Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): October 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

With Republicans Like These, We Don't Need Dems

Did you feel a gravitational pull sucking small items into a new orbit this weekend? That was a bunch of enormous heads gathering in the same place. The MAINstream Coalition hosted a dinner and awards ceremony. "Stand Up, Speak Out" they called it. I've got a better title, but it's rude, so I won't go there.

The MAINstream Coalition is a group that says its goal is to "take Kansas back from extremists and their ideologies." This dishonesty about who they are and what they stand for is just mind blowing. 

This is an organization of elitists who have never seen a Democrat too extreme, but who detest conservatives of all stripes. This misleading organization, which pretends to just be some normal folks fed up with the well, commoners like you, hosted an awards dinner this weekend. During the dinner, they gave awards to some other dishonest organizations including Johnson County Educators, Stand Up Blue Valley, and Women for Kansas. (Women for Kansas--these are the folks who had a drum circle in Wichita in 2014. A literal drum circle. Guys, I can't even. But because they're shills for liberal causes, we're supposed to pretend they're not out there. They're "mainstream." Um. Not buying it.) 

The dinner and awards ceremony also recognized the Alliance for Healthy Kansas, Kansans for Fair Courts, and Four Former Governors, Kansas Contractors Association, and the League of Women Voters of Kansas. Greg and Sybil Orman played host and hostess. You remember Orman? The very odd guy for whom Democrats disenfranchised their own voters, because Sen. Pat Roberts wasn't "mainstream" enough. Pfft.

Here's how we can say without a doubt MAINstream's goal ISN'T getting extremists out of politicis--the evening's keynote speaker was Yael Aboulhalkah. 

I'll be honest: the MAINstream Coalition offends me. It's not that they exist. Elitists will always gather to stroke one another's egos. The part that offends me is that they do it under the guise of being just regular folks looking out for the rest of the regular folks. I really don't do pretentious. It's not my thing. I don't get it, and I can't stand it. (And if you ever see me and think I'm being pretentious--please tell me. I won't shoot the messenger.) Nothing good comes from people who don't have an ounce of humility, and the MAINstream Coalition is a large group of folks just like that. Getting a bunch of enormous egos together in the same place at the same time is almost ALWAYS a terrible plan. See the U.S. Congress. 

The largest egos in Johnson County gathered this weekend. Unreasonable plans were likely hatched. I am in the process of digging up a guest list, but in the meantime, I'll leave you with this: These Republicans attended: John Skubal, Stephanie Clayton, Barbara Bollier.

I sincerely want the Republican Party to be a big tent party. (I'll do my best to pull the entire thing to the right, as far away from Democrat-Lite as is humanly possible.) That said, if your aims and goals more closely align with the Democrats, maybe you're in the wrong party. Or maybe I am.

Campaign Finance Reports Due Today

Campaign finance reports are due today, so there may be notes of interest later in the day. Some have already filed. You can view those here.

I also recommend checking out this Twitter feed. @KansasMeadowlark keeps an eye on finance reports, and he will likely tweet some of the interesting things he finds. I don't know if it will be regularly updated throughout the day, but make a note and check back.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Well That Explains It -- Huelskamp IN for 2018

Yesterday I wondered why I was still receiving fundraising campaign emails from Tim Huelskamp. Was Huelskamp trying to pay off campaign debt? 

Today, I learn the answer: He's fundraising to run again. Huelskamp has already filed to run for Congress in 2018. I'm good with that. Actually, I'm great with that.

I wasn't a fan the primary opponent who beat Huelskamp, Roger Marshall for a number of reasons. I know a lot of people think Huelskamp's way of working in Washington is questionable, but I'll tell you what--we need people who aren't afraid to make a stand in Washington. I'm hopeful that Marshall will surprise me, and take some strong, conservative stances. But I'm not going to hold my breath. I don't want to die.

In the meantime, just the knowledge that Huelskamp is gearing up to run in 2018 ought to be a sufficient hedge to keep Marshall on the conservative straight and narrow. I'll take it.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

We Should Be Winning

This is going to sound a bit like a pity party, and you're invited! Break out the Donald Trump party hats

There is no reason on Earth that Republicans should be losing this election cycle. None. We have a President presiding over an economy that hasn't seen GDP growth of more than 3 percent during his term. His average has been 1.5 percent. When he leaves office he will be the first President in HISTORY without a single year of 3-plus percent economic growth. It's pathetic.

Meanwhile, the Democrats' signature achievement of the last century, (other than those glowing moments when their guy Bull Conner was releasing attack dogs on black people in the streets) Obamacare is costing the average American thousands more per year. 

Also, remember all those times the President said, if you like your doctor you can keep him? Lie.

Remember all of those times the President said Obamacare was going to bring costs down? Lie.

And yet, it appears that voters are about to hand the keys to the White House over to the woman who once said, "Before it was called Obamacare, it was called Hillarycare." Sweet sassy, she's going to double down on that dumpster fire of a healthcare policy. And it's awful. (Remember how Republicans warned of this VERY problem? Remember how we also warned about death panels? We were right last time, so you know: Think on it.)

Here in Kansas, the Sunflower State is one of the bright spots in the nation where state revenues are concerned. It physically hurts me to say this, because I am an advocate of starving the state beast--I mean starving it down to supermodel-before-a bikini-runway-show size, and we're not. And I don't like it, but that's not what everyone else in the herd is upset about. No, Kansans are stompy mad, because we aren't spending enough. It's the most baffling thing I've seen in quite some time.

Personal incomes nationwide are down. The American populace hasn't had a real raise in decades. Despite that fact, Kansas revenues are up. Schools are receiving more money than they've ever had--not that student scores are improving. Lawyers argued in front of the Kansas Supreme Court last month that student scores are so bad we should be giving schools MORE money.

Meanwhile, it's nearly impossible to get the truth through to anyone. I could run around all day stapling pamphlets of reality to people's foreheads, and it would do no good. Kansans drive on some of the best roads in America--daily. Sunflower state drivers can't swing a steering wheel without hitting an orange barrel, and yet, Kansans appear to be clamoring for more money to be spent on roads, because, I guess, someone told them we're not spending enough on roads. I do not understand believing a line of lobbyist propaganda rather than believing your own eyes--but that's where we're at.

I know what entity I blame, but I'll spare you, because that's not the point. The point is this: Everyone has lost their minds. Conservatives SHOULD be winning this election up and down the ballot by numbers that make Reagan's 1984 landslide look like a nail biter. 

Numbers suggest that we're not winning. In Johnson County, Democrat advance ballots are pouring in. (There are more Republican ballots pouring in as well, but not enough to stem the Dem tide at this point.) It looks like Republicans may be losing in Kansas and nationally. I'm going to spare you all my thoughts on why we're losing nationally. I'm sure you can figure it out. If you haven't I'm sure the Republican circular firing squad festivities scheduled for Nov. 9 are going to be something really special. I'll make sure you get your invite.

However, I'm happy to explain the problem in Kansas: We're not good at messaging. Yes, conservatives must deal with a nearly Satanic media who will stop at nothing to make conservatives look silly or stupid. Surveys consistently show that the American populace--and especially Kansans--are right-leaning people. If we could lay out our ideas (and stand by them), we would be winning the debate. But we have to work on explaining those ideas. We have to work at getting the message out, preferably without being insulting or ridiculous. (I'm not going to name any names, but if you need examples, call me. I'll provide them.)

But that's not our only problem. The other part of our problem is near universal refusal to stand on principle without waffling. I think we're going to see massive amounts of squish coming from our party in the next few years. So much that I'm going to have to carry a barf bucket around. It's going to be that bad. 

We are going to have to decide what we stand for if we want our party to survive. At this point, I don't have a clue what we stand for at all, and I'm kind of afraid to ask. 

I'll just say this: People admire and value consistency in messaging, thought, and deed. Even when they disagree with you, they value and understand when you have a principle, and you stick to it. We need to figure out what it is we stand for, and then practice standing for it without looking like Loony Tunes. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Barb Shelly Writes Hit Piece. Shocker.

I try to give most journalists and even editorialists the benefit of the doubt. It's a difficult job, and everyone hates you all of the time no matter what you do.

That said, come on, Barb. Make an effort to be fair and honest. I mean a tiny effort--not a huge one--no one expects that much. 

The piece she wrote--this one for the Pitch (it in the trash), is titled "It Hasn't Been Mary Pilcher-Cook's Year--and Her Opponent Vicki Hiatt Knows It." It should probably have been called "Stompy Editorialist Hates Conservative Legislator" or something along those lines. But... that's not the headline the Pitch went with.

Now, if this was just your typical hit piece filled with innuendos and no effort to contact the subject of the hit, meh. It wouldn't be worthy of comment. Barb Shelly has always been stompy angry at conservatives, and there's probably no amount of common sense or even common decency that's ever going to change that. However, Shelly went out of her way to act as if she was writing a "news" piece about the state of the race in Shawnee. Um. Yeah right.

How do I know this? I have the email exchange. Shelly sent Pilcher-Cook an email requesting an interview. Pilcher-Cook sent an email in return saying she'd answer emailed questions--probably knowing that Shelly has a virulent contempt for people who think differently than she does. So, Pilcher-Cook answered the questions. It reads almost like a candidate questionnaire. Innocuous enough--you can read it at the link here.

Note that Shelly says she's writing a "story" not an editorial. She's interested in Pilcher-Cook's thoughts on "your school financing vote, your opinion of your chances in the upcoming election and other matters."

That would reasonably lead a person to believe the "story" would at least attempt to be unbiased, right? That's not how the story reads. It starts by lambasting Pilcher-Cook for being a conservative--this isn't a secret. Pilcher-Cook doesn't pretend, which is actually refreshing if you ask me. We've got a whole lot of folks where you kind of have to take a wandering guess about where they'll wind up on an issue. (And don't even get me started on the so-called mod Republicans, who are probably voting for Hilary and asking George Soros for funding while pretending to be Republicans. I can't even...I have a lot more respect for the people who own the fact that they're Democrats by affiliating with the Dem Party.)

I'm all about a well-timed editorial explaining why your own opinion is right and everyone else is a fool. But it undermines the journalism profession when lines like this one "That bodes poorly for Pilcher-Cook, who would much rather talk about rifles and the unborn than about her support for income-tax cuts and the education of actual Kansas children" end up in a news story.

Um. Show me that in the answers to the questions, please. Oh wait, you can't. Because no one said that--not that Pilcher-Cook was actually asked what she'd rather talk about.

The state of journalism today is pretty much in shambles. It's no wonder most people of good conscience refuse to believe half of what they read. Just be honest about who you are and what you stand for. The Pitch shouldn't be calling that piece news, and neither should the person who wrote it.

A Small Rant about a Planned Parenthood Sandwich

Head to your safe spaces. I need to rant.

So, if you know me, you know I have refused to give to United Way--since the inception of having two nickels to rub together. Call it a religious objection. United Way gives to Planned Parenthood, and I freaking refuse. Anyway, at the cube gig, there's a full on push to get us to pledge money to UW. It's so not happening.

They closed the cafeteria last week, so if you forgot your lunch and wanted to eat, you were almost forced to buy a PP sandwich. I'm not doing it. I don't care what everyone else is doing, but for the love of all things holy--lay OFF of me. Back away, and we'll all be good. Rant over.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

County Commission Doesn't Deserve Any More of Your Money

The Johnson County Board of Commissioners seeks more of your money. They're seeking a quarter-cent sales tax that they're calling a public safety increase to fund a new courthouse. Here are the top 10 reasons why you shouldn't give it to them:

1. King Louie.
2. King Louie.
3. King Louie.
4. King Louie.
5. King Louie.
6. King Louie.
7. King Louie.
8. King Louie.
9. King Louie.
10. King Louie.

Also, King Louie. The current members of the Johnson County Commission voted to spend $22 million to renovate a building that no one wanted. They made this decision over the objections of well, almost all of their constituents. Other than the friend of county chair Ed Eilert, from whom the county bought the dilapidated building, a few people on the Museum and Parks boards who stand to personally gain from its renovation, and the contractors who get to perform (and profit) from the renovation, I can't find a single human who supported the board's decisions related to King Louie. 

If you'll recall, the county purchased the dilapidated former skating rink and bowling alley back in 2011. They paid $1 million for the property, and learned a few years later that the building was worth less than they paid for it because the building was falling down. They made the purchase with no specific plans for the building, because apparently, no one can have too many buildings just laying around gathering dust. 

Fast forward another year, and the commissioners agreed to spend another $2 million on the building to keep it from caving in. Fast forward to last year, these commissioners made up some reasons they should spend $22 million of your tax money to renovate the building. I can barely think of the King Louie debacle without feeling just shaky angry.

This was the same year they increased property taxes by about 7 percent at the same time property values increased by about the same rate! So the commissioners essentially presided over a 14 percent tax increase.

They bought King Louie and funded its renovations with the full knowledge and understanding that the courthouse was too small; that it was an aging building; and that it lacked disabled accessibility. They KNEW these things when they were voting to spend massive amounts of cash for things we don't need--like a dilapidated building.

And then there's this: Johnson County already HAS a permanent sales tax devoted to public safety. That public safety sales tax was implemented to replace to quarter-cent sales tax that at one time was directed to local schools. You wanna know WHY commissioners implemented a public safety tax back then, rather than one to fund a courthouse renovation? Because county residents in a taxpayer funded survey were asked which kinds of sales tax they'd be most likely to support. Public safety topped the list. A tax for a new courthouse was dead last. 

County commissioners have known there was a need for a courthouse for nearly a decade, perhaps even longer. But they were worried voters would turn it down, and they couldn't risk NOT continuing a sales tax that was about to expire. That's the truth.

And these current commissioners, with the exception of John Toplikar and Michael Ashcraft, are part of the rampant spending problem in Johnson County. We may need a new courthouse--I question whether we need a coroner's office--but it can wait another 2 or 4 years until we have a majority of commissioners who can be trusted to be good stewards of public money. Right now, we have two such commissioners. We need four. A vote for Benjamin Hodge against Steve Klika helps get us closer. Klika is one of the worst tax-and-spend offenders on the board right now.

This tax should be scrapped until we can get more adults on the board, and even with Toplikar and Hodge wins this fall, we're still one vote short of a reasonable commission.

Violent Dems Attack Free Speech

I keep seeing defaced Trump/Pence signs in my Facebook feed, and obviously, the complaints about sign theft are common. I'm not going to hold my breath that anyone is going to be prosecuted for these things.

However, in one instance, I sure hope the Johnson County District Attorney's Office can find a break from prosecuting rapes and murders to throw the book at the person or persons who vandalized a car in Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook's district this weekend. (The DA's office once informed me they were far too busy prosecuting real crimes like rape and murder to bother with piddly little things like open records request violations. I'm still not over it, but I digress.)

You're wondering why it matters in which Senate district the vandalism occurred. Well, it appears the vandalism may have been related to an MPC yard sign display. 

I have had about enough of Democrats (and their so-called moderate supporters in the Republican Party) who think it's acceptable to trash another person's belongings simply because they disagree with another's politics, but that's where we're at. This kind of assault is an assault on all of us, because it chills free speech. 

Fortunately, this story has a decent ending. The Mary Pilcher-Cook campaign has offered to pay for the damages. 

Holy Bias, Batman...Part, 6,109,871

The media JUST can't be bothered to be honest about Planned Parenthood. The dishonesty is so common, I typically don't even bother mentioning it. It's like writing about how the sky is blue; grass is green; Kathleen Sebelius is evil. Everyone already knows these things, so why bother scribbling about them?

And  yet, this morning I stumbled upon a story from public radio suggesting that Kansas is wasting money on legal fees to avoid making payments to Planned Parenthood. 

Um. Yeah. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is DEFENDING a lawsuit brought against it by Planned Parenthood. I guess whenever some Baby Chop Shop or other entity decides to sue the state of Kansas, the Sunflower State is just supposed to roll over to not waste money on legal fees?

Is THAT what KCUR is suggesting? Just let that one marinate for a few minutes. That is a stunningly moronic idea, and a great way to bankrupt the state. 

I realize that the people over at KCUR think the correct response wherever the Baby Chop Shop is concerned is for women (and probably men) to just throw their panties and wads of cash at them, but some of just aren't going to do it. This story. Planned Parenthood SUES the state; Republicans blamed for spending money to defend it. I can't even.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cocktail Party Guy Misleads to Dig for Votes (Gross)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is throwing out all of the stops attempting to get some guy they dug up at a Mission Hills cocktail party into the U.S. House of Representatives. The alarming part of the entire thing is that there is polling to suggest the race between Congressman Kevin Yoder and random-guy-who-got-rich-off-backs-of-union-workers-turned-cocktail-party-elbow-rubber is within the margin of error.

This should not be happening, and the fact that it is sends me into a special kind of shaky angry. Only, I can't decide at whom I'm angriest; Dems for misleading people or potential voters for not doing their own due diligence to learn the truth.

Cocktail Party Guy (CPG), the Dems' Kansas Third District Congressional candidate, hasn't lifted a finger to help his own campaign. As far as I know, he's sent some volunteers from Washington out into the depths of Prairie Village seeking a few votes, and he's walked in one parade. If CPG isn't even willing to work to get the job, what makes anyone think he'll lift a finger to help a constituent if he's given a ticket to D.C.? I have a feeling a guy who was plucked out of the local cocktail party circuit will be far too busy trying to ingratiate himself into the D.C. cocktail party circuit to bother with paltry people in the third district of Kansas, if he manages to get elected.

CPG's campaign is being run by the DCCC and by Washington Democrat insiders. (The WORST kind of insiders, people. The WORST.) I can't find that he has a single person with a 913 phone number on his staff. 

But the fact that CPG is a typical elitist Democrat who can't be bothered to mix it up with the little people isn't the part of this whole thing that I find so egregious--though, it's pretty gross.

The part I find most disturbing is that the DCCC is running advertisements filled with absolute lies and falsehoods. That's irritating. CPG's ads all go something like this: Yoder is Sam Brownback's best friend, and the Brownback budget was Yoder's idea.

What's worse is there are apparently some stupids buying the story. That's the part I absolutely can't take. Our electorate is already PAINFULLY unaware of how things work, and it makes me sick that instead of educating people in the truth, the DCCC is spreading lies and misinformation. I thought they cared about education? It's discouraging to see the Dems use outright lies and misinformation to prop up their (barely making an effort) candidate. 

The whole thing is ridiculous. Yoder was elected to the U.S. House in 2010. Brownback ran for Governor that same year. The two men have never served in the same political body at the same time. In fact, they've barely served in the same political body period. Brownback DID serve in the U.S. House in 1994, probably about the time Yoder was finishing high school. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Yoder wasn't "advising" Brownback back then. Brownback was in the U.S. House for two years, and then he ran for U.S. Senate, a body of which Yoder hasn't ever been a member. 

Brownback and Yoder ARE members of the same party, but pretending Yoder is advising Brownback is a lot like Republicans making advertisements suggesting CGP advised former Sen. Robert Byrd, West Virginia Democrat. Perhaps the Kansas Dem candidate somehow advised former Sen. Byrd about being a member of the Ku Klux Klan. We can't say for sure that didn't happen. After all, CGP is a Democrat and so was Byrd. And Byrd was busy organizing the Klan about the time CPG was alive--so... connection? It's entirely possible. I may make a commercial.

It's shameful that voters can't count on the DCCC to be honest about local issues. Misleading voters instead of educating them is pathetic for a political party that says it values education. 

What's even more disturbing is that there are voters who can't see through these outright lies and mistruths. Yoder doesn't have anything to do with Kansas' budget. The members of the U.S. Congress don't have anything to do with state funding of local school districts. Voters will have to decide if they want a Congressman who tells the truth, or one who is willing to lie in the quest for power.

It's a pretty easy choice for me, but then, I know exactly who and what entities are responsible for funding local schools. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

New County Party Leadership Team Elected

There's new leadership in town and they've got massive shoes to fill. Last night, Johnson County precinct men and women elected a new chair and his slate of vice chair, secretary, and treasurer.

Mike Jones, a former candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives, was given the nod. Jones ran against Rep. Nancy Lusk, a Democrat from Overland Park, in 2014. (If you'd like a good snicker about Lusk, please visit her Facebook page.) Anyway, the Jones slate includes Vice Chair Robyn Essex, Secretary Diane Macheers, and Treasurer Craig Campbell. They faced a competing slate of Mike Kuckelman for chair, Laura McConwell for vice chair, Theresa Seagraves for Secretary and Steven Wiebler for Treasurer.

The election wasn't close. The Jones team took 235 votes to Kuckelman's 135. This was surprising to me, because the Kuckelman slate was basically an incumbent one. Seagraves replaced Ronnie Metsker as chair, and Kuckelman was treasurer. That team did an amazing job and can take much credit for Republican successes in the last 8 years.

I had heard that there was a little bit of a negotiation between Jones' and Kuckelman's people to determine a slate. One group was to run for the Third District leadership and the other was to run for JoCo. I don't know what occurred between the time I heard that rumor and the Kuckelman team announcing a slate, but something did. I honestly figured if a savvy guy like Kuckelman (universally liked, connected, and respected) had crafted a slate, he must have the votes to win lined up. 

That said, I couldn't imagine a majority of grassroots people agreeing to vote for a slate that included Laura McConwell. The former Mission mayor is mostly known at this point for a disastrous Mission driveway tax. Gov. Brownback re-appointed her to the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission and the Republican-majority Senate torpedoed it in a 19-18 vote. She's well-liked and a Brownback supporter, but far more moderate than the vast majority of Republican grassroots people, and that driveway tax continues to be an anvil on a chain around her neck.

The Jones slate had been working on an effort to takeover the party for quite some time. From attempting to put their players in key leadership roles in the bazillion Johnson County Republican Party clubs to hosting a precinct committeeman and woman thank you event, they've been working for this goal for at least a year, and perhaps even longer. Their early entry into the leadership race and their year-long groundwork effort was like the deciding factor in the race for leadership.

They're going to face tremendous challenges. Before the leadership election, Kuckelman gave the treasurer's report, and it was sobering one. Essentially, the party has about $5,000 to its name right now, and this is the most expensive time for the organization. In a few weeks, the party will host an election night event at the Marriott. That won't be free.

Often, the county party can rely on the financial assistance of Republican candidates, but with a scourge of new candidates and a tough election cycle, most candidates need to spend money financing their own races--not assisting the party. (And I don't think we can be certain the newbies will be all that interested in assisting with the Republican Party. Yeah, I said it out loud.)

And then there's this: The lease on the JCRP headquarters expires at the end of December. Kuckelman said the space owner wants to get a retail business in there, so JCRP will have to move. How does JCRP do that without any money in the bank? It will be a challenge.

My fervent hope is that the new leadership team is committed to fundraising, fundraising, fundraising and keeping the doors open, wherever those doors may be. Having a party office has been wonderful for advancing Republican ideals and getting Republicans elected. It's a place where candidates on all parts of the spectrum can pop in and request assistance, and a place where grassroots people and people new to the political world can stop and ask questions. It's a one-stop shop for all things Republican, and I hope the new team is committed to not just keeping the doors open, but to expanding hours. In this political climate we're going to need all the help we can get.

Speaking of the political climate, there was a little bit of an attempt for a coup last night. Following the leadership election, Steve Shute moved to suspend the rules. Shute explained that people weren't given proper notice for the meeting and so the meeting should be recessed so more people could self-nominate for delegate and seek election at a future meeting. 

There was a hasty debate, and had the meeting not dragged on into eternity, there's a chance Shute's motion may have been successful. There did seem to be a dearth of candidates on the delegate list. (Full disclosure: I forget to self-nominate, but I did know about the meeting and the deadline. So mea culpa.)

Now about that meeting: Guys, it was way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way too long. It wasn't the counting or the voting that took up so much time. It was the talking. The brutal, soul sucking speeches from folks politicking. Bless their hearts.

Congressman Kevin Yoder gave a rousing speech (that everyone in the room had heard at least once). I was moved for the first 3-minutes and then silently pleading that he would stop talking. And then when Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer stepped to the podium, the air was sucked from the room. The first 3 minutes were enjoyable, but every minute after that was excruciating. This isn't personal. I like both of those guys. They've done an amazing job and they're continuing to fight the good fight. But for the love of all things, everyone in that room was ready to get on with the program. A little self awareness, friends! That's all I'm asking! 

And then, Jones' and Kuckelmans' nominators gave speeches. And then Jones and Kuckelman gave speeches. I like the speeches, and I think it's important that we have an idea of the candidates' plans. However, we need time limits. On all of the speeches--from candidates, from electeds, from every person who steps to the podium. And we needed it last night more than ever before. We're in the midst of a very difficult election, and many of the people in that room have been walking precincts several days a week, phone banking for candidates or issues, or doing things that already take hours away from their families. There's a time for windy speeches, but last night wasn't it. 

And while we're on the topic of working for candidates, one thing Yoder said that bears repeating: I sure hope everyone in that room had done some canvassing and phone banking and envelope stuffing this cycle, but it does seem like the good will and effort of volunteers has dried up a bit this cycle. (I totally get it. We're facing some serious headwinds, and it hasn't been all that pleasant, but now candidates need your help more than ever!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Shorts--an Old Bill, Douglas County, and George Brett

Giving Teachers a Tax Break

I'm told there was a bill either last year or the year before that attempted to give teachers an income tax break. It died an unceremonious death. I'm trying to track this bill down. I believe the old legislation was the brain child of J.R. Claeys, a House member from Salina. 

Kansas Senate Candidate Echo Van Meteren suggested giving teachers and corrections officers an income tax exemption. I don't love everything about the idea; I really don't like rewarding or punishing behavior via the tax code, but I think it's a political winner that accomplishes the goal of getting more money to teachers without laundering it through Topeka. 

Sun Shines in Kansas

Good things are coming out of Kansas, but you wouldn't know it if you watch the nightly news cast or read the paper. Contrary to popular belief, the sky isn't falling. 

My favorite blogger, Bob Weeks at Wichita Liberty, reprinted an email that lists some of the good news about the Sunflower State. Read it here.

Media Covers Douglas County Republican Allegations

Yesterday, I wrote about the potentially scandalous allegations the Douglas County Republican Party made against the county clerk's office. I wondered whether the media would bother covering it.

We have an answer. Several news outlets picked up the story. Notably, the Lawrence Journal-World and a television station in Lawrence. There may be others.

Revolting Actions in JoCo Election Office

I am absolutely revolted by the allegations about the former Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby. I always had great respect for Newby, despite whispers from those who worked in the county election office that all was not well. I assumed the whispers I heard were simply personality conflicts. It appears that wasn't the case.

Newby had an illicit affair with (someone I went to high school with) an employee half his age, whom he promoted. When the new commissioner took over--after Secretary of State Kris Kobach recommended Newby for a job at the Federal Election Commission--Newby's office was shuttered for weeks while investigators examined the things Newby left behind.

It's always been my experience that how someone treats his spouse is a pretty good indication of the integrity he'll show in other areas of his life. My hope is that these horrible stories about what occurred in the election office during Newby's tenure are some kind of political witch hunt. But the emails and news stories suggest otherwise. Ugh.

Did George Brett Endorse a Kansas Democrat?

You'd be forgiven for thinking that's the case. A Democrat in Leavenworth sent a mailer giving the subtle impression that former Kansas City Royals' great George Brett has endorsed him. That would be a major coup, especially since Brett is a Republican.

The questionable mailer is campaigning against Tony Barton, a Leavenworth Republican. Barton should be sent back to Topeka. His opponent should reconsider his questionable mailer.

Making a Ruckus

I'll be appearing on this week's edition of Ruckus on KCPT. It airs on Thursday, but you will also be able to catch it online. The taping has yet to occur, so I'll take those prayers for discernment and good hair.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Things the Media Ignores, Part 9,221

The Douglas County Republican Party sent a press release to local media the other day, asking them to investigate discrepancies with advanced voting applications mailed to Douglas County voters. 

The press release noted that on Sept. 12, the Douglas County Clerk, Jamie Shew, mailed advance voter applications--but not to all voters. According to the Douglas County Republican Party, more Democrat voters than Republican voters received the applications to advance vote. 

"When you compare the list of households that received the mailer to registered voters in Douglas County, there is a slight, but clear discrepancy between the Republican and Democrat households that received the application in question." 

The DCRP made a Kansas Open Records Request to obtain the list of voters who received the application mailer and cross-checked the list with voters. Democrats received these applications at a higher rate than Republicans.

DCRP research revealed that Democrats were over-represented in receiving the application by about 1.7 percent. There are three senate districts in Douglas County -- 2, 3, and 19--but state Senate District 2 was over-represented by 4 percent versus district registration percentages in the raw voter file. 

The DCRP raises some important questions:

Why weren't all Douglas County voters sent the application?

Who decided which voters received the applications and which ones didn't? 

It will be interesting to see if any of the local media attempt to write about this critical issue. The DCRP sent information to 
the Lawrence Journal World, the Tonganoxie Mirror, The Topeka Capital Journal, Hawver's Report, KAKE, Kansas First News, the Kansas City Star and the Associated Press, WIBW, and the Wichita Eagle.

Elections are often decided by fewer than 100 votes. If the Douglas County Clerk was attempting to influence an election, voters have the right to know.

Great Idea--Long Presser

Kansas Senate candidate Echo Van Meteren yesterday announced a plan to increase pay for teachers and correctional officers. Van Meteren is somewhat a political newcomer, but she's married to a political old timer, Kris Van Meteren. Kris is owner of Singularis Group, a political consulting firm. She faces incumbent Sen. Tom Holland, Baldwin City Democrat. 

Echo gave a (too long) press conference yesterday, and unfortunately, I can't find that any print media picked up the story. The press conference was marginal, but the plan she announced is brilliant. Her proposal would eliminate income taxes for full-time teachers and correctional officers, thereby increasing their pay.

Here's why the suggestion is so smart:

Increasing teacher pay has been a critical campaign issue this cycle. However, legislators actually have zero say in teacher pay. That decision is left up to school administrators and school boards. (Just one of the many reasons the electorate's fury at the legislature is so misplaced.) Legislators don't have the authority or the ability to wave a magic wand and give teachers more money. It doesn't work that way. I don't think it ever has. 

That said, legislators ARE responsible for tax policy, and giving teachers and correctional officers a break on their income taxes does exactly what voters say they want: Putting more money in teachers' pockets. This plan would impact the state budget by less than 1 percent. (It's a wash. Teachers get more money, but it doesn't come at the expense of the rest of the taxpayers.)

This plan also is savvy because it takes the wind out of the fighting sails of two factions of Republicans. On one side, you have Republicans who appear to be hellbent on giving more money to public schools even if it means raising taxes for everyone else. And on the other side,  you have conservatives who aren't all that keen on absconding more money from my wallet. (Thank you, conservatives!) 

As Echo said in a press release, "Small business owners have already been granted this benefit...Why not extend the same benefit to teachers and corrections officers?"

While I'm not a big fan of using the tax code to reward or punish folks, this is a politically wise move on Echo's part, and for Republicans in general. This is a political winner, and I hope it catches steam. It gives voters what they want without laundering the cash through Topeka, which should be the ultimate goal. 

Echo is in a difficult race. Holland ran for Governor back in 2010 and was soundly walloped by Gov. Sam Brownback. However, he hasn't had much trouble finding voters willing to send him back to Topeka to serve in the House or the Senate. He served in the Kansas House from 2003-2008 and has been in the Senate since 2009.

Angered voters ousted a lot of incumbents during the Republican primary last August. If this strain of anti-incumbency is particularly virulent, I hope voters' ire extends to state Sen. Tom Holland. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

There's No Crying in Politics

Over at KCUR--public radio--there's concern about campaigns being "ugly." (My eye balls hurt from all of the rolling necessary when reading this story, so beware if you click on the link.)

The campaigns are "ugly," because someone is conducting a push poll suggesting that Logan Heley, a Dem, championed implementation of transgender bathrooms on campus and in dorms while at the University of Southern California, used marijuana and belonged to a rowdy fraternity. The push poll also suggests that Heley has never had a full-time job and lives at home with his parents.

Assuming all of these things are true and there's no reason to believe any of it is false, this doesn't seem like "ugly" campaigning to me. It seems like campaigning, and not even all that nasty. 

Dinah Sykes, the Republican who beat Greg Smith in a volatile primary, denied any involvement in it. And here's the part that almost makes me lose it: According to the reporter Sam Zeff, Sykes was "clearly emotional," in a phone interview denying involvement. (Not that we can trust Sam Zeff's take on the whole thing. Zeff hates Republicans so much, he stalked one. He was fired from a television job for stalking Phill Kline and Kline's wife and children, so take anything he writes with a truck load of salt.)

There's no crying in politics. I'm not a feminist--mostly because the word has been bastardized and I don't fit the mold of a liberal cry baby who stomps my feet and makes demands. However, stop it with the emotions. Just stop. If you ever see me crying, you should start running. That's pure anger leaking from my face. Otherwise, a catch in the voice--tears-- to a reporter? This should not happen unless someone has died. Get it together. 

Sykes adamantly denies involvement (and I believe her), and Heley accuses dark money from Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Susan Wagle. Guys, the suggestion that Brownback and Wagle are funding in concert to elect Sykes is comical. I have no insider information, but I do have common sense. That's not happening. Now that the race for Senate President is all but wrapped up, there's no reason for Wagle to spend dark money on the Sykes' race, and Sykes spent all summer bashing Brownback. So it seems unlikely that the Governor is opening wallets on her behalf.

I have some suspicions about who may have had a hand in funding this (not unreasonable) push poll. For a guy who has never held a full-time job (other than internships), Heley has shown a remarkable ability to fundraise. He raised $55,000 leading up to the August primaries.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Dems Making Headway

It's time for an all-out assault by the grassroot conservatives. 

Trust me, I know how desperately every conservative would like to stick a head in the sand, curl up in the fetal position, and listen to maudlin music in a dark room until Nov. 9, but now is not the time.

It's offensive, but the Dems and their allies are rowdy in Kansas. They're fresh off a report that Hilary Clinton is polling 10 points ahead of Trump in the Third District, the race between some cocktail party Teamster and Congressman Kevin Yoder is within the margin of error, the Teamsters dropped 1,000 signs for one candidate in a state Senate race, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved $1 million in television advertising spots in the Kansas City market. The Dems are taking Kansas races seriously, and we need to do the same.

No matter your feelings about the candidate at the very top of the ticket in 2016, you need to rally your like-minded friends and neighbors to the polls on Nov. 8. There's much more at stake down ballot.

Stick a political sign in your yard. Decorate your car with some Republican candidate bumper stickers, post your support for good candidates on social media. Perhaps most importantly, if you have extra time or a few extra dollars to spare between now and Nov. 8, give it to a good candidate. That may mean walking neighborhoods and knocking doors, or giving $10 online to a good candidate.

It's crunch time, and the Dems are energized. We need to match their enthusiasm in whatever ways we can.


I need to correct a few things. 

In a post on about JCRP races for leadership, I wrote that the elections for party county chair seemed early this year. They are only slightly early. I thought these elections occurred after the general election in the past, but several folks have reported that's not accurate. 

Though this year's election for party leadership in JoCo is a little earlier than usual due to the slightly later timing of the general election and Thanksgiving, it's not much earlier than usual!

Second, I hosted the Ashby Show on Oct. 13. I said that businesses are appraised differently than residential properties. That was inaccurate. Commercial property is assessed differently--not appraised differently. 

I regret the errors. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Contested Race for JCRP Leadership

Johnson County Republicans will elect leadership next week. Precinct committeemen and women will select a chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer. These county party leaders are elected every 2 years. Like everything in 2016, this race will be interesting.

First, it's taking place much earlier than normal. Typically, Johnson County Republicans gather in January -- a few months AFTER a presidential election--to elect leadership. In early September, we learned the county party would host its election in 2016 on Oct. 20. 

The change in schedule was surprising. I never heard for certain why the change was made, however, it may have been to head off competition in the leadership race. There may be some Republicans who lose their elections for state legislature. Some of those candidates could decide to run for party leadership in that event could creating division in the Republican ranks. 

It looks like there's going to be a divide anyway. Two slates of candidates for leadership have announced their intentions to lead the county party. I'll call one slate the southwest slate and the other slate the northeast slate.

Team Southwest:

Mike Jones for JCRP Chair
Robyn Essex for Vice Chair
Diane Macheers for Secretary
Craig Campbell for Treasurer

Team Northeast:

Mike Kuckelman for JCRP Chair
Laura McConwell for Vice Chair
Theresa Segraves for Secretary
Steven Wiebler for Treasurer

There were rumors back in April that several people were quietly crafting a slate of candidates. I heard at the time that members (or surrogates) of both slates were involved in those discussions. Supposedly, there was an understanding of sorts reached in which one group would run to lead JCRP and the other would run to lead the Third District. 

Did negotiations break down? Were the rumors back in April of such a discussion false? I can't say. I can say that there are now two slates who have launched campaigns to lead Johnson County (and there's a rumored third slate brewing).

There's nothing wrong with a little family discussion, but I have a feeling this could get ugly. And here's where a Johnson County Republican Party tradition could be laid to rest, alleviating some of the bloodletting sure to come from this competitive power struggle.

In the leadership election, precinct committee people will first be asked to vote for chair. To be elected, the candidate must receive a majority--not a plurality--of votes. If there are three candidates, and none receive more than 50 percent of the vote, then the field will be narrowed and committee people will vote again. This will continue until one candidate for chair receives more than 50 percent of the votes.

This is where things get wonky. Traditionally, the vice chair candidate on the losing chairs' slates will step aside and the remainder of the chair-elect's slate will be elected by acclimation. 

I don't know why this tradition occurs. I guess it's a nod to unity, but it seems a mixed group of candidates who can work together despite being on opposite slates would be better for unity. I hope every candidate down the line of each slate bucks tradition this time. This hope is in vain and will likely be controversial. Republicans love our traditions. It's our thing.

The race between these two slates will be tight for a number of reasons. Team Southwest started early. They've been working on this effort for several months, if not an entire year. They've been attending every Republican meeting in the county for months now. That said, precinct people, who will be the voters in the leadership election, were elected during the June primary. Despite the efforts of Team Southwest, fewer precinct people filed to run in that election than have in the past half dozen years. That could pose a problem as I think part of Team Southwest's strategy was to stack the precinct positions with supporters. Time will tell if they were successful.

Though Team Northeast got a late start, two members of its slate are currently in JCRP leadership positions. Segraves is the current chair. She was vice chair and replaced Ronnie Metsker when he was appointed JoCo Election Commissioner. Kuckleman is treasurer. In the event of empty precinct positions, of which there are typically several, the chair gets to appoint precinct people. (There's a cut-off for when people can be appointed, and that is past, I believe.) 

This weekend, we got a real lesson in just how important these party leadership positions can be. These surrogates for the Republican Party are often asked to speak publicly on candidates and politics. Equally as important, party leadership is tasked with fundraising, and in JoCo, I hope the goal is to keep the doors open in the party office. That space has served as a home base that allowed Republicans of different stripes and different neighborhoods to work together in comfortable and neutral space. 

Finally, there's another party leadership role to be considered soon. Republicans will elect a chair of the Kansas Third Congressional District at some point in the near future. I don't think a date has yet been set. There's at least one candidate rumored to be interested in becoming district chair. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dems Release Sham Poll

I don't want to sound like a Pollyanna, but I'm just not buying a Dem poll out today suggesting that Hilary Clinton is 10 points ahead in Kansas. (You shouldn't buy this either.)

The poll also suggests that a Mission Hills guy who somehow has been operating as an unlicensed and unregistered investment adviser is within the margin of error against Congressman Kevin Yoder.

This cycle is exceedingly weird. Polls in Wisconsin suggest that Donald Trump supporters there refuse to support Sen. Ron Johnson--a Republican incumbent--because he's not supportive of Trump enough. Huh? 

The down ballot races have never been more important than they are this cycle, precisely because the players at the top of the ticket are... well, likely one-termers. One is corrupt and a liar. The other is a gamble. 

Voters need to hedge their bets against the next administration, and that means electing the most conservative Congress possible. This means Yoder must be re-elected. For the most part, he's represented us admirably. Sen. Jerry Moran must be re-elected. We will need these men to hold steady in the face of uncertainty--or absolute corruption if it comes to that.

Fortunately, I think this is just another piffle-paffle poll, designed to shore up Democrat donors. The pollsters work for the Clinton campaign, and have a history of using small and heavily manipulated samples. Kansas is about as red of a state as you can get. The Third District is 19 points in the Republican's favor. Still, this poll shows that Kansas conservatives cannot be complacent this election. I'm not buying this ridiculous poll, but both candidates need your votes on Nov. 8.