WICHITA, Kan. - I don't ever remember so many choices in the Kansas Democratic primary as we have this year. There are contested races for United States Senate, Secretary of State, and the 4th Congressional District. There has been a lot more heat and dollars spent on the GOP side, so the information for Democrats to make an informed decision has been hard to come by. For what it is worth, here are my personal recommendations.
US Senate: Charles Schollenberger is the candidate who has taken the most progressive positions on the issues. Schollenberger, so far as I can determine, is the only candidate to openly support unions and the Employee Free Choice Act.
From his website:
Kansans have the right to a satisfying job and a fair wage, whether they work for themselves or others. They also have the right to organize unions and collectively bargain. An array of research demonstrates that union and organized labor benefits the economy by raising living
standards for union and non-union workers alike, making companies more efficient and productive, and by balancing the interests of ownership and investors with the interests of the hardworking men and women that make these companies thrive.
As Kansas' next U.S. Senator I will support legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act, which would impose real penalties on employers who harass or fire union sympathizers, or otherwise try to scare workers away from a union. Under the Employee Free Choice Act, if a majority of employees at a workplace sign cards favoring a union, the act would require an employer to recognize the union, avoiding long and destructive battles.
On the economy, Schollenberger has articulated a strong, progressive program in contrast to Lisa Johnston who uses the frame of the right. She writes about the "skyrocketing federal deficit" and promotes the misleading and dangerous notion that the federal government, instead of acting to stabilize the economy as a whole, should emulate the mythical household. David Haley in the Wichita Eagle candidate survey also pushed the GOP line about balanced budgets and even supported the line-item veto.
Schollenberger supports a strong economic recovery program and advocates that it be paid for by a financial transaction tax, a cutting edge position supported by the Economic Policy Institute and the AFL-CIO.
Schollenberger takes a courageous position in support of immigration reform and is strong in his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Any of the Democrats will be a decided underdog to either Jerry Moran or Todd Tiahrt in the November. Since there is no strong practical politics case that I can see for any of the Democratic rivals, I am going to vote for the most progressive candidate on the issues. That is clearly Schollenberger.
Secretary of State: Chris Biggs, the incumbent via appointment by Gov. Mark Parkinson is the clear choice over Chris Steineger. Biggs has been endorsed by Gov. Mark Parkinson, Sen. Anthony Hensley (Kansas Senate Minority Leader), Rep. Paul Davis (Kansas House Minority Leader), KNEA, Kansas State Firefighters Association, Mainstream Coalition, Wichita/Hutchinson
Steineger has flirted with the Tea Party and spoken at Kansans for (Koch) Prosperity events. He made noises about running for Governor and then lowered his sights. I can see no compelling reason for his challenge to Biggs.
Fourth Congressional District: I'll vote for Raj Goyle, although not with the enthusiasm that I had hoped to have. On many of the issues covered in the Wichita Eagle survey, I find myself more sympathetic with the positions articulated by Robert Tillman. Goyle, on the other hand, is a great natural politician, a prodigious fundraiser, and an extraordinarily well-organized campaigner. He could have a real chance to win the open seat in the Fourth Congressional race. While he's not a progressive Democratic and, I think, is running to the right of Dan Glickman, Goyle is clearly no Republican and would be a great improvement over Todd Tiahrt or presumed likely opponents Wink Hartman or Mike Pompeo.
Holland, Six, and McKinney. Tom Holland for Governor, Steve Six for Attorney General, and Dennis McKinney for Treasurer don't have primary opponents, but please vote for them anyway. They deserve your support.