GREAT BEND, Kan. - Political races are the only contests I can think of with no referee to punish bad behavior. In basketball, if an opponent trips you on your way to a game winning layup, you get foul shots. In jury trials, if an opponent introduces inadmissible or misleading evidence to a jury, a judge can grant a mistrial. In baseball, a pitcher throwing spitballs is ejected, often banned for months.
But political elections in Kansas are unique. There are no refs, and there are no Kansas statutes criminalizing lying in political campaigns. In a close race, a candidate's conscience is his only guide, as Jimmeny Cricket would say. And conscience alone doesn't stop candidates like Sam Brownback from a "win first, apologize later" mode of operation.
One lawyer who requested a mistrial based on prejudicial evidence told the judge: "You can't throw a skunk into the jury box and expect the jury not to smell it." And Sam Brownback knows better than most that you can throw a skunk into a ballot box at the last minute with no possibility of punishment or a do-over. It's winner take all.