Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

In Which Gidget Plays Fun Killer

Lawmakers are invited to Skinny's tonight for an annual drunken karaoke event. 

Yes, it's the middle of the session. Yes, half of them have families at home who they've barely seen, and no, they still haven't decided what they'll do about school finance.

But they're headed to Skinny's in Topeka tonight to drink and make merry with lobbyists who organize the debauchery. The event begins at 9 p.m., but the real fun starts much later when liquid courage draws them to the microphone.

It sounds fun, but the optics are awful.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Swamp Meddling in KS with a Side of 2nd District Polling

The swamp is stepping into the Kansas Democratic race for Governor. Normally, I oppose Washington, D.C. jumping into the Sunflower State and pretending to understand anything about our Home on the Range. But if the swamp people want to mess up the Democratic primary, my feelings won't be hurt at all. 

The former western regional candidate services director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Jordy Ziegler, just announced she'll join Sen. Laura Kelly's campaign as campaign manager.

It sure looks like the Swamp is choosing the Kansas Democratic nominee before Democratic voters have a chance to cast a ballot. That should make other Democratic candidates fiery mad. The only one who seems to be firing back so far is Rep. Jim Ward. He's launched an all out assault on Kelly's voting record on gun control.  

Dems probably shouldn't be all that surprised by the national party's actions. See Chad Taylor and how the Dems disenfranchised all of their own voters in favor of an "independent" candidate in the race against Sen. Pat Roberts circa 2014. 

Swamp Dems should be careful. Their more recent efforts at selecting a party nominee over the objections of the actual voters yielded the Hillary campaign, and we all know how that ended: With liberals in genital hats crying and screaming at the sky. Great for comedic relief, not so great if winning is the goal.

Speaking of swamp meddling, one Republican candidate for Kansas 2nd Congressional seat visited Washington, D.C. last week. I don't have any insider information on why that might be, but if I had to guess, I'd say the Swamp is likely very interested in the Kansas Republican primary in the second district. 

Washington pundits are calling the race to replace Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins one to watch, and the Democrats have a strong-ish candidate amassing a war chest. That would be failed gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis. He lost to now-Ambassador Sam Brownback, but he managed a moral victory, narrowly winning the second. At last report, he'd raised $700,000 compared to a bevy or Republicans who collectively earned less. And that's money those candidates will need to fend off one another long before the general election. It's a problem.

So... perhaps the NRCC is auditioning candidates, hoping to back a horse in that race. For what it's worth, the NRCC is gross. They should stick to backing incumbents and let Kansans choose its own Republican horse. I think that's generally their task, but Democrats need to pick up a mere 24 seats to turn over control of the House to Nancy Pelosi, and with so many House Republicans choosing not to seek re-election, the GOP will be playing a lot of defense in 2018. (Also, every once in awhile, the general electorate really mucks things up. See the Roy Moore campaign. I don't know how regular voters goofed so epically on that one, but they boffed it badly, and now there's a Democrat representing ALABAMA in the U.S. Senate. Alabama!!!)

So... one Republican candidate was in D.C. last week.  Make of that what you will. For all I know, the candidate was visiting an old friend or polishing shoes at Metro Station to raise campaign bucks. That may be more lucrative than fundraising in Kansas right now since the gubernatorial race seems to be sucking up all the oxygen right now.

But while we're on the topic, I should mention that I've heard rumor of poll results in the 2nd. According to my super insider-y and somewhat gossip-y sources, a poll of 529 registered Republicans in the district gives a lead to Tyler Tannahill.

Tannahill is a political newcomer, which in all honestly, makes me incredibly nervous. (See Donald Trump's ridiculous comments on gun control. People who've spent time in the political trenches don't say stupid stuff like, "take the guns first and worry about due process later." They don't say those things, because they've carefully considered the issues and policies. Trump uses instinct, which might work great in the animal kingdom, but here in the human arena, we've been gifted with the ability to use logic and reason coupled with careful thought and study.)

Despite being a newcomer, Tannahill made a splash early by holding a campaign raffle for an AR-15. He launched the raffle a day before the shooting at a Florida school, and when the liberals discovered the raffle for an "assault" rifle, they went remarkably rabid, upping Tannahill's name recognition in an instant. Impressively, he didn't back down. So that's good. Perhaps he relies on reason and careful thought rather than "instinct."

The national media attention may be responsible for the mid-February poll indicating Tannahill would receive 14 percent of the vote in a primary election were it held that day.

State Sen. Caryn Tyson garnered 7.8 percent, followed by Sen. Steve Fitzgerald at 6.2 percent, and Rep. Kevin Jones at 3.2 percent. The remaining candidates didn't break 1 percent. 

The real takeaway from the poll is that 67 percent of voters in the 2nd remain undecided. Something needs to happen there to narrow the field, but so far, I don't see much reason for anyone to budge. No one has raised obscene amounts of money, and the polls aren't showing a big enough spread to encourage anyone to bow out. The very good news is voters in the 2nd have a lot of really good choices. Hopefully, they'll choose wisely.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Pair of Brewing Bromances in Kansas Governor's Race?

Heading into the Kansas Republican gubernatorial debate, I was worried the candidates were going to take off the gloves and start slapping one another in the face. Instead, the audience was treated to a pair of brewing bromances.

Word on the street is a few of these candidates might be swiping right and creating teams.

Here's what I've heard: Wink Hartman is set to suspend his campaign, maybe as early as this week, but he may not be out of politics all together once he does.

Meanwhile, Kobach is going to be looking for a number two to share his ticket. The unicorn, Republican lieutenant governor partner is a woman from the Big First Congressional District with elected experience, ag street cred, and a (conservative) voting record. That person is a myth, so Governor candidates will have to settle for someone who ticks only a few of those boxes (or at least someone who can fake it in cowboy boots and a snazzy belt buckle.)

Hartman doesn't have many of the unicorn requirements, but he has the one characteristic key to Kobach's heart: Hartman shares Kobach's values, judging from the Saturday's debate.

As an added benefit to such a ticket, Hartman solves concerns some voters might have about Kobach. Several insiders worry that the Secretary of State is more of a legislator than an executive. Hartman has spent his life as an executive. Hartman's biggest challenge is that he doesn't have the ability to wow a room, a quality Kobach has in spades. Kobach doesn't seem to enjoy fundraising all that much, and Hartman has a giant wallet.

They complement one another well.

Perhaps most importantly, I suspect a lot of hard Kobach supporters would choose Hartman as their second choice, and a lot of Hartman supporters would say Kobach is their second choice. Few of the supporters of either campaign are likely to walk away if they join forces.

If the rumors are true, expect Kobach to make an LG announcement a few weeks from now. 

I'm also hearing rumors that Mark Hutton and Ken Selzer may be eyeing a partnership. I am not hearing as many specifics, so this one doesn't ring quite as true, BUT those two gave each other lots of positive nods during Saturday night's debate. 

If that duo decides to team up, Selzer belongs at the top of the ticket. He has executive experience, and a statewide victory in a crowded Republican primary.