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Red State Blues--Again

By Diane Wahto
Opinion | July 29, 2014

Yes, here we are again. Election time around the country. Not for president, this time, but for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as for state offices everywhere. For those of us who are Democrats in Kansas, that leaves many opportunities for muting the TV when campaign ads come on.

In Kansas, the governor's race has garnered interest from around the country. The Kansas economy falls farther and farther into the toilet, thanks for Gov. Sam Brownback's belief in economist Arthur Laffer's economic theory that if you cut taxes to the bone for the wealthy, somehow the state, or the country, will magically become more prosperous. What gets left out of Laffer's theory is that public services also get cut to the bone. When one looks at what has happened to public education, social services, police and fire protection, and the maintenance of such things as city parks and streets, one can see the havoc the adoption of Laffer's economic policy has wreaked on our state.

In response, Paul Davis, a Democrat and the candidate I'm supporting, has mounted what seems to be a successful campaign against Brownback. According to some polls, he's outpaced the governor by eight points, with the primary just around the corner. He's also managed to bring in more money in contributions than Brownback has. Of course, we still haven't heard from the Koch machine in this race, and it's inevitable that it will be engaged as the general election grows closer.

So far, we Kansans have seen very few TV ads from either candidate. Right now, we are experiencing an onslaught of ads from 4th District Congressman Mike Pompeo and Todd Tiahrt. Pompeo now holds the House seat that Tiahrt gave up in his failing bid for the Senate. Now Tiahrt wants his seat back. My theory is his consulting business isn't paying him enough to keep him and his wife in the lifestyle they became accustomed to when he served in the House.

In the past, Koch money backed Tiahrt. Now the Koch money is backing Pompeo. Why is that? Pompeo has a track record of voting for, or against, interests the Kochs hold dear to their hearts, such as tax breaks for the wealthy, subsidies for oil, but not for renewable energy sources, killing the Affordable Care Act, decreased EPA oversight, no OSHA, no public employee unions, no earmarks--well, you get the picture.

So the ads roll along. During any network or cable TV program, viewers get to watch an ad from Todd accusing Mike of voting for "Obamacare," then ten seconds later comes an ad from Mike accusing Todd of lying every time he opens his mouth. This is very weird, given that they are both conservative Republicans who call themselves Christians.

What is even weirder is that when the Pompous one isn't excoriating Todd, he's going after Obama. I suppose in Kansas, going after Obama plays well. This, even though his mother and his grandparents were Kansans. Oh, well. His father was an African and that's all we need to know.

Other Republican candidates are going after each other with a vengeance as well, though not in as hearty a fashion as Mike and Todd--with those names, they could be early morning drive-time hosts of an Oldies show.

I don't remember who's running against Tim Huelskamp, the 1st District Congressman who refuses to vote to support the interests of the farmers and ranchers in his district. Whoever it is has put Tim in the position of defending his votes by saying they were good for Kansans. I'm not a farmer, but I doubt if any vote Huelskamp makes is good for Kansans, but I've never been a fan of his. Others who aren't his fans are the farm-based groups who have decided not to endorse him. They don't like it that he voted against their subsidies and managed to get himself kicked off the House ag committee. A Kansan has been on that committee since God made the prairie.

Yes, the mute button is getting a workout in our house right now. My husband and I are both Democrats and I've been active in the Kansas Democratic Party ever since I moved back to Kansas in 1972. I'm not as active as I once was, but I'm still there supporting Democratic candidates, writing letters for them, and sending them as much money as we can afford as retirees.

I suppose we should have left this state, my home state, when we were still young enough to uproot ourselves. Now, my children and grandchildren, as well as one brother and his wife, live in Kansas. We also have many friends here and I would hate to have to start over making new friends. Besides, where could we go? The sickness that has taken hold of the country since Obama was elected has spread almost everywhere. The best thing we can do right now is fight for change right here at home--and keep the TV remote handy so we can hit the mute button.


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This page contains just one story published on July 29, 2014. The one written previous to this is titled "Kansas Senator Pat Roberts Re-ignites Residency Controversy" and the story published right after this one is "Dueling Kansas Governor's Polls"

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