Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Thoughts on KS JoCo House Campaign Finance Reports

Friday, July 29, 2016

Thoughts on KS JoCo House Campaign Finance Reports

Looking through Kansas House campaign finance reports, I’m mostly just confused.

Honestly, the big money in the Johnson County races appears to be related to liquor laws, construction, and of course, the Kansas NEA—teachers union, donated to quite a few races. The teachers and contractors are big government types. If you see KNEA or the Heavy Contractors or a lot of construction companies listed on a campaign finance report, you can bet these folks are supporting massive tax increases.

The liquor money is trickier. HyVee donated quite a bit this cycle. The grocery chain, based in Iowa, wants to sell liquor in its stores. UnCork is advocating for looser liquor laws as well. Meanwhile, groups like the Association for Liquor Laws are advocating for the status quo. These donors didn’t appear to donate along ideological lines. Craig McPherson and Mitra Templin don’t strike me as birds of a feather.

One thing almost all media is ignoring in its coverage of the political race for cash is that money raised this period is only part of the picture. So, while Yael and others are reporting that challengers or so-called moderates are winning the campaign finance race, he ignores that most incumbents started with substantial war chests. Take for example the race in the 8th District. The seat is currently held by Craig McPherson. He raised more than $4,300 this period while his primary challenger Patty Markley raised $22,700. At first glance, it looks like she outraised him almost 4-to-1. In reality, McPherson started with $28,000. Perhaps he spent more time campaigning and a lot less time attempting to raise money this period than Markley did.

You can read campaign finance reports for yourself here.

Of interest:
  •  Of Johnson County House incumbents, Erin Davis raised more than anyone else. She was outraised this period by quite a few challengers in other districts. In her own race for the 15th District, she outraised her opponents by a healthy amount.
  • In the 43rd District, my home district, the challenger Don Roberts raised a ton of money from very few donors. Specifically, he raised almost $15,000 from a variety of addresses for Riley Entertainment. This outfit owns sports bars and pubs. Most notably in the JO, they own Saints bars. Overall, he raised $22,000 this period to add to the $15,000 he raised in the prior period. That’s an awful lot of money for my little district in the poorest part of Johnson County. I can’t help but wonder what on earth they want. I do not trust this filing. I do not trust this candidate. That said, I’m not voting for the other guy either. When you hang with a bunch of people who literally brag about shooting stray, friendly dogs that wander into their yards, sorry, I just can’t. There's a lot more to it than that, but not all of it is fit for publication! Bill Sutton, the incumbent, raised $4,900 this filing period and started with $4,600. Though he’s been outspent and out raised, I still think Sutton wins. Whichever candidate takes the race will do it without my vote.
  •  Owen Donohoe, a former state Representative challenging incumbent Charles Macheers in the 39th District , appears to be self-financing. Donohoe has written checks worth $20,000 to his own campaign.  Macheers started with $18,000 and raised $8,100 this filing period. There’s a third candidate in this race; it’s one of those teacher-y, spend-more-money types. She raised more than $10,000.
  •  Off topic, but I can’t believe Republicans couldn’t find someone to run against Nancy Lusk, a Democrat running unopposed in the 22nd.
  •  It doesn’t cost much to be a player in Kansas politics. If you’re a private individual looking to buy access, I recommend donating $200 to 5 candidates per cycle. That’s $1,000 every two years, or $500 per year.

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