Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Surprise Guest at Olathe Republican Party Picnic

Several lawmakers failed to make appearances at the Olathe Republican Party picnic, but there was one surprise attendee. (The missing included quite a few Olathe Republican state legislators. What could have kept them away? I wonder.)




*Cough* 

Anyway, there were a few unusual guests at the annual picnic: the media, who apparently is just following Kris Kobach around seeking protesters and/or Kobach gaffes. Neither put in an appearance. 

Another unusual guest? Ken Rahjes. Rahjes represents the 110th district in the Kansas House. He lives in Agra, Kansas, a long, long way from Olathe for those keeping count. Mapquest tells me it's about a 4.5-hour drive.

In 2015, Precinct committee men and women in the 110th district selected Rahjes to replace Travis Couture-Lovelady, famed-hatmaker/legislator-turned-NRA-lobbyist. 

At the time, Rahjes was considered the less-conservative of three candidates. He was elected to retain the seat in 2016, and his voting record is fairly conservative. For some baffling reason, he voted for the initial retroactive tax bill back in February, before reversing course and voting against the eventual tax increase that Brownback vetoed. He also voted against overriding the Governor's veto. (As an aside, his son worked for the Roger Marshall campaign. Ask me about that time the boys from the Marshall campaign beat me with their snobbery at a Yoder campaign event last fall. But that's all beside the point of this writing.)

So... what was a western Kansas pol doing at an Olathe Republican Party event? Clearly, planning to run for something. What? I don't know. I asked. He didn't answer. I'll just say, I'd play poker with that guy any day of the week.





Thursday, June 22, 2017

Olathe Republican Party Picnic This Weekend

Prepare for so many boat shoes. Sigh.

The Olathe Republican Party Picnic kicks off this weekend. Hundreds of Republicans will descend on Cedar Lake, and far too many of them will be wearing boat shoes.

Because half of the world has already declared an intent to seek the Republican Party nomination for Governor in 2018, it should be an interesting affair. Candidates Wink Hartman and Kris Kobach will likely put in appearances. I highly doubt Jim Barnett and Ed O'Malley--the guys campaigning kind of like Democrats in the race attend. Olathe is an extremely conservative town and the Olathe Republican Party reflects that bent. Ed and Jim would be virtual aliens among the crowd. It will be fascinating to see which legislators show up. I anticipate a chilly reception for those who voted for that monstrous tax increase (complete with new spending and a busted budget by year 3!!)

At least one legislator, Keith Esau, is expected to announce his candidacy for Secretary of State. I'm told he won't be the only one making surprise announcements. (If I knew what the other announcements would be, I'd tell you.)

The Olathe Republican Party was one of the first things I blogged about when I started this little project. Here's what I wrote back in 2012:

Almost everyone there will be involved in a campaign for one or more candidates and everyone will be throwing around titles. Introductions will include full resumes. "Hi, I'm the (volunteer coordinator/communications director/campaign manager/candidate) for candidate X.I graduated cumma sum laude from University Y. I am the former city council member from Z and served on the Governor's Committee for a Better America. Stop by my booth/wear my sticker/take a yard sign."
Not much has changed, though the location is different. Because it's not an election year, some elected officials are skipping out. I hear Congressman Yoder is taking a pass as is Sen. Jerry Moran. (I'm sure Sen. Roberts has attended in the past--probably back when he was in his 40s, so... awhile ago. I don't anticipate seeing him tomorrow.)

As usual, most of the people who attend will be weirdos. Sorry friends. I'm including myself in that mix. Regular voters-- people who don't spend good parts of every day thinking about political stuff--are unlikely to be there. And since Yoder and Moran are skipping the event, we can hope that the protesting hippies in genital hats will skip, too.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Justice Department Vetting Kansans for Trump Appointments

Most of the buzz in Kansas is about a potential Gov. Brownback appointment. However, Brownback isn't the only Kansan being vetted for a potential presidential appointment. (BTW, sources tell me the background investigation into the Governor for potential appointment as the Ambassador for Religious Freedom is complete.)

Meanwhile, investigators are parsing through the background of Stephen McAllister, a University of Kansas law dean. Others discussed and scrapped for the position of U.S. Attorney (for this district) include former state Sens. Jeff King and Terry Bruce as well as an assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi.

On paper, McAllister appears to have most of the credentials necessary to serve in the role. He has Republican street cred--having served as a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice. They are Presidential political appointees, and many are appointed based on the recommendation of U.S. Senators (and other politicians) from those states.  U.S. Attorneys are part of the U.S. Justice Department and are responsible for prosecuting federal cases--many of them criminal. McAllister's criminal law experience seems light.

However, that's not the biggest challenge for the law professor-possibly turned-political climber. McAllister has a bit of a gray ethics history, if a newsletter KU law students once published is to be believed.

The newsletter theorized that McAllister hired his girlfriend--now wife--for a part time job at the university and gave her full time pay. This was years ago, and McAllister swung back hard at the allegations of public corruption.

He told the Lawrence Journal-World in 2004 that the students spread "extraordinary lies" about him and his wife. 

"The maturity level this sort of behavior represents is more typical of a high school, or perhaps even a junior high school, than a graduate level professional school that aspires to be one of the top 25 law schools," he told the paper.

Oddly, the Journal-World didn't actually list the students' accusations or quote from the newsletter. 

Having people above reproach serving as U.S. Attorneys in the Justice Department has never been more important. There are questions about how Loretta Lynch ran the department, and obviously you can't throw an elbow without hearing about former FBI Director James Comey. (The FBI is the investigative arm of the Justice Department.)

The good news is if there is indeed questionable conduct in McAllister's past, the vetting process, which involves the FBI, should shake out any potential gray areas. Time will tell.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mainstream Coalition Thinks the Middle Is the Far Left

If you were to place the members of the Kansas Legislature on a spectrum from the political left to the political right, House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, would likely be on the far left. 

So it was refreshing to see the Mainstream Coalition flaunting its leftist ways. The organization says its members work to take "Kansas back from extremists and their ideologies." Apparently, in the Mainstream Coalition world, political extremists only come from the right.

So yesterday, the "Mainstreamers" gathered to spread their special brand of nonsense. (I believe it's something about how Christians should just shut up about their faith. School children should pledge their allegiance to fighting climate change, and Kansans should just hand over their wallets.) Anyway, they gathered.


Mainstream Coalition members gather.


And they took pictures, so regular Kansans could get a feel for exactly which side of the political spectrum the "mainstreamers" think is mainstream.

That would be Jim Ward, who posted several photos to his campaign Facebook page. The photos reveal several so-called Republicans (and liberal lobbyists) essentially campaigning with the Democratic Minority Leader of the Kansas House.

It's important to note that America is a center-right nation. Gallup says so about once per year. Other than the Presidency, Democrats have been losing Governships, statehouses, and Congressional seats for a few decades. So those folks who think the middle falls over to the far left by Jim Ward are laboring under a misconception. 

It wasn't all that surprising to see Sen. Barbara Bollier or Rep. Melissa Rooker gathering with Ward and Democrat Brett Parker. Bollier and Rooker's constituents know that they vote more often with the Democrats than the Republicans. It was, however, stunning to see Reps. Tom Cox, Patty Markley, Joy Koesten and Sen. Dinah Sykes. I'm fairly certain their districts didn't realize they were voting for leftists.

Thanks to Ward, though, voters now have photographic evidence of their Republican representatives campaigning with Democrats (and a taxpayer funded school lobbyist.)

The Republicans who attended this Democratic campaign event have the good graces to be a little embarrassed. Their (Democratic) allies are melting down over the fact that anyone would mention the fact that they campaigned with Democrats. The optics on this one are terrible, and the campaign literature almost writes itself.

So thank you, those who photographed the event. Actual Republicans owe you one. 


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Why the Bad Kansas Budget and Tax Votes Are So Diabolical

I've been working my hardest to work up a healthy dose of forgiveness and understanding for those who voted to take an extra $600 out of the pockets of the average Kansas family to feed a bloated government, but I'm having trouble. 

It's not the $600. I mean, sure, that hurts. I am working hard to save for my own retirement--without the help of anyone "matching" my contributions or handing me a pension. I have been busting my behind to put money in savings, because I know the tax man is going to absolutely cripple me next year as an independent contractor. But, because I am fiscally responsible, I should weather the extra $600 with only minor damage.



The biggest beef I have with those supposed conservatives who voted for the tax increase and a bloated budget (to give their lobbyist friends favors, no less!!) is that they didn't damage only MY pocketbook and the finances of their friends and neighbors in Kansas. The damage is nationwide.

By acquiescing to the demands of a massive tax increase while ADDING new spending to the budget, these squishes damaged the very core of conservatism--the idea that small, efficient government provides more opportunities and more liberty for all. History and economics tell us this is true, no matter what the mainstream media reports. Liberty lovers and conservatives ARE fighting a battle against a fully socialized U.S., and the people who voted for this tax bill and the budget that increases spending basically picked up their weapons to fight against us. 

There's no excuse, but I'm happy to recount a few of the excuses so-called Republicans are using to explain their votes:

Several say Gov. Sam Brownback refused to sign any legislation that could pass with 63 votes--the number necessary to pass legislation in the House. Of course, this is hearsay on the part of "conservatives" now saddled with ugly, ugly votes on their records. Voting for that nonsense was "governing." 

We don't really know what Brownback would sign or allow to become law. Rumor has it, House negotiators floated several plans to the Governor that he said he would sign and that would reach the 63-vote threshold. Word on the street is that the Governor then changed his mind and told negotiators he wouldn't vote for it. What are these so-called plans? Who knows. These supposed plans were shrouded in darkness, never to see the light of day.

House leadership could have called Brownback's bluff--if, in fact, such a thing occurred. Voters will never know, because the House never voted on those items or spoke about them publicly. And now, those bad voters have the gall to be irritated that many grassroots people just aren't buying their story. It's odd that every liberal suggestion--like voting on schools and taxes before voting on budget--didn't just make it to the floor, but became reality. 

There are legislators saying they cast to override the Governor's veto as a favor to leadership. They should be embarrassed that they're saying such things out loud. It's shameful. Peer pressure may be a halfway reasonable excuse for 12-year-olds, but it's gross on adults. These votes for further bloating the state budget and for saddling Kansans with higher taxes retroactively were votes that should have been based on principle. The people who voted in favor of the tax and budget plan clearly lack principle in favor of small government and personal liberty. 

Plenty of legislators are also saying voters sent them to Topeka to provide a structural fix for the budget. The problem here is that this budget and tax plan don't do that. We're getting a retroactive tax increase and for what? A pittance of the new spending will go to schools--I'm not advocating that it should be more, but a whole lot of people campaigned on puffing up school budgets. Even worse, all of the one-time fixes that these turn coats blasted will continue with this budget and tax plan. You're paying $600 more, average Kansas family, and guess what? The budget STILL defers payments to KPERS and "robs" the Kansas Department of Transportation. 

Still another handful of legislators who voted for this train wreck did so because they have higher political aspirations, and in their twisted minds, this vote to punish taxpayers and appease the KNEA, corporate lobbyists, and the Kansas Contractor's Association, was "leadership." I almost feel sorry for those folks, because the Leftist, Socialists they worked so hard to appease will never support them long term. When those so-called Republicans reach for the next rung on the political ladder--whatever that may be--the Republican base will turn their backs, and it's laughable to believe the Leftists will hop on board. (And there aren't enough independents or "moderates" to pull off a statewide election. See Greg Orman, circa 2014, and that's DESPITE the Democrat leaving the field. There also aren't enough "moderates" or Dems in an election for most Congressional seats--one of which Kansas will likely lose in 2022, thanks in part, to this tax and budget plan.) 

And a special personal note for the politically ambitious: The fight for small and limited government and freedom is bigger than you. Whether you somehow successfully manage to overcome that awful vote and find higher office, no one is going to remember your name when you're long gone. They will, however, have to live with the damage your bad votes created. This budget and tax fight was NEVER about you personally, and in those quiet moments when you think it might be, stop it. The fight for freedom is bigger than you.

It's right and just for conservatives to feel absolutely duped by a lot of our legislators. The good news is grassroots people are working even today to find good candidates to challenge every candidate who voted for that bloated budget and punitive tax plan. Word on the street is even those legislators who once boasted high freedom index scores won't be absolved for their part in this back stabbery to the base. 

The better news is that when those primary and general elections roll around, taxpayers will have been noticeably hit with tax increases three times leading up to the next election. Taxpayers will notice their paychecks are smaller after July 1. They'll be hit again come January 1, 2018, when an even higher tax rate takes effect. They'll be hit a third time when it's time to pay their taxes next April. The retroactive nature of the tax increase, means employers have been withholding less than necessary for the first six months of this year. A whole lot of taxpayers are going to have to write a check to the state of Kansas next year. Some won't have the money to write that check. It will be a public relations nightmare for anyone saddled with those votes. 







Monday, June 12, 2017

Will Merrick Run?

Now that Kansas legislators stuck a knife in the back of Kansas families, it appears at least one conservative stalwart may be lacing up his running shoes to right the ship.

Former Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick told a crowd at the grand opening of the Johnson County Republican Party headquarters that he hasn't ruled out returning to the Kansas House.

Merrick didn't seek re-election in 2016, and today, the 27th District is represented by Sean Tarwater. Tarwater's voting record is significantly more liberal than his district. His predecessors, Merrick, former Reps. Jeff Colyer, and Charlotte O'Hara, are significantly to the right of Tarwater.

In Tarwater's first month in office, he voted for a retroactive tax increase. He voted to override the Governor's veto of that tax increase, and he voted for the enormous $1.2 billion tax increase that will cost the average Kansas family an extra $600 per year. Despite the tax increase, the budget will be busted in two years, because Tarwater (and others) voted to balloon spending along with the tax hike.

Voters in the 27th District are likely anxious to find a representative that more accurately reflects their positions on small government and fiscal responsibility. Merrick, it appears, may answer that call.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Fly in the Kansas Political Ointment

Sen. Pat Roberts is going to run again for U.S. Senate. Sigh. I hold out almost zero hope that Roberts will hang up his hat and ride into the Kansas sunset. 

I don't want to belabor this point too long, but I like Sen. Roberts for the most part. What I don't like is a ruling class that plays by different rules than the rest of us. And that's the sort of thing you get when you have people who run for Congress, move to Washington, and stay there for longer than I've been alive. 

However, the writing is on the wall: The indications that Roberts plans to run AGAIN are everywhere. 

Exhibit A: As I reported several months ago, Roberts purchased a house in Topeka. If you'll recall, a major campaign issue in 2014 was the Roberts La-Z Boy Scandal. You'll recall his opponent made a lot of hay out of the fact that Roberts didn't actually live in Dodge City, but rented a recliner from a friend when he was in town. Head desk. (Seriously, out here in the place where Kansans actually live, renting a recliner and pretending to "reside" in Kansas was total amateur hour. That dog wasn't going to hunt for very long if anyone ever decided to make an issue of it.) 

I haven't heard yet whether he's moved any recliners to the new Roberts' house, but I have a hard time believing he plans to retire in the Kansas Capital City.

Exhibit B: I keep hearing whispers that Roberts is quietly supporting Secretary of State Kris Kobach's run for Governor. Now, why would the Roberts' team be quietly intimating that they're all-in for a Kobach run? I'll explain: Almost no one in Kansas has the nerve to challenge Roberts in a Republican primary. As the current Don of the Kansas GOP, most name brand Republicans aren't going to risk having a horse head in their beds by running against Roberts in a tight race. There's also a school of thought that says Roberts can't lose, because he's chair of the ag committee, and it's difficult for me to gauge just how much the Big First is willing to overlook for a Senator sitting in that position.  I think a name brand Republican could beat Roberts, but the only one with the stones to chance it is Kobach. (There are a lot of Republicans who think Kobach is probably lying awake nights kicking himself for staying out of the 2014 Republican primary for U.S. Senate.) 

Roberts acknowledging that he plans to run in 2020 is rippling throughout the 2018 race. Those rumors about Congressman Kevin Yoder potentially running for Governor are precisely because it appears the 2020 race for Senate is over before it starts. (Yoder isn't going to run for Governor, but he was considering it, and getting that short guy at the KC Star to write a glowing column about the possibility to test the waters.)

With Yoder likely out of the Governor's race (and Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins bowing out for love or whatever), word on the street is that Roberts is quietly encouraging Kobach to run for the Kansas executive position. Kobach and Roberts are odd bedfellows, but if Kobach manages to win the Governor's race, Roberts has effectively cleared his own field. For what it's worth, the Republican primary to date already includes Wink Hartman, a Wichita business man. Some guy from Prairie Village whose name I can't remember is having a series of exploratory town hall meetings to see if he should run. So... that guy's running.

While we're on the topic, the DailyKos says Independent  Democrat Greg Orman will run as an independent for Kansas Governor. This means whichever Republican manages to win the Gubernatorial primary will be the next Governor. When Orman announces, someone from the Kansas GOP ought to send him a thank you note.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Capitol Shenanigans

Congratulations, Kansans! You may be getting a walloping tax increase come tomorrow. 

I'm just going to run down the rumors in advance so everyone gets a warm fuzzy about the heinous deals being closed behind closed doors.

Word on the street is that Senate President Susan Wagle is in a mad dash to find two votes for whatever nauseating tax increase manages to reach the Senate floor. 

Rumor suggests it will STILL be a retroactive tax increase phased in over two years. (So the first year is slightly LESS of an increase, because it's a real jerk head Jones move to surprise people halfway through the year with a tax increase on income they already took home and spent on pizzas and utility bills. If they spent any of it on luxury items--like movie tickets, restaurants, or vacations--they should be ashamed. The CHILDREN need that money.) 

Most people believe Wagle is still one vote short of the votes necessary to get that pile of regurgitation around the Governor's veto pen. 

So, savvy voters, watch for flip-floppers--those people who voted against overriding the Governor's veto last go around who are now suddenly on board with an increase. Someone promised those folks something. My guess is coveted seats on conference committees. Apparently, some conference committee appointments changed today.

Sources tell me Wagle is still one vote short, but that's assuming she votes against a massive tax increase. She's all but announced her intention to run against Congressman Ron Estes in 2018. That's the most conservative district in the state, and I'm positive the people there would not take kindly to a candidate who voted to heap new taxes on everyone who earns more than $30K.

No one knows how the new guy, Richard Hilderbrand, will vote. He replaces Senator-turned-state-treasurer Jake LaTurner. LaTurner was a solid vote to uphold Gov. Brownback vetoes, and Hilderbrand was his chosen replacement. 

Sen. Denning will vote with the herd this time, though he voted against overriding the Governor's veto last time. Sources also say Richard Wilborn of McPherson will flip. I am curious what he was promised in exchange for selling Kansas down the river. If anyone hears, let me in on the secret!

Meanwhile over in the House, newbies are telling people they recognize voting for a huge tax increase probably means they won't get re-elected. This is true in most cases. No one with any sense, morals, or principles campaigns on raising taxes on the poorest among us, but that's what is likely to happen.

The truly disturbing and baffling thing is I'm hearing VERY little in the way of actual details. I hear there will be a third tax bracket on top of the two existing brackets. I'm hearing retroactively. What I'm not hearing? Actual numbers. So a whole bunch of people are dead set on raising your taxes no matter what the numbers say. They are disgusting, and their primary base of support are people wearing inappropriate costumes of human organs in the streets. 











Thursday, April 20, 2017

Farewell Party for Gov. Brownback in the Works

While everyone is still quietly wondering whether Rome beckons Gov. Brownback to the east, a party at Cedar Crest is quietly in the works.

Former Brownback staffers from his days in the U.S. House and Senate are invited. Many are making plans to stop through Kansas and make an appearance. Former staffers from his first term as Governor will attend. The big event is set to occur soon at Cedar Crest, the Governor's residence.

No one is calling it a farewell party, but it certainly sounds a lot like one. If I liked to waste money betting on things, I'd place a chunk of change on the Governor stepping aside once this session is over. 

All of you legislators breathlessly awaiting his departure can speed it along by wrapping things up. As you consider that, please note that in my opinion, he's sticking around long enough to make sure you don't ruin everything. So, make some decent decisions to wrap up the session and you will likely find yourselves starting anew with a fresh face behind the veto pen.




Monday, April 10, 2017

Hug a Democrat Today and Tomorrow

Kansas Republicans are lucky, because the Kansas Democratic Party is pretty much incompetent. This bodes well for the special election to replace CIA Director Mike Pompeo in the U.S. Congress. Thank goodness. 

Without the help of a severely wounded Democratic Party, there's a real risk Republicans could lose the Fourth Congressional District. So hug a Democrat today, and thank them.

Here's the quick state of the race down in Wichita between a guy who spent $250 of campaign money on a razor # 2 haircut (ahem. James Thompson) and Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes:

1. It looked really, really bad until late last week. As of close of business on Thursday, April 6, Democrats had a 464 lead in advanced ballot requests. That was trending in the right direction at the close of last week, but there's no excuse for a gap in the left direction.

2. At close of day on April 6, Democrats had a three ballot lead in advanced ballots returned. 

3. While polls made public look good for the Estes campaign, every poll I've seen printed shows the Estes campaign moving in the wrong direction. Those polls still show a sizable Estes lead, but that lead continues to shrink. And let's chat a second about undisclosed polls: One such undisclosed poll (from a few weeks ago) showed Estes has only a 1 percent lead among likely voters who could name the day of the special election! 

THE ELECTION IS APRIL 11, FYI.

3. The lone bright spot for Republicans in this messy election is registered Republican advanced in-person voters out-voted Democrats by more than 1,300 as of April 6. 

That cushion isn't enough for me to feel comfortable, and it appears Democrats smell blood in the water. Their base is clearly a LOT more energized than ours, and in a special election, that could be the difference. Fortunately, the Democrats seem incapable of capitalizing on that advantage.

The Dems' troubles started the second Democratic delegates selected James A. Thompson as their standard bearer. Thompson hails from the Bernie segment of the party, also known as the socialist wing. Dems had other options. I was actually afraid of Dennis McKinney, a former state treasurer who is pro-life. (Wichita is perhaps the most pro-life part of a very pro-life state.) But party insiders voted for the Bernie guy who was instantly and loudly endorsed by Planned Parenthood. (These are the same folks disrupting town halls across the nation, screaming and wearing genital costumes on their heads, so you know, kind of not Kansas-like at all, so...)

And then Dems began campaigning. So far, it appears their campaign efforts involve attending every forum hosted by the League of Women voters and other leftist organizations and then complaining that Estes didn't show up, vandalizing signs, and vandalizing the Estes campaign office. Oh, and then complaining about a commercial that factually reveals Thompson supports abortion on demand for any reason.

The state party and the Thompson campaign publicly exchanged barbs after the Kansas Democratic Party refused to give the campaign $20,000. The state party admitted it didn't have the money! They said that out loud! 

It's odd that the Thompson campaign requested $20,000 for mailers rather than the party sending mailers on behalf of the campaign. It costs less for the party to mail than it does for the campaign. So strange. 

And I just want to reiterate, this is a campaign that spent $250 on a haircut. (I don't even... for context, I have unusual hair. I get it colored, cut, and styled every six weeks at a mid-priced salon. I pay $120. That's with tip!! Sometimes I add on the $40 blow dry. If someone charged Thompson $40 for a blow out, he should demand a refund. It's ridiculous, and it gives a great indication of how careful the candidate is with other people's money!! When your advertising dollars are in short supply, you don't blow a few hundies on a haircut! How frivolous.)

Meanwhile, the national Democratic party is sitting on the sidelines. 

Estes is likely to win this race, but it isn't because the Republicans ran a great campaign. I'm watching from other end of the state, so caveat emptor. From here, it looks a bit dismal. Trump won the Fourth Congressional District by 27 points. It is the most conservative district in red Kansas by a long, long way. And for that reason, I think Estes pulls it out. However, unless he can snatch a double-digit victory from the jaws of defeat, he's looking at a nasty, virulent primary in 2018. He'll have to campaign better next time, or his Congressional efforts will be short-lived.

Estes was always going to face a primary in 2018, but without a big win tomorrow, he'll face a crowded and vicious one. The only person I hear running in 2018 is Susan Wagle. I put her chances at success at near zero percent, but she won't be alone in that race. Starting April 12, Estes should watch his back.

When Estes pulls out this win tomorrow, we probably ought to thank Democrats for being so inept. This was theirs to lose, and it appears they'll do just that. Thanks!












Monday, April 3, 2017

Rep. Fred Patton Needs Your Help

Rep. Fred Patton is under fire as a wobbly squish. The good news is you can help the Topeka legislator find his backbone. 

Patton went a bit wobbly this weekend, telling people at a forum that he was torn on his votes against Medicaid expansion. (If the people at that forum were anything like the people who attended a forum I went to this weekend, the event mirrored a hippie drum circle--only instead of going shirtless, the attendees wore hats that are supposed to look like genitals and carried giant Planned Parenthood signs.)

Of course, that sort of aggressive protesting masquerading as constituent outrage can be persuasive, so Patton needs to hear from the level-headed folks prior to a House veto override vote on expansion. That may come as early as today.

Lobbyists tell me that if Patton becomes the tie-breaker in the House--which he has set himself up to become (bafflingly)--he'll vote to override Brownback's veto.

Here's some information to use in your emails and calls to Patton's office. 

First--Kansas can't afford to expand Medicaid. Of the 31 states to expand, guess how many spent more than projected on the expansion? If you guessed EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, you're correct. In fact, the average overrun in the 31 expansion states was 110 percent. It's laughable to think Kansas will somehow be different.

Second--the Kansas Republican Party platform specifically opposes Medicaid expansion in Kansas and any efforts to expand Obamacare nationwide. Many make the argument that Republicans control the U.S. House, Senate, and Presidency specifically because of the disaster known as Obamacare. Patton is a Republican, and Republican voters have a right to expect him to act like one.

Finally, many are reporting that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis won Patton's district in 2014. They're leaving out a pretty significant part of that story: Guess which candidate won Patton's county in the 2016 Presidential election? That would be President Donald Trump by more than 2,000 votes. Even more telling, the third party candidate to receive the most votes in that district was Gary Johnson--the libertarian candidate. Johnson earned 3,400 votes to Jill Stein's--the leftist near socialist candidate-1,700 votes. This tells any thinking person that Patton's district skews right in ways the mainstream media would rather not report.

Either way, Patton needs to hear from the reasonable adults in the room. Please reach out today as this vote could happen soon.

So, friends, give him a call and tell him the silent majority (and the party Patton says he belongs to) supports fiscal responsibility and small government.

Here's his phone number and email address:

(785)296-7460
fred@fredpatton.com

I also recommend a few well-timed, but polite, tweets to @FredPattonKS. Don't forget the hashtag: #ksleg


Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Myth That Voters Rewarded anti-Brownbackers in 2016

This legislative session stinks like a rotting animal in the desert. There are a lot of buzzards hanging on cheering the possibility of making economic carcasses of Kansas businesses and Kansas taxpayers through enormous tax increases, new regulations, and bloated government.

One challenge is lack of leadership. In the Senate, you have a Senate President who has largely abdicated almost all responsibility to a Senate Majority Leader. In the House, you have leadership on the wrong end of important votes, and leadership of both chambers quietly begged the Governor to allow that last tax abomination to become law. 

Meanwhile, you have a bunch of newbies who actually believe they're reflecting their districts by advocating and voting for massive tax increases and new spending at every turn. Some of those newbies are correct, but a whole lot of them are falling for a common misconception: The idea that simply being anti-Brownback is the key to winning future elections.

Allow me to dispel that myth once and for all. Here is a tale of two Senate candidates in Johnson County. 

You'll recall Johnson County was ground zero for candidates who were for the Governor's tax plan in 2012 before they were against it. So--let's compare two very similar districts and two Republican candidates who won campaigning on very different platforms.

In one corner, we have Sen. Jim Denning. In the other, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook. Denning lives in Overland Park. Pilcher-Cook lives in Shawnee. Their districts are very similar.

In Denning's district, 47 percent of voters are registered Republicans and 23 percent are registered Democrats. In Pilcher-Cook's, 43 percent of voters are Republicans, and 25 percent are registered Dems. Though their districts are very similar, Denning enjoyed a slight numbers advantage on paper.

Denning also enjoyed an advantage in terms of his opponent. He faced Democrat Don McGuire. Pilcher-Cook faced Democrat Vicki Hiatt. McGuire raised $20,000 during his campaign to Denning's $160,000. Hiatt raised $60,000 to Pilcher-Cook's $100,000. Advantage: Denning.

Denning and Pilcher-Cook narrowly won re-election. Denning beat McGuire 52.7 percent to 47.2 percent. Pilcher-Cook defeated Hiatt 51.5 percent to 48.6 percent. 

The major difference between Denning and Pilcher-Cook's races was in how they campaigned. Both boasted similar voting records. They voted against the 2015 sales tax increase, supported block grant funding, and oppose Medicaid expansion.

They campaigned differently on a few things, however. Mary Pilcher-Cook voted against that education funding bill that came out of the special session last summer. Denning voted for it. 

Though Denning voted to implement the LLC-tax incentive in 2012, he is now its most vocal opponent. He campaigned heavily in favor of revoking the tax incentive. He campaigned as an anti-Brownback Republican. Pilcher-Cook campaigned in favor of maintaining the tax incentive and as a Brownback Republican.

Denning won by 1.2 percent more than Pilcher-Cook, and that was despite the fact Pilcher-Cook faced a better-funded opponent and much more engaged opposition. 

Though this tome is written about two Senate races, I primarily write this as a warning to supposedly Republican House members. Working to increase taxes isn't likely to be a winner come the 2018 election. In fact, it wasn't as much of a winner as many newbie House members probably believe it was.

I say this based on Presidential Voting Indexes (PVI) in House districts in 2016. PVI is a score based on how red or blue a district is. 

In districts where an incumbent Republican who supported the LLC-exemption lost, the PVI was 5.96. In districts where the Republican incumbent who campaigned for revoking the exemption lost, the PVI was 8.95.

All this is to say that more conservative districts didn't save incumbents who flipped on the LLC tax. 

The 2016 election marked an anti-incumbent wave. The LLC-exemption was but a side show. The results of the 2016 Republican primaries and in many cases, general elections marked an over-correction. 

There are an awful lot of Republican newbies who probably shouldn't get too comfortable in their Statehouse offices. Republican primary and general election voters are going to see videos like the one below--of people cheering for a tax increase--and feel disgusted. No one campaigned on raising taxes on low and middle income families. 





Those who are most vulnerable include Sean Tarwater, Shelee Brim, Anita Judd-Jenkins and Roger Elliott. Their districts are far more conservative than their collective voting records. 






Kobach Will Run for Governor

Secretary of State Kris Kobach will announce his candidacy for Governor in upcoming weeks. 

Word on the street is Kobach was weighing potential opportunities within the Trump administration, but the Secretary has reached a decision. He will throw his hat into the ring for Kansas Governor in 2018.

Kobach is likely to enter a crowded Republican primary. 



Wichita businessman Wink Hartman announced his candidacy several weeks ago. Ed O'Malley--some guy from somewhere who once did something--is on a listening tour. O'Malley created an exploratory committee several months ago, though he hasn't officially announced his intentions. 

Meanwhile, I think we can call this slobbery, cheerleading Steve Kraske column evidence that Congressman Kevin Yoder is eyeballing the race. (BTW, that column was so CLEARLY a plant by the Yoder team. Nice get guys, but kind of transparent.) 

Others rumored to be considering runs on the Republican side: Senate President Susan Wagle will run if she can ram through the legislation that makes campaign accounts portable. Garrett Love will be her running mate. I think I've said this before, but I'll say it once more: I don't know how anyone wins a statewide election after systematically stabbing every possible constituency in the back. Mods call her a conservative. Conservatives believe otherwise. I don't know how you win a Kansas Republican primary in that situation, but hope springs eternal. 

Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer may be running as an incumbent if and when Gov. Brownback departs for Rome. My sources tell me an announcement about the Governor's plans are premature. I think that means Brownback leaves, and the only thing being negotiated at this point is the timing. If I had to guess, Brownback wants to stay until the end of this session.

I still think there's a chance that Colyer could end up working for the Trump administration in some capacity, and I think there's a slim possibility he could choose to run for the Third District seat should Yoder decide to run for Governor. Colyer will really show his hand if and when he chooses a Lt. Governor to replace himself. If he chooses someone like Tim Shallenburger, a seasoned politician, we can infer Colyer isn't going to run for Governor. Shallenburger currently serves as Brownback's legislative director. He unsuccessfully ran against Kathleen Sebelius and lost, probably because of that mustache. If Colyer chooses someone with political capital from the Big First Congressional District, he's running for Governor.

On the Democratic side, former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is running for Governor. There may be others who run. Paul Davis, the former gubernatorial candidate, is rumored to be considering a run. 

The Democratic bench is pretty shallow, but that doesn't mean the winner of the Republican gubernatorial primary isn't in for a tough fight. The Dems will throw everything at the top of the ticket, and history suggests Kansas voters are a squishy lot. 




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Where Are the Conservative Leaders?

There was once a rumor that the top leaders in the Kansas House and Senate were conservatives. I think it's safe to say most Kansans knew what we were getting with Senate President Susan Wagle: 


She appears quite content to sail the USS Kansas right into the side of an enormous tax increase --only Democratic special interests need apply for life jackets.

I expected more in the House, though. There, conservatives, with the help of some moderates, elected Ron Ryckman, Olathe, Speaker of the House. Ryckman has conservative creds, and he promised to be fair. Apparently, fair only applies to some weird brand of Democratic special interests, however. 

There's nothing fair about balancing the budget on the backs of poor and middle class Kansans, and he allowed that bill to get onto the House floor. 

Last week with nary a word of debate, a bipartisan coalition of so-called moderates and the liberal lefty Democrats rammed through the House (and a day later, the Senate) a tax increase that will be an anvil around the ankles of middle class and lower income families trying to keep their heads above water. So, thanks for that. They did this despite not even having passed a budget. This means they decided, well, no matter what, we've got to give taxpayers a pay cut. We aren't sure why. We don't know the numbers or what we need, but they definitely can't keep all that money they earned in January, February and into the future. 

The House Speaker should rarely be in the minority on a vote. Ryckman has the ability to shut down any bill in the House, and he chose not to use it. This may have been some politics behind it: Now, everyone is on record, and there's definitely some political hay to be made from that. Grassroots conservatives know for certain that we can't trust Reps. Abe Rafie, Shelee Brim, or Sean Tarwater on fiscal issues. (I think the term I'm looking for here is one-termers.) So, now we know what we're dealing with. 

Here's the enraging part about so-called House leadership: This bill is going to be vetoed, but the vote was incredibly close to a veto-proof majority. What the fiscally sane people and taxpayers need is a champion who will whip the no votes and ensure they stay that way on a veto override vote. Word on the street is that Ryckman is refusing to do that.  

If you're one of the few people who has Ryckman's ear, now might be the time to mention that conservatives will write him off for higher office --I know he's eyeballing Yoder's seat--if he can't use his leadership position to fight for fiscal sanity in Kansas. Why on Earth would anyone send him to Washington (or even back to the Speakership) if he can't lead on something as simple as sound fiscal policy in Kansas. Real leadership means you have people following you. What does it say when you're on the wrong end of a 76-48 vote and you have ultimate control over whether that vote occurs? Conservatives need someone they can follow into battle, and right now, Ryckman isn't that guy, unfortunately.


Leaders Needed

Because Ryckman refuses to go to bat for conservative values, someone else is going to need to. We can't have another moment in which the conservative selected to speak against a massive tax increase is in the bathroom when the time comes. Yes, that actually happened. When it was time to debate that tax increase monstrosity, a few conservatives in the House had a plan to offer amendments and you know, say a few words about NOT GROWING THE SIZE OF AN ALREADY BLOATED GOVERNMENT BY TAXING CITIZENS TO DEATH. When the time came, the guy who everyone agreed would say something was in the restroom.

Um, other guys and gals not in the bathroom--you, too, can step to the well and say something. Even if it's not the most polished, brilliant thing you've ever said, conservatives needed a voice in that vote. It's soul-sucking that no one stepped up to defend the taxpayers. I know you were taken by surprise at the speed everything happened, but we're going to need you to be quicker on your feet. If you need some flash cards with some generic things you can say, let me know. I'll write those up, and I'll only charge you three times what the state is going to take from my wallet come next April. Wait, does that seem awfully expensive for some note cards? Well, welcome to my world. Taxpayers send you buckets of money each year, and it sure seems like we're not getting our money's worth.)

There's a new, loose organization working on political strategy to accomplish a few things. I'm hopeful that they'll have some success, but the jury is still out. 

About That Bill

Hopefully, this loose coalition of the sane, the Truth Caucus, can help with a bit of the messaging. It's absolutely enraging that the media is running around saying this tax bill simply rolls back the LLC-exemption from 2012. 

Guys, that's a lie--a complete and total lie. It does roll back the small business tax incentive from 2012, but it also raises income taxes RETROACTIVELY on even the lowest wage earners in Kansas. In fact, the back breaking income taxes on the middle class bring in the majority of the new revenue in this bill. The small business tax incentive, or LLC-exemption, is only a small piece of the revenue. 

Congratulations, entire world. All of those people who campaigned on rolling back the LLC-exemption weren't tell the truth about their actual aims. If that were truly their imperative--to end that tax incentive--they could do it in a clean bill that simply did that. 

But that's not what this is. It's a dirty bill with all kinds of tax hikes on everyday Kansans, and liberals blanketed their lie by pretending this just rolls back the LLC-exemption. Shame on mainstream media for allowing that myth to pass as reality, and shame on any so-called conservative or Republican who tries to say that's really what this bill does. That's smoke and mirrors.

By the way, legislators have tried clean bills in the past and failed. I think it's failed four times so far in the last two years. You know who wouldn't vote for it? Dems and moderates who say it doesn't go far enough. This is politicking at its worst. If rolling back the LLC tax incentive were really the "right thing to do" and what "the people" want, they wouldn't be using it as a bargaining chip. They'd do the right thing.

LLC versus Carry Forward Loss

Here's the truly infuriating part: These (hopefully, now) one-termers campaigned on raising taxes on the rich so Kansas could pay its bills and on tax fairness. (Because being a slave to government spending is super fair to people like me.)

They argued that the LLC-tax incentive busted the budget, and that it was just giving the rich a tax break. That's not what the data suggests. Instead, much of the tax break went to individuals who earned less than $25,000 per year. These are people who were likely working side businesses--like window installation, accounting, or hair styling--and created a business on their own after 2012. That may not seem like massive hiring--which is what the libs claim--but creating your own job IS job creation.

Meanwhile, the people screaming the loudest about the LLC tax incentive never mention that the legislation would also reinstate a tax break for the actual wealthiest. It's called the carry-forward loss provision. This provision remains a part of federal tax code, and it's the tax provision that allowed President Donald Trump to avoid paying income taxes for decades.



Here's how it works: Say you have a business that lost money in 2014, you can carry forward the losses, so that your spouse's taxable income is no longer taxable, or you can carry forward the loss into future years, meaning the income you earn the following year or a few years down the road isn't taxable, because you lost money back in 2014. Typically these are wealthy people by the way. If you're a tiny business and you lost money in 2014, the business doesn't exist a few years later for you to carry forward the loss. 

When legislators crafted the LLC tax incentive in 2012, they eliminated the carry-forward loss provision. They exchanged rewarding failure--producing losses--for rewarding success--creating a business. It's too bad the media didn't accurately portray that 2012 tax bill, because in hindsight, it was Kansas ingenuity at its best, and it appears it's going to work when the economy truly gets rolling. (With a Republican in the White House, an actual recovery appears imminent, and then it's watch out, world.)

If tax fairness is truly the concern of the legislators who oppose the LLC-exemption, I sure hope they're planning to make KPERS pensioners to pay taxes on their retirement incomes at some point. As it stands now, they don't pay taxes on the income on the way in and they don't pay income taxes on the way out. The rest of us pay taxes on our retirements. That's but one example of dozens in the Kansas tax code that doesn't treat people "fairly."

The Solution

Grassroots friends, the pressure for conservative legislators to capitulate to liberal nonsense masquerading as fiscal sanity is going to be intense. This bill is going to be vetoed, and we're going to need to call our friends to ensure they hold the line. 

If moderates are hellbent on eliminating the LLC-tax incentive, fine. Conservative legislators, with the help of the Speaker who is supposedly an ally, make them vote on clean legislation that does only that. We can't allow the lowest income taxpayers to bear the burden of a government that will not cut the fat. 

Your legislators need to know what conservatives expect them to do. Don't let up on the phone calls, emails, and letters. Twitter and Facebook work, too. If your legislator is going to be at a forum or town hall, please stop in and thank those who voted correctly. Don't mince words for those who voted to balance the budget on the backs of hard working Kansans.

Conservatives got complacent a few years ago, and it's time to step up our game. Everyday Kansans are doing our best to stay afloat without any lifejackets, while the wealthy and Democratic special interests row away in the lifeboats.  We need the help of strong, principled conservative leaders in the House and Senate.