Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Positioning for the big offices

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Positioning for the big offices

The 2015 legislative session is open. Let the torment begin. At some point in the near future, I'll break down a few of the bills that may (or more likely won't) see play this session. 

2015 is all about the budget and school funding. If legislators manage to accomplish one or both within 90 days, I will be shocked. This session is going to go long.

Anyway, the bulk of activity in Topeka in the last few days has been glad-handing. Whatevs. (Though if I see one more picture of a glad-hander in suit or tux smiling next to Sam Brownback at the Governor's inaugural ball, I may have to stop Facebooking for awhile. It's gotten way, way out of hand. And don't get me started on Mary Brownback's white dress. I'm not Perez Hilton, so I'll spare you my worst thoughts -- but seriously, this wasn't a wedding. I'm calling fashion faux pas.)

In the background of the glad-handing and jockeying for popularity, there's a strange undercurrent to this session so far. I have been baffled by what appears to be a lack of really forward-pushing legislation. 

Conservatives won pretty handily. It's the beginning of Brownback's final term. He can't have a third, and if he strikes now, any political stand-offs will be forgotten by the next election at the end of 2016. 

So, where are the calls for dramatic change? Where is the legislation to change the Supreme Court appointment system? Where are the bold plans to consolidate schools or create a school voucher system? 

There's an opportunity to make meaningful, conservative inroads. And still, Republicans are allowing liberals to steer the conversation. It's stunning.

I've been mulling over why it should be this way. First, of course, is the media which never met a conservative or conservative idea that it didn't want to suction out of the atmosphere before the ideas were even birthed or voiced.

That's always going to be the case, though, so it should come as no surprise.

Second, I guess there's possibly, maybe concern about the Brownback campaign loan thing. I don't think this story has legs, but it's moved further than I ever thought possible, so...

Finally, and most likely, there are two very large, very competitive spots about to be ripe for the picking for Kansas politicians. No one wants to do anything to ruffle any feathers, lest it cost them a chance at Pat Roberts' Senate seat in two years or a legitimate shot at the Governor's office in four years.

Who wants those seats? Well, everyone. Who has a chance at them? Can't say for sure.

It's the worst-kept secret in Kansas politics, but Roberts will resign either in 2016 or in 2018. (His term expires in 2020. He will not serve until then.) I can see the Roberts' seat being used to head off a possible primary in the Jerry Moran race. Moran's term expires in 2016.

1. Sam Brownback for Pat Roberts' seat. It's possible that Roberts could wait to retire until 2018, around the same time Brownback's term as Governor expires.

2. Jeff Colyer for Pat Roberts' seat. This is the most likely scenario. There's no question Roberts intends to resign before the end of his term, and there's no doubt Colyer has always had Washington, D.C. in his sights. I personally believe this possibility is the primary reason Roberts ran in 2014 -- to protect the seat for his chosen replacement, Colyer and to help avoid a nasty primary between all four Kansas representatives. Watch for the Milton Wolf people to mount a campaign to keep this from happening. Actually, no matter who the Establishment choice is to replace Roberts, Wolf will be in the race. I have no idea how that shakes out. 

3. Kevin Yoder, Tim Huelskamp, Mike Pompeo, Todd Tiahrt, Lynn Jenkins for Roberts' seat. I don't think Jenkins will be interested. For some insane reason, I think she actually enjoys hanging out with that orange guy in the House. Tiahrt is an incredibly long shot, but I'd be surprised if he didn't become a part of the conversation. The other three are also unlikely. But they'll be interested and possibly angling.

4. Derek Schmidt or Kris Kobach for Roberts' seat. These two are headed for a collision, I think. They're both to the right of center, but they're about as far apart as possible on the right side of the line. Both are angling to take their political careers to the next level. I think they'll both be left out of the conversation when Roberts steps down, but one or both will run for the seat and/or the Governorship in 2018.

Brownback isn't a lame duck Governor, yet, but he's mighty close. I have heard several rumors about who hopes to be Kansas' next Governor, and I anticipate those players will use the next year or so to test the waters.

1. Derek Schmidt. He wants the job. Blech.

2. Kevin Yoder -- I've heard he's interested. I don't see it, but OK. I have trouble envisioning a young, slickster lawyer from Johnson County wooing Kansas farmers. (I KNOW Yoder claims to be from western Kansas, but is anyone buying it?? You CAN actually take the farm out of the boy, and you do it by sending the boy to law school.)

3. Jeff Colyer -- he's the natural choice, but I am positive he's mentally checked out of Kansas and in to something in D.C. The Senate? I'm guessing he'd try for Congress, if Yoder decided to run for Governor, which again -- weird.

4. Kris Kobach -- I want this to happen, but I know Kobach dreams of Washington, also. Kobach has the same problems Yoder has -- he's a northeast Kansas lawyer, who went to the Ivy League no less. Will western Kansas buy what Kobach wants to sell them? I don't know. I live in the northeast. I do not have a farm. I have never driven a tractor, and I get my beef from the grocery store. Every time. 

5. Susan Wagle -- I don't know. There's been a lot of glowing commentary about her lately. I have to believe that's part of some sort of political positioning or a plan to mount some sort of political coup. 

So there you have it. Outside of a budget and some judicial-enforced chatter about school finance, what's happening this legislative session is a warm-up for two very desirable political seats about to open in the next few years.

1 comment:

  1. Don't understand why Dereck Schmidt is a blech choice for governor. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders.