker of the Kansas House Ron Ryckman, former Gov. Jeff Colyer and former insurance commissioner Ken Selzer. Ryckman isn't exactly term limited, but there's a tradition that says his speakership turns into a pumpkin at the end of this term. He's likely looking for a nice landing spot in Kansas politics. I think Colyer's name is likely being tossed around because everyone thinks he's also looking for a landing spot. I don't know how serious those rumors are. I think the Selzer rumors are also just folks talking out of school.

Long term callers know I am reluctant to pick a horse this early in the race. That said, I'd hitch my wagon to any of those horses in the general without batting an eyelash.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Guy Who May Not Actually Know Any Republicans Attempts to Handicap GOP Race

Serious question: Have Steve Kraske or his affable side kick from Lawrence ever met an actual Republican voter?

My guess, based on a recent column, is no. I want to preface everything I'm about to say with this: Contrary to what you may have heard, I don't have a horse in the Kansas Governor's race. I really like the GOP candidates, and I have grave concerns about each of them. (And if you're all lucky, maybe I'll regale you with Deep Thoughts on the topic in the future.)

In the meantime, Kraske's most recent effort at handicapping the race is just laughable.  Kraske theorizes, accurately, that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was likely the man to beat in the GOP primary for Governor. 

"Suddenly, though, January morphed into March, and Kobach is looking nothing like King Kong," Kraske breathlessly tells readers.

Everyone with two functioning brain cells knew the race would tighten when Colyer became Governor, based on the advantages of incumbency. When some of the candidates dropped out of the crowded race, the field was bound to narrow further. That one is based on math.

Kraske quotes an old poll conducted on Feb. 13 and 14 that found Gov. Jeff Colyer with a lead within the margin of error of 23 percent to Kobach's 21 percent. The poll included other candidates like Wink Hartman and Mark Hutton who have dropped out. And it was taken at the height of positive coverage for Colyer. He had just taken the Governor's office less than two weeks earlier. Since then, Hartman, who polled at 5 percent, has become Kobach's running mate. Does Kobach pick up that 5 percent? It's tough to say, but my gut says probably. A more recent poll suggests that too. 

Kraske's other exhibits for his thesis is Kobach's last campaign finance report. Kobach was lighter on funds than other candidates. Here again, that's yesterday's news. Kobach just named one of the state's wealthiest people as his running mate. Hartman was willing to ply his own campaign with $1.6 million of his own money. Will he drop a cool million into a joint ticket? Who knows? It's a plot twist that shouldn't be overlooked by Kraske and his faithful professorial sidekick. The money game is different today than it was back in January.

Kraske's final point is that Kobach's recent trial versus the ACLU went poorly, and here is where it starts to become obvious that the columnist is just penciling a tome of wistful thinking: No one except a handful of journalists and the "resistance" paid any attention to that trial. (Full disclosure: One of the attorneys involved once represented me in a legal matter.) Most members of the "resistance" aren't voting in the Republican primary.

Republican voters weren't following along that trial trying to choose a gubernatorial horse in the race. Republican voters aren't breathlessly awaiting a verdict. They paid about as much attention to the media coverage of that trial as I pay to American Idol. (Is that show still even a thing?)

No matter how that particular event shakes out, it will be a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it save for Bryan Lowry. 

Why do I have this picture of a young Lowry? I don't know. Someone sent it to me a few years ago. 

The idea that a stampede of Republican voters is going to base their votes on it is ridiculous. It is, however, likely to be mentioned in every story about Kobach until the end of time. 

The Star columnist glosses over a recent poll, released by the Kobach campaign so grain of salt etc., that found 31 percent of likely voters choose Kobach to 18 percent for Colyer. Its margin of error is 4.4 percent. 

That poll was conducted between March 15 and 17. It's a lot fresher than the poll on which Kraske hangs his hat. It suggests that 36 percent of those polled are still undecided in the race. Those are the likely targets of Kraske's pitch, but most Republican voters--especially those who vote in midterm primary elections--don't pick up the Star all that often. 

Bottom line: It's a little early to make sweeping generalizations about the state of the GOP race, especially if you're someone who doesn't know any actual Republican voters.