« Previous Story | Front Page | Next Story »

Democratic Primary: Who I Am Voting For

By Stuart Elliott
Opinion | August 1, 2010

charles-schollenberger.jpgWICHITA, 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
Labor Federation.

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.


Your chosen candidate for U.S. Senate has absolutely no chance to compete against Jerry Moran or Todd Tiahrt. He cannot speak without reading from notes and he does not inspire enthusiasm. A friend of mine said putting him up against Jerry Moran would be like sending a man with a wooden spoon into a gun fight.

You are also misinformed about Lisa Johnston. In a May article on this site, she explained the importance of the stimulus efforts and criticized both Moran and Tiahrt for bragging about voting against the very steps that needed to be taken. http://www.kansasfreepress.com/2010/05/ks-us-senate-candidate-gains-gop-support.html

I think you are unfair to both Johnston and Haley in that there is nothing wrong with wanting to work toward a balanced budget and to be fiscally responsible. As Johnston's quotes demonstrate, supporting the stimulus is not at odds with a long term goal of a balanced budget. Even President Obama discusses the importance of moving in this direction!

Schollenberger has also devolved into a desperate politics as usual type candidate. He promoted a national park in Kansas to curry favor with his former employer, the KC Star, whose editorial board suggested the idea initially. He talks about how he is the only candidate with "position papers" on his website. But, according to one of his staffers, these were written by a Washburn faculty person and there is no recognition of this on his website. He has accused other candidates of practicing misleading politics as usual but lied about his own voting history claiming it was "perfect" while trying to criticize one of his opponents.

In my view, Schollenberger does not deserve anyone's vote.

The editor is compelled to point out to KFP readers that of the two voting opinions expressed on this page, thus far, the first one has been written by a KFP writer who is using his authentic name and therefore is willing to stand behind his words publicly. The second one (thus far) is the comment written above by a completely anonymous commenter who seems unwilling to stand behind his/her comments publicly. Though we allow (and encourage and value) comments at this site and we do not have requirements that commenters user their real names, the editor believes that readers should be aware that we are unable to substantiate the assertions made by the anonymous commenter about candidate Schollenberger.

In particular, the sentence that begins "But, according to one of his staffers" cannot be verified or substantiated. The anonymous commenter has also accused Schollenberger of telling lies, and this claim is not substantiated either. Therefore, the editor would like to caution readers against accepting the anonymous commenters' comments as true, unless or until proof of these assertions is offered or until the anonymous commenter is willing to append his comments with sources and his/her authentic name.

We thank both our writers and our commenters for their opinions.

Fair enough.... proof of my claim that he lied about his voting history is included below:

In a 7/26 Prairie Politics article (http://bit.ly/cxc4OL), the following was written by Katie Stockstill: "Schollenberger noted that he had voted in all 10 elections." This was in reference to the past 10 elections.

However, if you access Kansas Secretary of State voting history data at https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org and enter Charles Schollenberger and his birth date (3/26/1952) you will see that he did not vote in either the 2006 or 2004 August primary elections.

Anyone who lies about his own record in order to try to discredit an opponent does not deserve the support of voters.

progsrock, thank you for following up with additional information. One caveat we might offer, however, is that the voting records prior to the 2008 election in some counties have been notoriously inaccurate. While this is anecdotal, we have talked to numerous individuals who insist they voted in particular elections but the records submitted to the voter file by the county clerks has not been consistent with those reports. I myself have been recorded as having voted in elections that I did not vote in as well as not having voted in some I did. Upon further investigation, I was told that numerous problems existed prior to 2008 in the reports submitted by counties.

Thank you again for taking the time to offer readers more information.

Interesting information....thank you for sharing.

Given your observation about the level of accuracy of the data, criticizing any candidate based on the voting history data seems problematic as well. It would be a precarious practice at best and potentially also not accurate or meaningful.

I've been told that the accuracy of the voting records submitted to the SOS have improved greatly - but I do wonder. Once you see inaccuracies it's hard to ever again trust what you see. I think the fault lies with the counties (and the professionalism and thoroughness may vary greatly by county) but one can't be sure where the real problem is.

Could Kansas Free Press contact the different candidates and ask them to respond to questions personally?

Post your own comment here

Do you want to read more? You've only just scratched the surface at the Kansas Free Press. We have so much more to read! Nearly all of the pieces published here are timeless and relevant, regardless of when the articles were first published. To discover more, please take a look at our Table of Contents or go back to our Front Page.

Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links below (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press:

About This Page

This page contains just one story published on August 1, 2010. The one written previous to this is titled "In This Together: Family, Friends and Neighbors" and the story published right after this one is "2010: Kansas Primary Election Results"

Our most current stories are always updated on our Front Page.

Other Archives

Interested in other topics? You may wish to poke around in our Table of Contents to find other sections and archives.

Do you want to explore pieces written by specific authors? You can find archives for KFP writers by reviewing our complete Directory of Authors and Writers here.

Recently Featured Stories

My Response As a Kansan to Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti has come on board The Nation magazine to fill in for Katha Pollitt as the feminist columnist while Pollitt is on leave to write a book. I've found reading Valenti's columns thought-provoking and insightful. She often takes …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Roots of the n-word

While N-word dialogue has slackened following Saline County Commissioner Gile's use of it recently, the word still has great power. So, let's look inward at the N-word. To reach a much deeper path to understanding, simply go to Ad …
Corporate Tax Reform

Basehor, Kans.--For an interesting twist on the corporate tax debate, look at Alan Sloan's opinion in the April 29 issue of Fortune Magazine. In all of the froth about corporate taxation, neither proponents of tax reduction, nor corporate critics, …

News and Opinion

Get Connected

See our FB page!
Subscribe for free!
[Feeds & Readers...]
Follow Kansas Free Press on Twitter, too!
Make Kansas Free Press your home page!

Journalists, sign in.

We're reader supported!

Whenever you use the specific links below to begin any of your online shopping, a portion of your sale goes directly towards the support of this site.

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.

Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links above (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press.

Thank you for your help!

Notices & Policies

All of our Kansas Free Press journalists are delighted that you are here. We all hope that you come here often, sign in and leave us comments, and become an active part of our community. Welcome!

Our writers are credentialed after referral to, and approval by, the editor/publisher of KansasFreePress.com. If you are interested in writing with us, please feel free to let us know here. We are always looking for Kansans who want to write about Kansas!

All authors here retain their own copyrights for their original written works, original photographs and art works. They welcome others to copy, reference or quote from the content of their stories, provided that the reprints include obvious author and website attribution and links to the original page, in accordance with this publication's Creative Commons License.

Our editor primarily reviews stories for spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting and is not liable or responsible for the opinions expressed by individual authors. The opinions and accuracy of information in the individual stories on this site are the sole responsibility of each of the individual authors. For complete site policies, including privacy, see our Frequently Asked Questions. This site is designed, maintained, and owned by its publisher, Everyday Citizen Media. The Kansas Free Press, KansasFreePress.com, and Kansas Free Press are trademarked names.

© Copyright, 2008-2012, all rights reserved, unless otherwise specified, first by the respective author, and then by KFP's publisher and owner for any otherwise unreserved and all other content.