Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): November 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Department of Labor Shuffling

There’s a hole at the top of the Kansas Department of Labor.

Back in September, Gov. Brownback sent former Sec. of Labor Karin Brownlee to the unemployment line.  Deputy Secretary of Labor Lana Gordon was given the nod, but only in the interim.

Still no word – not even a whisper as to why Brownlee was canned. I’ve got my own theories – specifically, when you board the Brownback train, you sit in your seat and keep your mouth shut. You so not attempt to help read the map or offer suggestions for scenic routes.

This is perhaps a character flaw in our ambitious Governor.  I suspect he likes to be surrounded by ‘yes’ men and women rather than trusting the judgment of those around him.

Anyway, rumor has it that despite their differences, Brownback offered Brownlee an olive branch in the form of an appointment to a well-compensated board. I think she said no, but this is third hand rumor,
so do with this information what you will.

And as for that hole at the top of the labor department? Brownback is said to be considering a soon-to-be former legislator who lost his election, largely as a result of redistricting snafus.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mods get knocked down, but they get up again

Republicans are setting up the firing range. Our targets – one another.

At least, that’s what I believe is probably the case with a new group calling itself “Moderate Kansas.”

The group has created a very vague website and is happily tweeting (@ModerateKS) itself into the state’s lexicon.

The website,  www.moderatekansas.com, is red. That’s about all there is to see. There’s a motto: A Rational Voice for the Majority of Kansas. But I don’t know what that means. It’s awfully hope-y change-y to me. You can ascribe whatever values suit your purpose to it.

According to their Twitter account, they are planning an organizational meeting to write a platform in January.

If I had to guess, this is the reincarnation of the so-called moderate Republicans. I just think we’ve heard this song before. The tune was catchy for awhile and then wore thin, kind of like “Tub Thumping,” by Chumbawamba. (They were one-hit wonders for a reason.)

I guess the mods are hoping they’ll get back up again after getting knocked down in the primary election last August. This time, however, it appears they hope to start a third party.

Look, I get it.

I am far more Libertarian than what currently passes for a Republican these days. We’ve got Gov. Sam Brownback pimping for wind credits. You’ll never find a Kansas Republican that doesn’t think farm subsidies are a brilliant piece straight from central planning.

There are days, many of them, when I seriously consider trying to build the Libertarian Party. I guess if this group of Moderate Kansas really gets going, there might be chance to splinter even further.

If nothing else, it will be interesting to watch.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Outliers reorganize

While we're on the topic of reorganization, Wyandotte County and Sedgwick County recently selected their leadership teams.

This feisty group is the new leadership of the Wyandotte County Republican Party. According to the grapevine, the county's reorganization meeting was the biggest collection of Republicans to ever assemble in one place in Wyandotte County. Pictured here are Debi Carr Ward, secretary of the WyCo GOP; Becky Zirkle, secretary; Patricia Stoneking,vice chair; and Mark Gilstrap, county chair.

Meanwhile, the 100-pound GOP elephant, Sedgwick County -- second only to Johnson County's 200-pound elephant in the state GOP -- also reorganized recently. The chairmanship remains stable in the hands of Bob Dool. Sue Colaluca replaces Julie Sipe as vice chair, and Todd Johnson replaces Lisa Ritchie as treasurer. Benjamin Sauceda will continue on as the secretary.

What does all of this re-organization mean for the Kansas Republican Party? Probably not much. But stay tuned. You never know.

Annnd the race for KS GOP Chair is on

I was wondering whether Amanda Adkins, current Kansas GOP Chair, would
continue her rein as Queen of the Kansas GOP, but it appears she's turning
in her crown.

Kelly Arnold, a guy who has really adorable curly hair, has announced
his intent to run for Chair of the Kansas Republican Party. He currently serves as
Vice Chair. And really, the only thing I know about him is that thing about
his hair. Oh, and he's originally from McPherson and now lives in Wichita.
(I think.) According to what I just Googled, he also serves as the County
Clerk of Sedgwick County.

Anyway, Arnold is running to replace Adkins as Chair of the state GOP. And as is
the (strange) tradition in Republican circles, he's also announced a slate of
candidates to fill leadership positions.

His slate includes elevating Michelle Martin, a Salina attorney, from
secretary to vice chair of the state party. For secretary, Arnold's slate
lists Derek Kreifels, the current assistant treasurer of Kansas. Arnold's
slate would see TC Anderson remain in his current role as treasurer of the
state party.

I know this is rare, but I have few opinions on this topic. Adkins and Co.
did a fine job.Although with the exception of Adkins I couldn't pick the
leadership out of a line-up. I know of no scandals that occurred during the
Adkins rein, and the same can't be said of her predecessor Kris Kobach.

I guess if I had one, teeny, tiny complaint, it would be that I think the
group is hand-selected by the Governor. In my mind, that's backwards. It
should be a bottom-up process in which grassroots people elevate the
leaders among them rather than this kind of top-down leadership that I
believe is the norm in today's Kansas GOP. (And maybe always has been. As
I've said before, I'm relatively new to the whole scene.)

I also think I've said this before, but I'd like to see another slate --
not because I don't like the current leadership. Just, a little competition
never hurt anyone. In fact, I'd argue it makes us stronger.

Anyway, Arnold recently sent a letter to grassroots folks seeking their
support. Here's what he had to say:

I am running for Chair of the Republican Party because I believe in Kansas
and I believe that conservative principles will lead our state and our
country on a path to prosperity.  We must continue to fight back against
Democrats who want to make government bigger and more involved in Kansans’

I have been intimately involved in our grassroots Republican Party for
over a decade, not only serving in numerous leadership roles, but more
importantly volunteering for hundreds of campaigns to get conservatives
elected. Additionally, I was reelected this year as Sedgwick County Clerk.
 I look forward to working with you over the next few weeks as we refine
our message and work to make sure our conservative principles become a
reality by winning important elections for years to come.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Third District Delegates Announced

Here's the list. It will be interesting to see how many of these delegates show up to the Third District Reorganization coming soon.

65 Women Delegates (alpha order)
Baldwin, Peyton
Beverage, Nancy
Bishop, Tone
Blair, Christina
Bone, Shenon
Bourdess, Joy
Bredmeier, Char
Brems, Marla
Capron, Karin
Churchman, Kim
Clark, April
Culp, Mary Kay
Daugherty, Cynthia
Dengel, Carol
Denning, Marearl
Dickey, Emily
English, Alba
Essex, Robyn
Evans, Lindsey
Foushee, Frances
Gilmore, Julie
Gossage, Beverly
Grosserode, Amanda
Hanahan, Nancy
Hansen, Alice
Herron, M. Leah
Hodgdon, Anne
Holloway, Linda
Krieg, Carrie
Kriegshauser, Barbara
Krings, Arlene
Lathrum, Jennifer
Lightner, Patricia
Lightner, Lindsey
Lockwood, Michele R.
Lynn, Julia
McDonnell, Cathy
McMullen, Janet
Meigs, Kelly
Metsker, Susan
Morrison, Judy
Myers, Bernadette
Oakes, Barbara
O'Connor, Kay
O'Hara, Charlotte
Olson, Rachel
Person, Carri
Pilcher Cook, Mary
Quade, Kim
Riley, Doris
Rink, Sherry
Rubin, Roberta
Schmidt, Leslie
Sciolaro, Lynsey
Sciolaro, Rachel
Sciolaro, Vicki
Segraves, Theresa
Sipp, Joy
Smith, Melissa
Speidel, Liberty
Starks, Yvonne
Straub, Susan
Toplikar, Dianne
Waldenmeyer, Mary Ann
Yoder, Brooke 

65 Men Delegates (alpha order)
Baldwin, Mark
Beaven, Matthew
Bettes, Chad
Boillot, Bill
Bourdess, Michael Brown, Mike
Chaffee, Dale
Chandler, Bradley
Churchman, Jim
Colyer, Jeff
Cromer, Greg A.
Darrow, Glenn
Denning, Jim
Donohoe, Owen
Eaves, Larry
Ellzey, Gavin L.
Gilmore, Kevin P.
Golba, Tim
Gossage, Robert
Hanahan, Lloyd
Hansen, Karl
Hayden, Calvin
Hildabrand, Brett
Hodgdon, Robert
Holloway, Jerry Kinzer, Lance
Kleeb, Marvin
Krieg, Mike
Kriegshauser, John Dennis
Krings, Gary B.
Leary, Joe
Lightner, David L.
Long, Earl
Macheers, Charles
McGovern, Michael A.
McMullen, Mike
McPherson, Craig
Merrick, Ray
Metsker, Ronnie
Moore, Michael
Morrison, Ken
Myers, Currie
Olson, Rob
Osterhaus, Jason
Pirner, Mike
Poulter, Alex
Rink, Larry
Roberts, Steve E.
Rubin, John
Ryckman, Ron
Schwab, Scott
Schwendemann, Kenneth
Sciolaro, Charles
Sciolaro, Jonathan
Sciolaro, Ryan
Shute, Stephen
Siegfried, Arlen
Smith, Greg
Smith, Ken
Straub, Ernie
Toplikar, John
Treacy, Tom
Welton, Michael
Wolf, Larry
Yoder, Kevin
 66 Women Alternate Delegates (alpha order)
Abraham, Katrina
Allenbrand, Ramona
Apple, Allison
Barackman, Judy
Beauchaine, Susan
Berry, Pam
Brown, Kimberly
Bukaty, Maureen
Burditt, Pam
Campbell, Lisa
Cole, Candise
Collins, Shetta
Davis, Erin
Delaney, Kathryn
DeVera, Sue
Dunn, Peggy
Eaves, Colleen
Felter, LeEtta
Finn, Jill
Gfoeller, Monica
Gowans, Betty
Guthrie, Brenda
Hayden, Kelly
Hernandez, Jacqueline
Hochscheid, Liz
Hollister, AliceLee
Hulme, Lisa
Jadlow, Blanca
Keaton, Patty
Kissell, Maryteresa
Koranda, Diane
Korphage, Rebecca
Kreifels, Melanie
Krull, Gretchen
Kuckelman, Jo
LaMar, Brenda
Leary, Katherine
Lynn, Megan
Mollohan, Debra
Monica, Marsha
Moore, Maryann
Newton, Mary
Ney, Jill
Pilcher Cook, Mary
Powers, Eleanor J.
Purkey, Lisa
Riedel, Jan
Rinke, Rebecca
Robinow, Margie
Roethle, Alana
Rutherford, Kay
Rush, JoAnna
Russell, Hannah
Sande, Jenny
Schnegelberger, Nancy
Schwendemann, Jeanette
Slaven, Denise
Snyder, Audrey
Stewart, Linda Lee
Sutton, Lana
Swanson, Mieke
Townley, Suzanne
Walston, Marisel
Webb, Wendi
Whitney, Cindy
Wymer, Kelly
66 Men Alternate Delegates
Allen, Jr., Marvin
Bare, III., Charles
Beauchaine, Josh
Beauchamp, Mark
Beveridge, Joe
Bruce, Bob
Bruchman, Rob
Bukaty, Mike
Burditt, Jim
Campbell, Craig
Carroll, Chris
Conaghan, John
Copeland, Michael
Cowing, Shawn
Delaney, Richard M.
Denning, Frank
Doane, John
Espinoza, Oscar
Essex, Steve
Felter, David J.
Felter, John
Fry, Larry
Fucik, Patrick
Godfrey, Darrell
Guthrie, Dallas
Hermes, Dalton
Hermreck, Brandon F.
Hermreck, Walter
Hodge, Benjamin
Hughes, Bruce
Hulme, Steve
Jadlow, Trey
Jenkins, Eric
Johnson, Jerred
Jordan, Nick
Keltner, Jr., Kenneth
Kenig, Brandon
Kimmell, M.D., Richard
Koranda, Frank
Kreifels, Derek
Kuckelman, Mike
Lawrence, Nate
Lynn, Jeffrey
McConwell, Ed
McDonnell George
Melookaran, Joseph
Miller, Hogan
Nelson, James
Nelson, John
Purtell, Duane
Rinke, Mark
Robinow, Jay
Seldner, David
Steuve, Kevin
Sutton, Bill
Tenpenny, Chad
Thomas, Michael
Toburen, Andy
Waldschmidt, Chris
Walston, Carl
Webb, Dave
Wheeler, David
Whitney, Don
Whitney, Trevor
Wilson, Don

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What next???

Now that the Johnson County Republican Party is "re-organized," the grassroots folks of the party will soon be asked to select new leadership for Kansas' Third District.

I've now been through a few rounds Third District Delegation meetings, and well, I have trouble figuring out what it is exactly the Third District Delegation does. But, like all organizations, I guess it's kind of what you make of it.

Currently, Keith Esau is the chair of the Third District. He will now serve in the Kansas House and by all accounts has no plans to run for chair again. From what I can tell, his job as Chair entailed selecting which of the delegate alternates would be seated at the state convention.

The vice chair of the Third District is Missey Smith, wife of Sen.-elect Greg Smith. Esau initially had a slate of candidates he brought forward for leadership. His choice vice was Christie Kriegshauser. Smith was part of a second slate, and was nominated for vice chair after losing the chairmanship. (I'm working from faded memory here, so someone feel free to correct me in the comments if need be.) Anyway, Christie withdrew her name from consideration saying Smith would make a fine vice chair.

Crisis, or fight, averted, and we all moved on down the road. I can't even remember who serves as treasurer. (I think it's someone from the 'dotte. And I feel bad that I can't remember which person from the 'dotte. I mean, there aren't that many Republicans in Wyandotte County, right? I should be able to remember one guy's name!)

The secretary, I believe, is Vicki Sciolaro.

So long story longer, the goal of the Third District meeting will be to select new leadership and to select delegates to the state party. They will in turn select new leaders at the state party level, and then we'll all hold hands and sing hymns for two years until we do it all over again in 2014.

No word on a meeting date yet, though Keith Esau said something about the event being held on the evening of Dec. 14. That's a Friday, very, very near Christmas, so tens of people will probably be there. I'll go, but I'll hate myself for being there. I'd much rather be somewhere warm and fun drinking egg nog and singing Christmas carols with friends and family, but principles.

One candidate has stepped forward to seek chairmanship of the Third District -- Vicki Sciolaro. I do not know her well, but she's uber-involved. And, she made the list of both slates for delegates to the Third District from Johnson County, which is to say, she's either well-liked OR people think she'll bend to their will.

I'm just thrilled to see a woman stepping forward for the top job. I think they serve with much more graciousness and principle than men in general. Sorry dudes. It's not your fault. I'm sure it has something to do with nature and testosterone.

As with county party leadership, the vice chair must be of the opposite sex, and Gavin Ellzey has stepped forward seeking that role. I read his posts on Twitter (@GavinGOP) and find him to be something of a fire brand, which I like. I've met him once or twice, but can't say I know him well.

Sciolaro and Ellzey passed out flyers at the JCRP re-organization meeting announcing their candidacy. "Revitalize the 3rd District" their flyer reads. The flyer says their vision is to create a "benchmark for congressional party organizations across the United States -- a dedicated, innovative team that will create new opportunities for everyone to get involved while working closely with existing Republican organizations."

Sounds good to me!

If you hear of anyone else that intends to throw their hat into the ring, I'd like to know about it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jenkins takes leadership role

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins was elected conference vice chair of House Republicans.

She'll serve with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who was elected Chair.

Jenkins beat out Martha Roby of Alabama for the post.

I think this makes Jenkins number 5 in terms of power in the U.S. House, but I'm not certain.

Typically I think having more Kansans in leadership positions is a good thing, and then I think, but Bob Dole. Either way, congrats to Congresswoman Jenkins on the new gig.

Officially, Jerry Moran

Update: I just received my first email from Moran asking for donations related to the NRSC cause-ish. So that took about six hours.

Jerry Moran is the new Chair of the NRSC.

Here's what Sen. Moran had to say about his new title:

“I would like to express gratitude to my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to serve as Chairman of the NRSC. The most important thing that determines the success of Republicans in 2014 is governing well today and representing the values and philosophies of our constituents. In this new role, I will work to recruit the most qualified and dynamic candidates and raise the resources necessary to make a difference in the next election.

“Before pursuing this position, I spoke with Senator Bob Dole about his time representing Kansas in the United States Senate. We discussed both the challenges and opportunities that accompanied his role in Senate leadership and how he used his leadership post to better represent Kansas. Though my new position will bring additional responsibility, I am deeply committed to fulfilling my duties as a senator to promote the interests and values of Kansas. I look forward to working with Leader McConnell and others within our Conference to make certain we make the right decisions for Kansans and all Americans.”

It's Metsker by acclamation

My anonymous source was correct -- Ken Smith did not vie for Johnson County Republican Party Chair and Ronnie Metsker was approved by acclamation. Also approved by acclamation were Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook as vice chair; Mike Kuckelman as treasurer; and Theresa Segraves as Secretary.

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. It's not that I dislike Metsker or that I like Smith. In all honesty, I barely know either of them. BUT I firmly believe and am committed to the idea that a little debate, or "family discussion" as Metsker calls it, is good for the party.

In lean years, when Republicans have uphill battles to get elected and when our ideals are in the dumpster (as they are nationally) there's a good case for a strong, united party. However, now, as the county party is strong, now is a good time to have some internal debates.

I'm not asking for screaming matches -- just a discussion about vision and the future. When there's no opposition, no one has to define their vision or ideals. We just all join hands and sing Kum By Ya and call it a day. I think we need a little bit of fire in our bellies.

There were two sets of slates offered for Third District delegates. One was endorsed by the Governor and the other was put forward by people calling themselves "Faith and Freedom" Slate.

These things are weird, weird, weird. First, often there is overlap between the lists. Such was the case last night. For example, Gavin Ellzey, Jason Osterhaus, Kim Churchman and Mary Kay Culp appeared on both slates.

Second, there's no mention of why these 130 delegates should be selected. It's just a list of names and in many cases, the people listed didn't even know they were nominated to be delegates, let alone endorsed by some group or person. Case in point: Mike and Donna Egan received the Governor's endorsement, but withdrew before the ballots were returned.

If I were making my own list, and two years from now I will -- watch this space for Gidget's List circa 2014 -- I would take care to endorse grass roots people over people who are already elected or are actively employed by a lobbying organization or PAC.

If we're truly to be a grassroots party, and I think we must, we should work hard to make sure the voices of those who don't hold power are heard and known. There are dozens of elected officials on the lists for both slates.

I'm pretty sure the "slates" are simply an effort by those who drafted the lists to grasp at power. It's disappointing that's where we're at. Unfortunately, the majority of the people actively involved in politics don't remain committed to principle for very long. Instead, they're interested in power and who they can control.

Why else announce a slate -- especially if in no way connected to principle?

I am especially discouraged by the Governor's endorsement slate. We should be striving to be a bottom-up party -- not a party in which the Governor dictates to everyone else. This is a basic conservative principle. There were more than 300 people vying for roles as delegates to the Third District. Of those, only 130 will get seats. And those 130 people will have limited authority or power to do much at all. So I do not understand why the Governor would discount 170 active Republicans to endorse 130 of them. I think it was a misstep, and I can't figure out the reason for it.

We won't know the results of the Third District delegate election for a few days.

Now a word about last night's meeting: It went on way, way too long. After about 2.5 hours, when Ronnie said, I just have a few more words, I almost wept. For many of us, our work days start long before the sun comes up. (Ahem. This person right here!) And by the time Metsker gave his acceptance speech, we had been in that auditorium for two hours. And it's not like we were seeing high-quality entertainment. (Pro tip: Toastmasters.) I'm insanely interested in all of this stuff and I was bored almost to the point of tears. I did not feel rallied. I did not feel jazzed. I felt like I was taking a sleeping pill in live form.

This was not a coronation. In my mind, this was supposed to basically be a business meeting with a brief bit of recognition to some stellar volunteers.

By the way, last night JCRP recognized Theresa Segraves for her volunteer efforts; Dennis and Barb Kriegshauser for their volunteer efforts; Marvin Kleeb for his fundraising efforts and Doris Riley and Marearl Denning for their work as JCRP leadership. If I would've had my way, we would've heard a few words from them rather than the never-ending speeches from Metsker.

It would also have been nice to see more of our newly-electeds make appearances. There were several electeds there, but none of the people making a run at statehouse leadership -- Rep. Arlen Siegfried, Rep. Ray Merrick, Rep. Lance Kinzer -- could be bothered to show.

Also, of interest, we learned that the party has $17,000 in hand, but almost $9,000 is spoken for. The lease on JCRP headquarters is up at the end of the year and the new leadership will determine whether to renew.

Moran moving to the Big Leagues???

We'll know today whether the junior Senator from Kansas, Jerry Moran, becomes the Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

I'm raising a glass to him now and hoping he beats Ohio's Rob Portman. We do things right here in Kansas, and I'd be happy to share Moran.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Congrats Bob Montgomery

Congratulations to Bob Montgomery who will be one of the shortest serving legislators in recent memory. The former Olathe City Council member was elected unopposed to the Kansas House on Nov. 6.

Rumor has it, he will be resigning shortly, and a handful of precinct committeemen and women will select his replacement.

There are two candidates wining and dining those folks hoping to get their votes.

Erin Davis, a non-traditional KU law student, and former Rep. Mike Kiegerl. Kiegerl would need to set up residency in the 15th District in order to legally hold the position.

Prior to the election, John Toplikar was also kicking around the idea of challenging for the seat. He, however, won his election to the board of county commissioners.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Racing for county party leadership

NOTE: According to an anonymous poster, Ken Smith has decided not to run for JCRP Chair. I guess we'll find out tonight.

It's official. Ronnie Metsker has announced a slate for Johnson County Republican Party leadership.
Several weeks ago, I reported that Ken Smith, a Mission police officer, announced his candidacy for Chair of the JCRP. Metsker is essentially the incumbent.

Someone was kind enough to slip me a letter that Metsker wrote to committee precinct men and women yesterday. In it, he asks for their votes and announces a slate of candidates for leadership roles.

They include:
Ronnie Metsker as Chair
Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook as Vice Chair
Theresa Segraves as Secretary
Mike Kukelman as Treasurer

I have never understood why these candidates are typically elected as part of a slate. If someone thinks they have the skills, ability and desire to lead the county party, I don't see why they have to find others to fill out a slate.

I really don't care to see elected officials serving as party leadership. I would rather a grassroots activist hold a role of vice chair, or any other role than Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook. Speaking of, Pilcher Cook strikes me as more conservative than Ronnie Metsker. So I am surprised that she'll be joining Metsker's slate.

And while we're on the topic of vice chair, I'm pretty certain that the chair and vice chair must be members of the opposite sex. This seems antiquated.

I haven't heard yet whether Ken Smith will be putting forward a slate. (My guess is yes, but I haven't heard a thing.)

The JCRP reorganization meeting starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at Shawnee Mission West High School. I imagine it will be a very brief meeting. (One year, it went well past midnight.) Precinct committeemen and women are expected to attend, but I'll be shocked if more than 10 percent show.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Moran wants NRSC leadership role

Sen. Jerry Moran has only been a member of the U.S. Senate for two years, but already he's seeking a leadership role of sorts.

The junior Senator from Kansas has announced his intent to vie for the role of National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman. According to members of his staff, he has the votes to get the job.

However, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio is said to be considering a challenge to Moran.

I don't know enough about the inner workings of the U.S. Senate to make a qualified call about which of the two men would best serve in the position.

The NRSC raises funds to assist in the election of Republican Senators. I *believe* they typically stay out of primaries and then drop tons of cash in critical races after the dust settles and one Republican is left standing.

According to Roll Call, a Washington-insider-y paper, Moran will consider whether the group should start jumping into primaries to select better candidates. (I'm guessing Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock losing seats Republicans were widely expected to win has something to do with the discussion.)

I personally am not a huge fan of Rob Portman. Yes, he did a bang up job preparing Gov. Romney for his first two debates. (The third, well...) But does that translate into chairing the NRSC? I don't know.

Portman is from a swing state with an iffy (and sometimes stupid) electorate. That could create special challenges for Portman as he tries to turn the U.S.S. Titanic, I mean Senate, around. Can he politically make some of the difficult decisions he may face as NRSC Chair? I don't have an answer, and honestly, I don't even know if it's a good question.

If it is a good question, I think we can safely assume that Jerry Moran at this point has a safe spot in the U.S. Senate for as long as he wants it. We kept Bob Dole there until his food had to be pre-chewed and it appears we're on track to let Sen. Pat Roberts stay just as long. If there are tough decisions to be made, Moran can make them without much backlash from Kansans. I believe that to be true.

Here's what I can say about Moran: There is still blood on the floor from his primary campaign against Todd Tiahrt. He can definitely raise money and make friends in Kansas. He's pretty personable and likeable, but can he raise funds on a grander scale? I have no idea.

The current NRSC Chair is Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. Make of that what you will. In his bio, he claims credit for 2010 gains in the Senate.

I have a very, very low opinion of the Republican members of the U.S. Senate, so I feel pretty confident that whatever decision they make, it will be the wrong one.

The vote is set for next Wednesday. Stay tuned.

More election night shocks

Amidst all the nationwide surprises, two quiet races in the county also were a slap in the face with a wet fish.

I write, of course, about the two races for county commission seats.

In the Third District, Steve Klika handily defeated Terry Presta by an 8,000 vote margin, or 15 points. Presta was the conservative in the race, endorsed by the predecessor in the seat, David Lindstrom.

Klika is what I would call an old school Dick-Bond-esque Republican. That essentially means he believes there are no problems a few taxpayer dollars placed in the hands of his friends can't solve. With Klika's election, we essentially have two Democrats on the Board of Commissioners. The other is Ed Peterson.

I fully expect Klika to immediately call for tax increases to fund schools, transportation and probably UN Agenda 21-type environmental standards. The good news is he's on a commission with several serious conservatives -- Michael Ashcraft, Jason Osterhaus and newly-elected John Toplikar.

Speaking of John Toplikar, I can't believe he won. I can't believe he defeated Calvin Hayden by 11,000 votes, or more than 30 points. Prior to this election, I would've put "well-liked" and "popular" in front of Hayden's name. But after that shellacking, I must re-evaluate. There's a chance I'm running in the wrong circles, because I thought everyone liked and admired Calvin Hayden. I suspected the Kansans for Life endorsement of Toplikar might hurt Hayden a little bit, but that blow out is not indicative of the power of KFL, which matters less in the general than in a primary. That was something else entirely.

Additionally, Hayden worked himself nearly to death during that election. I saw him absolutely everywhere -- at every party function and a number of fundraisers for other politicians. I think he walked door-to-door and his signs were everywhere. Toplikar's signs, on the other hand, were largely home made jobs that sprung up a few weeks before the election. Toplikar did attend the Olathe Republican Party picnic, but other than that, I never saw him.

No one in the Establishment or even the Tea Party activists seems to "like" Toplikar. He's stand-offish and quiet. (And then there was that whole sign stealing fiasco.)

But he's uber conservative to the point of not appointing people to the many jobs the BOCC is tasked with filling simply because he believes those appointed boards do nothing but spend more money. He's right, of course, but by not appointing a person to the board who would share his own values, he cedes some power to those who would tax us to death.

 The new county commissioners are from opposite ends of the political spectrum, and I think that speaks volumes about the difference between certain parts of the county.

I like to think I'm pretty good at sticking my finger in the air and determining which way the political winds are blowing. But both of these elections give me pause. 

Kansas gets its supermajority

Despite the horrible nationwide election results, Kansans upped the conservative ante on Nov. 7. Really, Kansas' results were the only bright spot on Tuesday night. Had Kansas' results mirrored the rest of the country, I'd probably be standing atop a high bridge trying to talk myself into jumping off. (I kid. I kid. But seriously, that was one depressing, depressing election night. Worse than 2008. At least that year, I saw it coming. I could prepare my fragile psyche.)

Back to the heartland, so the Republicans, and conservatives specifically will see a supermajority in the Statehouse when the 2013 legislative session kicks off. In the Senate, conservatives will hold 27 of 40 seats. In the House, we're rallying with 75 of 125 members. (Slightly short of the necessary two-thirds majority, but with a conservative Governor and Senate, we can concede those 9 seats.)

I was disappointed to see that Sen. Chris Steineger lost. It was an interesting experiment to see whether an 'R' could hold that district. Steineger was our best bet. I'd hoped he would get us in the door up in KCK. Alas, it wasn't to be. (Steineger would not have added to the Senate majority, really, because he was too moderate for my tastes, but it would've been a start.)

I also think Johnson County Republicans should be carefully examining our margins of victory. They were narrower than I expected, which means we must remain vigilant. We can't lay down and stop working for conservative ideals. Those margins were too close in an election that should've seen a conservative push from upticket.

An example: The Kelly Meigs vs. Dave Pack race. The provisional ballots have yet to be counted, and Meigs holds a slight lead of approximately 300 votes. There are still 200 provisional ballots on the table. Yes, she's the victor, but that's an awfully slim margin in a year in which I would expect nothing less than 52-48 percent wins at a minimum.

Also, in 2010, every Johnson County House seat belonged to a Republican. We gained seats due to redistricting, but we lost at least one. Democrat Nancy Lusk beat Republican Marla Brems in the 22nd District. The Dem won by an almost 20-point margin. Not cool. (I know so little about those candidates and that race, but still...) Additionally, in the 24th District, Democrat Emily Perry beat Republican Christopher Waldschmidt. (Again, I know little about the race or those candidates.)

The race between Republican Melissa Rooker and Megan England was also too close for comfort. Rooker won, but only by 200 votes. (Provisionals still need to be counted.)

All of this tells me that even in Kansas, we have work to do. We have neighbors -- in JOHNSON COUNTY where the taxpayers reside -- who think we should take money from those who work to provide things like cell phones for those who don't or work. It's called redistribution, and it should be rejected at every level.

So, a cautionary victory in Kansas, and now the real work begins. We have a sparkling opportunity to show the rest of the country what true freedom looks like. Because of the results nationwide, I personally believe Kansas elected officials need to hit the gas on conservative policies. I would love to see this conservative majority push immediately and decisively for things like school choice. (We've lost this country if we can't break the public schools' political indoctrination camps.) An example? In Kids Voting Kansas, a public school sponsored event that "teaches" children about the rights and responsibilities of voting, Kansas kids by a huge margin elected President Obama.

Let that sink in for a moment: Kansas school children overwhelmingly would've elected the President while their Kansas parents in the actual polls overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney. In the Kids Voting Kansas polls, 26,880 students selected Obama to 19,269 students supporting Mitt Romney. Romney won the state of Kansas by more almost 20 points.

In addition to breaking the public school monopoly, Kansas political leaders should also work to limit the reach of the government in the lives of everyday Kansans.

Officials are projecting a more than $300 million budget shortfall next year, and there will be tremendous pressure to increase taxes or continue a sales tax that is set to sunset in order to balance the budget. Those plans should be rejected. We need real, lasting cuts to the state budget.

Now that the election is over, the real work of conservative activists begins. We must hold our newly-elected leaders accountable to our ideals as we show the rest of the country what freedom and prosperity really looks like.

Our work isn't over. It's just begun.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


So tonight, there's going to be a Johnson County Republican Party Election Party. Almost all local Republican candidates will host their volunteers, campaign staff and party activists together in one location.

This doesn't happen everywhere. In other places, individual candidates host their own parties. The joint event is one of the best perks of the JCRP, and I think it helps create party unity. Everyone will be there -- at least one representative from the Governor's office, probably Lt. Gov. Colyer, Kevin Yoder, Johnson County's dozens of statehouse representative candidates and state Senate candidates.

It's a great place to see and be seen. And that's one of my least favorite things about the election night events. Hundreds of people will be there. At some points the DoubleTree ballroom will be so jam packed it will be impossible to get around. It will be incredibly loud. Typically, there are musical performances and political speakers as well as cocktails.

I love and dread this event. This campaign has been one of the longest in my recent memory. I walked precincts almost daily this summer sweating to death in the 100-degree heat. I've phone banked, lit dropped, parade marched, and now I'm tired. If I had my choice, the party would consist of pizza, close Republican friends, a few televisions turned to Fox News and CNN, a six pack and sweat pants.

That's not what's going to occur tonight. As I type -- and it's still three hours from poll-closing time and even longer until we have local results -- people are in the OP Doubletree ballroom setting up.

There will be cocktail dresses, neatly pressed suits, uncomfortable shoes, news cameras and awkward conversations. BUT everyone who attends will probably get to meet new people and hopefully the evening will end with some cheers as Romney walks away with the presidential election.

I'll be the one in the corner holding my shoes hoping to hear what the analysts are saying on television.

Side note: I hear there will also be a presentation to Ronnie Metsker, Marearl Denning, Doris Riley and Mike Kukelman. The foursome serves as leadership for the JCRP. At least two of them -- Denning and Riley -- have said they do not seek to hold their leadership roles next  year.

Second side note: The party starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Double Tree in Overland Park, 10100 College Blvd. The general public is invited. Cash bar.

Down low on the ballot

They're coming for your teeth. Or something.

Fair warning. I'm about to talk about something I know very little about, so bear with me.

In the Wichita area, voters will consider whether to increase the amount of fluoride in their water. This issue is completely beyond my comprehension.

Proponents and opponents of the move are arguing about the value of man-made versus natural chemicals. It's all very science-y and confusing. Here's a bit about it from the Wichita Eagle.

After reading several recent stories about the topic, I still have no idea exactly why or who is wanting to add more fluoride to the water. If I lived there, I'd vote against it.

All Kansans will also be asked to change the Kansas Constitution. The change would allow legislators instead of the Constitution itself to set the tax rates for registered boats in Kansas.

I voted to make the change, but I will be very surprised if it passes. I suspect most people heading into the polls won't even know about the amendment question until they are standing in the polling booth.

When that happens, I suspect most Kansans' default position will be 'no.' I know without understanding the question, I wouldn't be interested in changing the Constitution and a quick read of the question sounds as if the change is trying to institute additional taxes.

It isn't. Actually, the change will likely lead to lower personal property taxes on boats, but most voters aren't going to know that.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Guys, I am NERVOUS

I am so nervous I am having trouble finding words, so this blog will likely be a little quiet until Thursday or Friday.

I'm terrified that Gov. Romney might not win the election tomorrow. I'm going to do some phone banking today and tonight. And then, I wish I could find an all-day Tuesday prayer revival in which we prayed in mass -- together -- for our country.

Instead, the political activists will probably spend the day doing final calling and poll watching and spend the evening dressed in cocktail attire (or close to it) trying to see and be seen. I guess it's all part of the political game and serves as a way to thank volunteers. But I'd rather my thanks come in the form of politicians actually getting in office and vocally, vigilantly working for conservative values.

Unfortunately, I think most of them are simply angling to be re-elected. The election never really ends. It's just becomes pandering in the off years.

And now, I've depressed myself.

The country needs your prayers. Mitt Romney needs your votes. The real work of holding our conservative winners accountable begins on Nov. 7.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


It's the final push heading into the general election, and Johnson County Republicans are out campaigning.

They aren't, however, campaigning much in Johnson County.

A stop at the Yoder Victory Office or Johnson County Republican Party -- or whatever it's called -- volunteers are dialing voters in swing states trying to get the vote out for Romney.

Different groups have traveled to Iowa and Colorado to work on getting Romney votes, and even today -- three days before the election, the RNC is desperate for people to go to Iowa and knock on doors. Actually, the panicky emails from the national committee have me concerned about the presidential election.

All this is to say, it's been a little quiet here the last few days, because I've been out campaigning, which I find absolutely horrible, by the way. Neighborhoods full of split-level houses are crippling.

Since the advent of advanced, walk-in voting, I always wonder how fruitful the final few days of a big campaign are. I think I read somewhere that approximately 30 percent of the electorate will cast votes before Nov. 6.

I'm not sure the mad rush on the final weekend does all that much good, but I wouldn't want to test that theory by skipping it!