Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Fight for Senate Seats

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fight for Senate Seats

The fight between moderate Republicans and conservatives is getting crafty this primary season. Behind the scenes, there's a real rumble. As Sen. Susan Wagle and Sen. Terry Bruce step into the trenches to fight for the top leadership role in the Kansas Senate--President. 

In this role, the Senate leader decides who gets cherry committee assignments and which bills make it to the floor. 

You'll recall this skirmish really started mid-session after Wagle, the current Senate President, removed Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook from the chairmanship of the Senate Health and Wellness Committee. 

My hazy understanding of what occurred goes something like this: Wagle did not want an anti-Obamacare amendment added to a bill in Pilcher-Cook's committee. Wagle said Pilcher-Cook was removed from her committee chair because she violated a Senate rule. P-Cook quietly released information saying that Wagle had a list of demands to which P-Cook refused to acquiesce. One of those ultimatums was that P-Cook support Wagle over Bruce as Senate President in 2017. I'll let you all be the judge of how reasonable that whole dust up was. 

I have opinions, but I'll spare you a lot of them. I will simply say that in this skirmish, Bruce is more conservative than Wagle, and I believe Gov. Brownback will be quietly supportive of Bruce's efforts over Wagle's. This is odd, considering a few short years ago, there were endless praises from the administration about Wagle. I don't know where things went sour, but it appears they did.

Fast forward to this election cycle. Wagle's future in Senate leadership is not assured. She's losing at least two Senators who definitely supported her-- SenAtor Jeff King, who isn't seeking re-election under somewhat nefarious conditions, and Sen. Mike O'Donnell. (O'Donnell is running for Sedgwick County Commissioner. He's in his 30s and hangs out at fraternity parties.)

And so in an urgent and desperate attempt to maintain her power, Wagle is quietly assisting more moderate-leaning Republicans around the state. She's actively working against some incumbents, by seeking primary challengers AND telling lobbyists not to financially support the campaigns of incumbents who will likely be votes for Bruce. (This, I'm told, is one of the perks of leadership, getting to make demands to lobbyists. Blech.)

Here's a small list of the Senators I have heard Wagle is actively working against: Steve Fitzgerald, Mitch Holmes, Ty Masterson, Dennis Pyle and Tom Arpke. 

Turnabout is probably fair play. I have no specific information on this count, but I would place money on the fact that Joe Patton, a former member of the House who is running for the Senate against incumbent Vicki Schmidt in the primary, is receiving the quiet support of Bruce for similar reasons. I'm told Patton was going to run anyway. Patton, you'll recall, ran against Schmidt in 2012. He lost by 200 votes in a primary in which more than 200 Dems switched their party affiliation. 

 So, savvy voters, as you vote this August, know there's more going on in the trenches than whatever issues these challengers campaign on.This is the part of politics that the vast majority don't recognize or understand. It's unfortunate that it is this way, but there it is.

I'm always #TeamMostConservative, if you care, but I hope you don't!

1 comment:

  1. Bob Dole campaigned for Vicki Schmidt in 2012. Thanks for nothing Bob