Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): The Bloodletting

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Bloodletting

At the Johnson County Republican Party election event, I spent half the evening trying to figure out how conservatives build a bridge with the moderates.

And then I realized that bridge I'm worried about building wouldn't be over water; it would be a flame-licked bridge over the raging pit of Hades. Sorry to sound like a dramatic, hormonal high school girl, but the future the so-called moderates envision excludes God. It's a place where babies are butchered and sold for spare parts, the only people allowed to protect themselves with a weapon are bureaucrats, and everyone receives an allowance from the state. And a future where we build altars to public schools and sprinkle them with the blood sacrifices of the unborn. (Too much? Probably.)

I really spent some quality time asking people: what values do conservatives and so-called moderates share? I can't come up with a single thing. And in the midst of looking for the building blocks for that proverbial bridge, the so-called mods booed when Mary Pilcher-Cook's name was mentioned. They booed as a guy listed Republicans who won in uncontested elections. While conservatives were looking for ways to compromise, moments after leaving many of our crying friends in rooms upstairs, the so-called mods were booing the conservatives, loudly. Publicly. Crassly. Gracelessly. Revoltingly.

As conservatives write the autopsy of this election, there will be plenty of blame to go around. (Yay, circling firing squad! So fun!) As conservatives lay battered and bloody on the proverbial battlefield that was the Marriott Overland Park, blame was scattered among the body parts and tears. 

At the top of the blame list? 

  • Gov. Sam Brownback. He gets a healthy dose. He checked out almost instantly after winning re-election. He is inaccessible. He refuses to fight for conservative principles. Because his public relations team is, I'm sorry, unbelievably bad, he allows the media to define him. (And can we talk a half second about that press release on Monday? Brownback issued a release inserting his opinion into the Trump/Kahn dust-up the day before a primary that was likely to be a referendum on Brownback. Um. Why? Seriously, why? On Monday, Brownback should have been hiding in a corner or out of the country. Seriously, it was not the time for Brownback to remind Kansans of his existence. Did the press release push any of the so-called mods over the top? Probably not. Did it knick conservatives? My Magic 8 Ball says 'Signs Point to Yes." Wrong time. Wrong issue. Just wrong.) 
That said, all Kansas conservatives owe Brownback a debt of gratitude. Brownback's leadership is precisely why conservatives were able to reach the pinnacle in numbers over the last six years. Brownback's Clean Sweep efforts in 2010 and 2012 were nothing short of epic. I don't know that he had the political capital to do the same thing this cycle, but he didn't help at all this time. I'm not saying he should have been in front of TV cameras (bad. no.), but organizing behind the scenes? That would have helped. There was no organization from the top this cycle. None. How else to explain the uncontested Democrat-held seats across the state. I mean, that's just amateur hour.

  • Some conservatives blamed the people at the top of the ticket--Sen. Jerry Moran and Congressman Kevin Yoder. I think that is unfair. Moran and Yoder did not specifically endorse in many primary races, but I know the work many of their campaign staff did behind the scenes. Those workhorses worked. I can't say that a more public declaration of endorsement would have made the difference. That said, both candidates did ask for public endorsements from other officials, despite being unwilling to offer the same. That's not all that cool.
  • Other folks blamed the grassroots folks for not being more involved. This is also unfair. How can the grassroots folks be expected to rally to the conservative cause when one, many weren't asked, and two, when conservative ideals are continually abandoned. Conservatives absolutely capitulated on school funding. I mean surrendered like the French in the face of mild German aggression. Conservatives couldn't pass judicial selection reform. Conservatives biffed on spending cuts. I'm not blaming our elected officials. I understand that sometimes compromise is necessary, but it's difficult to rally to what appear to be lost causes. 
  • Conservatives lost at least one seat in Johnson County, because two conservatives split the vote. Rep. Charles Macheers would be back in avenging in Topeka had Owen Donohue not entered the race.
  • People spent a ton of money on the wrong things this cycle. Conservatives are always running against the wind, because the media loves to run over conservatives and then back up the bus over them again. This makes the ground game even more important--the conservative point of view doesn't fit all that well on a bumper sticker, and we can't look to the traditional media for explanations. While so-called mods and conservatives spent buckets of money on mailers, I think that's money that would have been better spent paying a few people to organize and lead volunteers. The ground game put conservatives, led by Brownback campaign staffers, over the top in the past. And for the most part, conservatives didn't have as large, as long, as regular of a ground game. A great ground game may not have helped everyone over the top; this was always going to be like a year six election of a 2-term president, meaning close districts swing in the opposite direction. BUT a good ground game would have saved some folks. And it wasn't there. We HAVE to organize and communicate between now and November. There's simply no other option.


  1. A bunch of moderate Pro-Life Republicans are in favor of baby butchering? The unborn are thankfully very safe in Kansas. Maybe now our foster kids will be safe again, and our sick kids won't be stuck waiting on endless waiting lists due to a healthcare system privatized to the lowest bidder with zero oversight. Maybe our seniors won't be forced to move out of their homes and into nursing homes that are being starved of funding and losing employees.

    I know you have to feign outrage to protect your gimmick, but as a lifelong KS Pro-Life Republican, Pro-Life used to truly *mean* Pro-Life, not just Pro-Birth. The Ultracons has sullied the name Pro-Life by making it mean strictly Pro-Birth, and who care about anyone after that.

    Last night was the first step in the real conservatives and Pro-Lifers taking back the name "conservative" from math, decency, apathy, and common sense deficient wingnuts.

    It's Morning Again in Kansas.

    - Nick in SE KS

  2. Unfortunately, many of the "good" people (so we thought) forgot their conservative principles when wined, dined, and threatened by the Chamber of Commerce and their twin Kansas AFP "conservatives". The conservative agenda for the Chamber of Commerce and AFP Kansas seems to be only about conserving for their big donor cronies. I warned Kasha Kelly after only 28 supported repealing Common Core when a clear 85 percent of Republican parents and grandparents wanted it repealed, that they would have a bloodbath in the election....they entered office with our help. They lost office when they ignored us and bowed to the Chamber of Commerce. One of our so-called leaders decided to back Sen. Pat RINO Roberts in the last election. He has been a divisive force every since it makes me wonder what they have on him??? The tea party in Kansas was diverted by evil: either selfie style with jealousy and false pretense or by selling out to the establishment or both: The Chamber of Commerce and Kansas AFP in cahoots. We are now left with more RINOs because many are really Democrats who could not win outside of the Republican party name. It seems that We the People need to dump the parties and thumb our noses at the rigged processes.

  3. Beg to differ on a few points:
    1. The mods had a brilliant strategy of motivating people to file as R or U. They tenaciously pursued this strategy right through election day, and their GOTV effort was stronger than conservatives'.
    2. Your 'baby-butchering' comments are part of the problem. Most Rs, mod or conservative, are offended by this characterization (despite the PP behavior). I personally know several of the mods who won and there is no way they favor some of your assumptions there.
    3. The race in D39 was a reflection of the entire election. The conservative Donohoe (who filed very early because he was disappointed in Macheers' votes for the giant tax increase and failure to oust Common Core) ran on principle. Shelee Brim, fueled by the school lobby and city politician Jeff Vaught, filed on the last day. Macheers was never a strong voice in the legislature, thus vulnerable.
    4. The school lobby's organizational capacity was more important than even Brownback's ineptitude at promoting sound fiscal policy and supporting down-ballot candidates. KS GOP (as we knew it) is fractured, leaky and simply unattractive now.

  4. My "beg to differ" comment was directed toward Gidget, FYI.

  5. I was in the middle of the floor at the JOCO watch party last night when the results began to be announced. I was standing next to an elderly couple - wife in wheelchair (I'm going to bet they were younger than I but sure as hell looked much more decrepit.) As the results began I was lamenting the losses to Democrats(Faux Republicans). In just a few seconds I figured that these folks were on the other side. I was floored with the man's comment supporting Democrats and saying that Bill Clinton was too far right for him.

    The Democrats lament that they don't have a viable party in KS and they never will so long as they are so dishonorable that they can't tell what they really believe and run in their own damn party.
    For example Mitra Templin who ran against Willie Dove the House Majority Whip - published a series of flyers that detailed her positions - when I asked the LV County Democrat Party Treasurer to show me a single position of Mitra's that differed with the KS Dem Party - he was speechless.

    I think that many of our candidates did not take the threat this time seriously enough to go absolutely all out to defend their seats. I don't think it was complacency - just a lack of understanding how pervasive & effective the McClatchy (KC Red Star - Wichita Eagle) propaganda was and how well organized and financed the Main Stream Coalition and the KNEA were for this race.

    In the case of District 38, I know that Willie Dove understood the threat he was under and marshalled all the help he could from conservative organizations who understand his conservative credentials and performance.

    He prevailed with 51% of the vote - which says he would have won had even if the young Libertarian was not in the contest.
    That said, I did some not so rough calculations this morning and I suspect that this may have been the most expensive House race in the history of KS. There were 18 mailers between the two candidates most of which were the oversize that require full postage - all four color two side. Both were on paid Facebook popups, they had complete sign coverage of all sizes and miscellaneous other paid publicity. There are about 4000 unique Republican addresses in the 38th district - so that amounted to a total of near 80,000 mailers - This means that this campaign cost the candidates and their supporting PACs north of $125,000.

    Had we stopped this onslaught we could cruise into November - we didn't so we have to understand the forces who would tax us to death and rip every liberty we have away are going to feel empowered - we are going to have to defend as though life depended on it (and it does more than figuratively).

    As Barbara Paulus, our Leavenworth County RNC delegate, said in her post now is not the time to lick wounds - we have a set back but we didn't completely change the state of Kansas by not aggressively attacking those who would try to make us Venezuela or Illinois despite their best yet misguided intentions.

    Let's start now to defend all our incumbents elect those conservatives who did prevail and further remove those judges who would just as soon that we have no legislature at all.

    PS I wrote this Wednesday morning - later in the day the Mainstream Coalition was out with their email saying they need two more to take over the Senate - since the primaries are over these fact challenged progressives will unleash everything they have in Senate Districts with a strong enough Democrat that gives them a possibility to defeat more of our conservative incumbents. Time to bind up our armor and sharpen our weapons to begin our own unrelenting attack now.