Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): November 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

I don't think so, Virgil

I'm sure Rep. Virgil Peck is a super nice guy. He probably leads his church youth organizations and organizes golf tournaments for orphans.

But he's said some monumentally stupid and embarrassing things in public. So naturally, he's thrown his name in to challenge Rep. Ray Merrick for Speaker of the Kansas House.

I don't have any insider-y knowledge about this race, but if the vote for Kansas Speaker isn't 97-1 in favor of Merrick, we've got problems.

Unfortunately, the votes for House leadership aren't public. So, say Peck somehow manages to win or even come close, we won't know how members of the Republican Caucus voted. 

That drives me bonkers. 

Leadership roles are critically important, and as a constituent, I'd like to know that my Representative uses that vote in an appropriate manner. With anonymous voting, I really can't say that. The secret ballot certainly allows politicians to promise favors in return for leadership votes with absolutely no transparency. Not cool.

Anyway, Rep. Peck is infamous for saying Kansas could solve its illegal immigration problem by shooting illegals from helicopters like feral pigs. A very low moment for conservatives. I know it was a joke, but it wasn't funny. He said it in public, and Peck will never again be mentioned in the news without the information about his notorious gaffe seeing print. 

Conservatives don't need to be painted with that brush every time the Kansas Legislature gets a mention in the Topeka Capitol Journal or the Kansas City Star.

It's damaging enough that people are calling Peck's decision to seek the job a "challenge from the right." Just stop, media. It's a challenge from a guy who dresses like a clown. As far as I know, no conservatives are rallying to Peck's side. (I sure hope they aren't anyway. Peck hails from way, way down south. I'm from way, way Johnson County, so I have no idea what happens out by the Oklahoma border.)

Anyway, others seeking leadership roles include Randy Garber, Kyle Hoffman and Mario Goico, who each hope to serve as Assistant Majority Leader. They're all old white guys -- not that there's anything wrong with that. Garber is from Sabetha. Hoffman is from Clearwater, and Goico is from Wichita.

Travis Couture-Lovelady, so far, is the only person seeking to be Caucus Leader. Ron Ryckman, Jr. is the only person, so far, running for Majority Whip. (For what it's worth, Travis is young. Ryckman, Jr. is young-ish.)

Rep. Peggy Mast, Emporia, faces a challenge from Rep. Don Schroeder, Hesston, for Pro Tem. 

GOP will select its legislative leaders on Dec. 1.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pat Roberts sees the light

Fresh off a tight election, Sen. Pat Roberts appears to have seen the decidedly conservative light.

I was alarmed on Nov. 6, when Roberts reportedly said he wanted to "fix" Obamacare and end gridlock in Washington.

That's not what he's saying today.

Yesterday, he penned an editorial to The Kansas City Star promising to:

• Repeal and replace Obamacare, "lifting the burden on our job creators and lowering costs for patients;

• Stand up to unconstitutional attempts to imposed undocumented immigrants by executive order; ("undocumented immigrants" -- Roberts' language, not mine. They're "illegals.")

• Open the Keystone Pipeline, "shed the yoke of the EPA and finally become energy independent."

Roberts told Breitbart that he supports a strategy that would cut off funding for President Obama's planned executive amnesty.

On Election night, Roberts promised to be bold and conservative. His words suggest that's true. Let's hope he follows through with actions.

Someone's already worried about 2016

And her name is Air Claire McCaskill, who owes her Senate seat to the breathtaking stupidity of Todd Akin.

Anyway, Claire told reporters today that she will not vote for Sen. Harry Reid for Senate Minority Leader. He hasn't done enough to reach out to Republicans.

Riiiiiight. It's because she wants to work with Republicans.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dem autopsy a cautionary tale for Republicans

This guy at the DailyKos is probably onto something.

I really hope the Kansas Democrats never put him in charge. Although on second thought, I think I have met this guy one time, and I'm not sure they want him in front of a television camera. Behind the scenes, he could be dangerous.

His autopsy of what he calls the "error brigade" rings true to me, anyway. 

He writes: "The pressure it seemed was on Democrats: Stick to our message and our message is... unfortunately in March of 2014, the message remained: 'Not Sam Brownback.' This message, 'Not Sam Brownback' resonated only as far as a race with Sam Brownback in it of course, but even in that race, Democrats knew that it needed something else."

Obviously, they needed to define Paul Davis. They never did. They also failed to capitalize on issues the writer says would have resonated with voters, choosing instead to focus only on education.  They relied on big data rather than actually talking to people.

"Kansas Democrats simply assumed that education was the top issue for voters," he writes. "It resonated with them."

It didn't, thankfully. (Of course, we know that some of Dems' complaints about education funding in Kansas were simply inaccurate. Being honest is generally helpful when you're trying to reach people on a personal level.)

The Dems needed an edge in Johnson County, but the author said the education issue was always going to be a hard sell in this end of the state.

"...the new plan in Johnson County -- a place that Democrats had to win -- to provide middle school students with free iPads and high school students with MacBooks would completely destroy an education argument. Parents simply wouldn't accept the idea that schools where (sic) if their kids were coming home with free technology no matter how rural schools suffered," he wrote.

But that, he said is the fault of Democrat schemers for using data rather than actually talking to people. 

He suggests that residents in the southwest Kansas, specifically Hispanics, had concerns about the minimum wage. In western Kansas voters wanted to talk about water conservation, ag policy and wages.

But, he notes, Democrats don't recognize these issues when they're running statewide campaigns from Topeka and Lawrence. (He also mentions the detrimental challenges of having a communications director who calls some parts of Kansas, "crapholes." D'oh!)

Republicans should learn from these conclusions:

1. An effective political party should be a bottom-up organization. 

"A state party is almost never built top down. A governor doesn't suddenly build up a party full of county commissioners and state house members. The reverse is almost always true."

Gov. Brownback started building the Kansas GOP machine long ago. Unfortunately, I believe once he reached the pinnacle, he quit listening to the grassroots. The Governor famously got involved in selecting delegates to the state party. The state party writes the platform and is typically includes precinct people and party volunteers. These are the people who do the entirely selfless work of campaigning. And for the Governor to deign to attempt to control who lands in those slots is just tacky and disgusting. This election was scarier than it should have been, and I suspect that is in part because Brownback appears to be somewhat of a narcissist, surrounded by yes people who will not allow a sliver of discord. It worked this time, because the electorate in Kansas is truly conservative, but I don't think that's a long-term plan for success.

2. A wise party encourages local candidates to run provides them active support, the DailyKos author writes.

The writer gives too much credit to the idea that Republicans are doing this in the way we should be. We aren't, but it's solid advice.

3. Talking to voters is far more effective than relying on polling.

The national GOP earned its comeuppance on this one in the 2012 election. The Dems, it seemed, had a magical turnout machine and the Republicans had one had technical problems on Election Day in 2012.

My fear is that we could go the way the Kansas Dems did this year in the future. Our tech and data did what it was supposed to do in 2014, but we cannot be complacent. They should never, ever replace actually talking to people one-on-one. 

4. Finally, the author makes a plea for Kansas Democrats to get out of their bubble in Topeka and Lawrence. 

"If the Kansas Democratic Party hopes to survive, it must fumigate it's (sic) office and realize it doesn't belong in Topeka. Or Lawrence. It must move to Salina. Tomorrow. Immediately."

The Kansas Republicans have done a fairly decent job of getting out of Topeka, but we aren't working hard enough on the ground in places like Wyandotte. And I am continually baffled at the echo chamber where most party faithful spend their time. Our echo chamber is great right now, but the demographics long term are not in our favor. We must do the work now of engaging minority voters, WHERE THEY ARE;  and of engaging single women voters -- fewer and fewer people are getting married these days.

We're going to need to peel off larger and larger of segments in those two populations if we hope to succeed 10 years from now, and possibly, if we hope to have continued success even in 2016. 

The voters in the graphic above, they'll be back in 2016. If we don't start educating them now, they'll be at the polls, woefully ignorant, and likely to vote with the Democrats.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Eating Crow

I was wrong, and like I expect my elected officials to do, I am taking responsibility.

I anticipated that Gov. Sam Brownback would lose. He pulled through, and I am grateful. It should be noted, he had far fewer votes than Sen. Pat Roberts and far less than Kris Kobach. I also expected that Brownback and Roberts may be a drag down ticket. They were not.

I had misconstrued concerns about Congressman Tim Huelskamp. He wrapped up the Big First handily.  I should know better than to believe the media narrative. 

I was so, so wrong about Johnson County, and I'm embarrassed. I live here and pride myself on being of the people. It's possible I'm not as down home as I think I am. I expected Laura McConwell would win a seat on the Board of Commissioners. Didn't happen. I also expected Rep. Paul Davis and candidate Greg Orman to do much better in Johnson County. They didn't even win the county. 

Johnson Countians deserve much more credit for their conservatism. We aren't a bastion of Democrat-lite anymore, and that makes me happy.

Roberts helps take the Senate: What it all means

So what does this election mean? What's the message?

The message was not that voters want the parties to work together to "get stuff done."

If the goal of the voters was to get Congress working, they would have sent as many Democrats as possible. Democrats NEVER have a problem working with one another, but they draw the line at working across the aisle. 

Anyone who reads the election tea leaves and believes the message is anything other than a complete and total repudiation of Obama and his policies should lay off the drugs.

Listening to pundits and politicos wax philosophical I am troubled that they are continually saying there will be no effort to overturn Obamacare. Twenty-five Senators who voted for Obamacare are vanquished from the national scene, and 100 percent of the newly-elected GOP Senators -- Sens.-elect Cory Gardner of Colorado, David Perdue of Georgia, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska -- campaigned on repealing Obamacare.

There may be a message there. So when I hear Mitch McConnell concede that repeal is impossible, I feel like slapping a kitten. Conceding defeat before mounting an effort is so, so stupid. (That's a message for real life, kids. Don't ever, ever concede defeat. Ever. Ever. When you stop trying to win, you lose -- unless you're a professional football team playing the Oakland Raiders.)

I am also concerned that Jerry Moran's group -- the National Republican Senate Committee, or whatever they're calling themselves now -- is parroting lines about "crushing the Tea Party" by finding electable candidates.

I do not know how you look at what appeared to be a terrifyingly close race in red Kansas and draw the conclusion that you found the most electable candidate and stamped out the Tea Party. Please, please make no mistake, newly-electeds, you are riding a red wave of victory today, because the Tea Party went to the polls this time.

But as a self-proclaimed Tea Partier, I will tell you right now, I am done being a battered wife. I did it this time to keep the marriage together until the kids are grown. But I am done. If you, newly-electeds, think you're going to go to Washington, reach across the aisle and give the Dems great, big bear hugs, I am finished voting for you. I don't know if that means third party or staying home, but I'm done getting punched by you all. Done.

Back in the old days, the Establishment at least did the Tea Party the favor of only hitting us where the bruises won't show, but now? McConnell, Cochran and others have NO compunction with punching us right in the eye.

I sincerely hope the old white guys who were gifted a return trip to Washington take a sliver of humility with them. To his credit, Roberts seemed to hear the message. He promised supporters last night that he would be bold and conservative.

However, he told the crowd he wasn't dragged by his feet to victory, he charged up the hill (or some such nonsense). And I would argue, no. That's not what went down. Tea Party conservatives did what needed to be done. And no matter who gets out front and attempts to take the credit for that win, that truth will remain. We went to the polls and did what needed to be done. 

For my part, I will be watching, and I will not go quietly into the night just because the election is over. I helped send Pat Roberts back to Washington, and I expect him to be a thorn in the President's side. Anything else is a punch in the face.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Wrap Up

There's a good chance we don't know who controls the Senate before bedtime tonight. If we're lucky, we'll know early, early tomorrow morning. Worse case scenario, we don't know until December or even January.

The DailyKOS has a handy map showing when polls close across the country. (Their times are listed in Eastern, so think one-hour earlier, Kansas friends.)

We need three of toss-ups, in addition to pick-ups in West Virginia, Montana and South Dakota -- currently held by Democrats, but likely to swing. That's assuming we're able to hold Kansas and Kentucky. If we lose those we need five toss-ups from Alaska, North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, Iowa, New Hampshire (!!), Georgia, and/or Louisiana. 

Things don't get all that interesting until 6:30 p.m. when North Carolina polls close. If Kay Hagan loses, I think the Senate is officially ours. The Real Clear Politics average gives Hagan the tiniest edge, a .7 advantage. 

Voters' part in the Sunflower State Showdown ends at 7 p.m. I told you my predictions yesterday, but I am re-thinking everything today. Several poll watchers, election workers and voters have called to tell me their polling stations were packed this morning. That's not unusual, but there's a polling place across the street from where I work, and into the afternoon, I am watching a continuous line. Most of the voters appear to be of the gray-haired variety. Make of that what you will. JoCo election commissioner Brian Newby told the Kansas City Star today that turnout looks high. I can't decide if that's good for our team or bad for our team. We should know some results within an hour of poll closing, but there is a western sliver of the state in which polls close at 8 p.m. 

At 8 p.m., Colorado polls close. The RCP average and the most recent polls appear to give Republican Dan Gardner the advantage. But it's Colorado. The people there are super, super weird, and half of them are probably high. 

Louisiana also closes at 8 p.m. All of the Important Pollsters and Pundits (IPPs) are calling the Pelican (Bayou??) State a toss-up. Doesn't matter. It is highly unlikely this race is decided tonight. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the runoff election will be Dec. 6. 

Another toss-up state, Georgia, is also likely to require a runoff election. The runoff isn't scheduled until January. JANUARY!! The good news is all of the smart people believe that we win it in a run-off election. The bad news is that everyone who lives in Georgia is going to wish for an electromagnetic pulse to knock out all communications between tomorrow and the Jan. 6 election. I can't imagine the prospect of having to listen to more campaign garbage for two more months. Sorry, Georgia. Really, really sorry.

At 9 p.m. Iowa polls close. The race there is about as much of a must-win for Republicans as I can remember. If things go badly in the evening -- say, heaven forbid, Kansas has been called for Orman (who VP Joe Biden has now outed as "with" the Dems. Huge shocker.) -- Iowa could look like a do-or-die.

And here's why political watchers aren't getting any sleep tonight: Alaska is a toss-up. In the worst case scenario for Republicans, the Senate is effectively tied with a supposed Independent from Kansas awarded a Senate seat, Louisiana and Georgia up in-the-air, Arkansas or Kentucky go wonky. Alaska polls close at midnight, waaaaaay past my bedtime. 

Long story short: I'm probably skipping the parties this year. (I don't really like them anyway -- too country club, too social climbing, etc.) I am going to try to peel myself away from the television and Twitter and spend some quality time with the people who matter to me.

I advise you to do the same. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gidget's predictions

I don't know how anyone in a position to be taken seriously makes political predictions. The polls are too close, the Democrats cheat too much, and far too many people who harp about the candidates won't even bother going to the polls.

All that said, I'm going to make a few predictions. They are based on nothing but my gut. However it all turns out, I am very anxious to have the discussions that MUST occur when this is all over.

U.S. Senate: I think Sen. Pat Roberts squeaks this one out. Do I think he deserves to? Probably not. What a disastrous, embarrassing showing from start to finish. 

When he wins, I hope he takes it with a large grain of humility. He won't win based on Kansans' love and support. If he manages to pull off this election, it will be because the voters had limited choices, the worst president in several generations -- perhaps ever -- and the fact that every politician this side of Canada rushed in to campaign for Roberts. Off the top of my head -- the women who had 19 kids and a reality show, Pat Boone, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bob Dole, Chris Christie, Mike Lee. Everyone I know is receiving between three and five calls per day in support of Roberts. 

Roberts will also owe part of the win to the fact that Kansans do not want a Democrat-controlled Senate. The immediate stakes are very high and very clear, even to low-information voters with I.Q.s just above vegetables.

It will be very, very close --  much closer than any race in red Kansas should be. 

Kansas Governor: This hurts to say, but I think Paul Davis wins this one. While I think the stakes are high in this race -- the national media will try to paint this as a loss due to Brownback's conservative fiscal policy -- but the stakes aren't obvious to the vast majority of voters.

It's ironic that the media will attempt to use the Brownback loss to push against fiscal conservatism since those of us on the ground in Kansas can attest that the loss is in large part due to the exact opposite. The base in Kansas is not fired up. AT ALL. There may be people just hopped up on the opportunity to go and vote for Sam and Pat, but I don't know any of them.

To a man, all of the conservative voters I know are very reluctantly going to fulfill their civic obligation, but they aren't out telling their friends how great Sam has been. If they're admitting at all that they are voting for him, they're telling their friends, well, he's better than the other guy.

Brownback is better than the other guy, but I don't see it happening for him. I think most voters recognize that if Brownback loses, a mostly-conservative Kansas Legislature will prevent the worst-case scenarios.

Davis may win by as much as four points. 

Secretary of State: Kris Kobach gets more votes than Brownback and Roberts. The most "controversial" candidate gets votes because he is a conservative, and he's unapologetic about it. That's not wishful thinking. It's reality. People respect Kobach's relentless pursuit of advancing his principles.

Derek Schmidt holds Attorney General. I don't even know who is running against him. Ken Selzer probably pulls it off in the insurance commissioners' race. This is, after all, Kansas, and no one has heard of the Anderson guy. I have heard a radio advertisement for Selzer and seen Selzer signs. I almost forgot to mention the Kansas Treasurer's race. Ron Estes wins.

Congressman Kevin Yoder is going to walk all over Kelly Kultala. I hope she didn't spend all that much money in the race. I did see a commercial alluding to Yoder's unfortunate skinny-dipping incident, so she spent some. That was money wasted.

I know there was some concern about Lynn Jenkins' race several weeks ago. Things look better for her now. (I really hate that commercial she's running about supporting women and being against rape or whatever. It's awful.) Jenkins will coast to a win.

I can't say how things are shaking out in other Congressional races. I'm mildly concerned about Congressman Tim Huelskamp. I have seen a few polls with favorable numbers for his opponent Jim Sherow. But we are talking about western Kansas, where Huelskamp's brand of conservatism is an easier sell than it would be around here.

The Kansas Legislature: Some of the people who should win, won't. And they can blame their losses, partially, on the incredible headwinds at the top of the ticket. 

I won't go down the list of every House race in Kansas, but I think some otherwise safe seats may be in for a rude awakening. Many conservatives will stay home, because they aren't happy about voting for Roberts and Brownback. This will cost some representatives down ticket. 

Johnson County Commission: I hate to say it, but I think Ed Eilert retains his chairmanship. This shouldn't happen, but it will. He's been a pretty feckless leader. But the moderates will continue to come out for Ed. He is a former Mayor of Overland Park, which gives him a name recognition advantage in the county's largest city. As much as I like Patricia Lightner and as hard as I have seen she and David Lightner working, I don't see her pulling it off. I hope I'm wrong. 

Laura McConwell wins in the first district. This race is a battle of two mayors -- McConwell is of Mission and Ron Shaffer of Prairie Village. Both are liberals. Prairie Village (pop. 22,000) has more than twice the population of Mission (9,500). But Mission is Mission. There doesn't appear to be that much difference between McConwell and Shaffer. McConwell is the more polished candidate. 

In the fourth district, Jason Osterhaus will retain his seat. He faces Curt Skoog. Skoog hasn't done much campaigning. Osterhaus hasn't been too terribly objectionable on the commission, and he's visited some doorsteps.

Regardless of how tomorrow's election shakes out, I sincerely hope there's a reckoning on the other side of Nov. 4. Republicans can't continue in our current fashion and hope to win the Presidency. 


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bill Snyder Political Wizard

This morning, I am laughing about this DailyKos piece suggesting that Kansas State University officials are in a rage about the football Coach Bill Snyder "endorsement."

Yesterday, the Pat Roberts' campaign unveiled an ad showing a not-all-that-ringing Snyder endorsement of Roberts. In the ad, someone off camera appears to ask who Snyder will vote for, and the coach responds that he's voting for Roberts, his friend, who Snyder says is the best we can do in Kansas. 

I actually laughed when I saw the ad, because it's so not a ringing endorsement. 

But anyone who honestly believes that Snyder was flabbergasted by the commercial, needs to check themselves. (For starters, you're taking as gospel things written in the DailyKos, but that's a story for another day.)

When the Snyder ad was first released, I was as surprised as anyone else that the famed football coach was taking such a stance. (And just for a moment, while we're on the topic, I think it's unbelievably unwise to make heroes of people for things like winning football games. ahem. Joe Paterno. I don't for a minute believe that Snyder is Joe Pa, but lionizing football coaches is just not smart.) Anyway, back to it -- I was surprised to see Snyder, who to my knowledge has never publicly endorsed anyone, essentially stumping for his friend, Pat Roberts.

But that advertisement was no accident. Anyone who watches ESPN's College GameDay can tell you that Snyder is probably the most difficult coach in all of college football to interview. He keeps his thoughts, his game plans, injuries, everything close to the vest. Snyder is famously cautious about which athletes he allows to talk to the media. If you're one of Snyder's players, you either learn to say what Snyder wants you to say in an interview, or you are never put in front of a camera. 

Bill Snyder is not some doddering old man caught unaware. He's savvy. When someone has a camera in his face asking for whom he'll vote, Snyder knows that information will get out. He knows it will land on YouTube.

You'll note, the DailyKos "article" said university officials requested that the ad be removed. Snyder didn't make the request, and he has been unavailable for comment. If Snyder wanted it gone, the ad would be gone.

For its part, the university sent a letter and Sue Peterson, KSU lobbyist, to request that the ad be withdrawn, and the university also issued a statement essentially reiterating Kansas Board of Regents policy which says, "Employees do not speak for the university when they endorse candidates. Employees should also avoid using their university affiliation in any endorsements or statements."

And while we're on the topic of the board of regents, there appears to be a (teeny, tiny) Twitter campaign to get Snyder fired. (Bwahahahhaha.) For what it's worth, the regent policy clearly says "individuals are free to express opinions speaking or writing as individuals in support of or in opposition...," blah, blah, blah.

The ad itself doesn't say Kansas State University. It simply calls him Coach Bill Snyder. The viewer has to try to guess just what it is Snyder coaches and where he does it. Snyder is wearing a suit -- not even a Wildcat lapel pin -- and there's one photo of Roberts and Snyder together, in which the Powercat on Roberts' jacket is blurred. Other than that, nary a stitch of purple.

A thinking person can and should assume that Snyder knew exactly what he was doing when he made that not-exactly-ringing endorsement. His carefully crafted, off-hand appearing statement, allowed the university and Snyder to take cover when the "controversy" erupted.

That may be one reason the endorsement was released so close to Election Day. Call it a late, positive October surprise for the Roberts' campaign. This will all blow over very, very soon.

Many sports writers call Snyder a football wizard. I would safely call him a public relations wizard, too. The coach managed to make an endorsement in a way that gave himself and the university cover. 

If liberals want to bathe in faux outrage over the issue, then by all means, stew in it. And if they need to believe that Snyder is a doddering old man who made a mistake just chatting to some young Republican in a parking lot, well, I'm sure Snyder doesn't mind being underestimated.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article3505227.html#storylink=cpy