Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Elections: April 2010

GREAT BEND, Kan. - On January 16, 1997, longtime statehouse Associated Press journalist John Hanna wrote an article entitled "Regents Budget Scrutinized," about funding for higher education in Kansas.

Hanna interviewed a KU student named Kevin Yoder from Hutchinson, who said he was concerned "whether he, his friends and other young people will be able to afford to attend college." Yoder, a political science major, told Hanna: "Students are always getting new fees."

Thirteen years later, Kevin Yoder is Chairman of the Kansas House Appropriations Committee. And his concern for college students paying "new fees" has vanished.

Many Soundbytes Do Not Make a Meal

BOGUE, Kan. - I attended the recent event at Fort Hays State Univ. last Monday, April 26, to hear 7 Republicans and one lonesome Democrat (Alan Jilka of Salina) use up less than ten minutes apiece to introduce themselves, deliver soundbytes on six broad issues, and get an additional closing minute to come up with something really big.

Given the number of candidates and the 90-minute slot, from which was deducted a few minutes for a welcome by Dr. Edward Hammond (and a few more for the moderator, Kent Steward to explain the format, ask the questions and enforce time limits), that seems a generous estimate.

Except for a couple semi-moderates like Marck Cobb of Galva, and Tracy Mann of Quinter, the Republicans tried to out-rightwing one another, appealing to the base, I guess.

immigration.gifWICHITA, Kan. - For over a century, some in American politics have attempted to keep certain groups of people from voting. Traditionally, going back to ancient Rome, the only people who could vote were those who owned property and the people who owned the property were men. But over the years, the United States passed laws and constitutional amendments to expand voting rights to other groups of people. In spite of Jim Crow laws and other similar means of disenfranchisement, we are generally quite proud of our efforts in suffrage, though the reality is we have a very long way to go.

Last week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a new measure to "crack down" on undocumented workers. It requires, among other things, for immigrants to carry their papers on them at all time that prove they are in the country legally. As these papers are important legal papers, it is dangerous to carry them around all the time. Kansas Secretary of State candidate Kris Kobach says this will apply only to immigrants and not US citizens as it is a federal crime to say one is a citizen when they are not. This is a curious statement.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - It is often said that Kansas has three political parties: Democrats, Moderate Republicans, and Conservative Republicans. And at the young age of 34, Kevin Yoder is one of the few elected officials who has been a member of all three.

Yoder, like many with family roots in the Amish/Anabaptist areas in Reno and Harvey County, started his political journey as a Democrat. In many ways, the group of Mennonites and Amish who populate Reno and Harvey County could be described as
"religious left." And hence, many are Democrats.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - I made a huge blunder early in my marriage. Julie and I were married in 1989. I was lucky to convince this Wichita girl to move out west to Great Bend.

When election day arrived in November, 1990, I did something terrible that my wife still reminds me about today.

I told her who to vote for. Big mistake. I didn't think of it as sexist at the time. I was a political junkie and this was her first election living out here on the Great Plains. So I thought I would give her some advice. I was so stupid that I actually made up a list for her to take into the voting booth. A colossal mistake.

brownback.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - "Sam Brownback's career in Washington is defined by gridlock and partisanship, not results," said Kenny Johnston, Executive Director of the Kansas Democratic Party, "Simply put, Kansans disapprove of Sam Brownback's so-called 'Washington leadership.' Voters are quickly realizing he's not the solution for Kansas, he's just part of the problem in Washington."

According to Kansas Democratic Party staffers who have examined recent poll numbers, Brownback had an approval rating at 57% in November. In the time since the November poll was conducted SurveyUSA has conducted five more polls, revealing an overall downward trend in his approval. In the past sixty days alone, his approval rating plummeted fifteen points while his disapproval steadily rose ten points. Currently, Sam Brownback has a 41% approval rating and a 47% percent disapproval rating.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - You can't sell a product by hiding it from the public. And Senator Sam Brownback's "duck and cover" strategy that I wrote about on March 10 continues. So does his slide in the polls. Survey USA shows Brownback with a 41% approval rating in Kansas, and a 47% disapproval rating. Hiding doesn't work.

Brownback seems invisible, and isn't talking to the press much. And I think I know why.
The Kansas budget crisis is so bad that Brownback wants to wait until the Kansas Legislature is out of session before he speaks. Is he hoping the legislature will raise taxes and that the budget crisis will be over?

Jerry Moran Opened a Can of Worms

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - When U.S. Senate candidate Jerry Moran was criticized recently for accepting subsidized rent from "The Family," his response was pathetic. He blamed people who "hate Christians" for criticizing his cozy living arrangement at the C Street House, owned by a cultish group known as "The Family."

Moran playing the "Christian persecution" card was kooky for many reasons. But I would like to take a look at this from a different angle. Can the C-Street run house really be called "Christian?"

I don't think so. This outfit known as "The Family" that Moran has associated himself with is not Christian at all---at least if Christianity is about Jesus the Nazarene.

Doug Coe, who is basically "the Pope" of this weird organization, tells people like Moran that Jesus the Nazarene got it all wrong.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - While the four frontrunners for the Big First Republican congressional nomination - Jim Barnett, Tim Huelskamp, Rob Wasinger and Tracey Mann - fight amongst themselves, another candidate, Monte Shadwick of Salina, seems like the quiet dark horse that could come out of nowhere to win the nomination.

A generation ago, his father, Gerald Shadwick of Great Bend, got 40% of the Republican primary vote in the Big First, and barely lost to Keith Sebelius, 48% to 40%.
12% went to a candidate named Crotinger. A mere 5,000 votes separated Shadwick from Sebelius in that 1968 primary.

That was a three-way race in 1968. But a generation later, Gerald's son, Monte Shadwick, is in a 7 candidate primary. And if this Shadwick draws any where near 40%, he will win the nomination for the right to face fellow Salina resident Alan Jilka in the general election.

Mr. Wasinger Goes to Kansas

GREAT BEND, Kan. - One of my favorite movies is "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," the 1939 Frank Capra film starring Jimmy Stewart. What's amazing is how contemporary the film is, in terms of how corrupt the system can become. In the film, Jefferson Smith (played by Stewart), an innocent wide-eyed idealist, gets appointed to fill a U.S. Senate Seat in an unnamed Western state vacated due to the death of a Senator.

People still love the film today, because they love the story line: a true idealist, an honest man "too good for politics," thrust into the corrupt world of Washington, D.C. When newly-minted Senator Jefferson Smith arrives in Washington for the first time, he is awestruck by the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol Building, and the idea of serving "We the People." He quotes Lincoln and Jefferson, but literally doesn't know his way around the Capitol, and his rookie mistakes are funny and refreshing. But what is more refreshing is what he stood for: bedrock honesty. Those who appointed him mistook his naivete for malleability, and thought they could control him. They couldn't.

The Fruit Is On the Ground

HAYS, Kan. - I know. Criticizing a campaign mailer -- or maybe that should be spelled "campain maler" -- is like picking the fruit hanging so low it's almost on the ground. But maybe you will allow a little venting.

I won't criticize the use of suggestive phrases instead of actual assertions ("Kansas values. Kansas commonsense.") Nor will I criticize the assertions that are only questionably relevant: "Five generations of Mann's [sic] have lived in the house his great-grandfather built." OK. But he lives more than 100 miles to the east.

But then we get these words: "Free market solutions for healthcare reform" and "protect Social Security and Medicare." Under the assumption that he is listing these things because he supports them, isn't there a problem here? Neither Social Security nor Medicare are "free market solutions," and that is their glory. We have learned from hundreds of years of experience now that free markets are greatly inventive, but without assistance they promote inequality. In fact, they promote so much inequality that those who can no longer sell their labor or intelligence on the free market would be left without the necessities of life.

So which do you want, Mr. Candidate, free market solutions or help for the elderly?

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Senators Huelskamp and Barnett are not only the two front runners for the Big First Republican Congressional nomination, they are both doctors. Huelskamp has a doctorate from American University in political science. Barnett is an M.D., graduating from KU Med School in 1979.

Most doctors don't give away their inventory, their knowledge, for free. But Dr. Huelskamp is literally giving free advice to Dr. Barnett that could lead to a Barnett victory in the August 2 primary. "Jim Barnett is committing political malpractice by posing as a conservative," says Huelskamp, through his Campaign Manager David Ray.

The Huelskamp campaign is handing out the best advice any candidate like Barnett could hope for. And with four months to correct the problem! I've never seen such an act of charity from one competing politician to another.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Lisa Johnston has spent the past 17 years working in higher education teaching and supporting students. This should come as a breath of fresh air when viewing the current education disparities in Kansas and the nation.

For the past seven years, Johnston has worked as Assistant Dean for Student Academic Services at Baker University where she both teaches courses and oversees a variety of support services for students.

Prior to holding this position Johnston served in a variety of administrative, teaching, and academic support roles at several different universities. She has earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Psychology from the University of Central Missouri and the University of Kansas and will complete her Ph.D. in Foundations of Education from the University of Kansas in May of 2010.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - 37-year-old Congressional candidate Rob Wasinger was born and raised in Hays, but left the state in high school when he enrolled in an exclusive Massachusetts Boarding School known as Deerfield Academy. He spent his last two high school years in Massachusetts.

Then Wasinger attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He married a New Hampshire girl, owns a home in Virginia, and lived in the Washington, D.C. area for at least 12 years working for Senator Sam Brownback.

Rolling Stone magazine said Wasinger "speaks with a Harvard drawl." Wasinger and his family moved to Cottonwood Falls, KS recently to make him eligible to run for Congress in the First Congressional District, but where is his heart: East Coast or Western Kansas?

GREAT BEND, Kan. - There are eight candidates for First District, U.S. Congress. Democrat Alan Jilka of Salina is the only Democratic candidate. Republican candidates include State Senator Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler), State Senator Jim Barnett (R-Emporia), Rob Wasinger (R-Cottonwood Falls), Tracey Mann (R-Salina), Monte Shadwick (R-Salina), Sue Boldra (R-Hays), and Marck Cobb (R-McPherson).

My question for each of them is this: If you lose the August 3 primary, or the November 2 general election, will you still live in the First District, or will you move back to an urban area?

Jilka, Huelskamp, Barnett, Shadwick, and Boldra are longtime residents of the First District. I don't even need to ask them, because I know they are going to continue to live out here with us country folks whether they win or lose. I know this because they have lived here for decades. They like it here. I don't know anything about candidate Marck Cobb of McPherson, but he appears to be a McPherson townie.

But Wasinger and Mann? That's the $64,000 question.

Crazyville Redux

WICHITA, Kan. - It has been two weeks now since the recent country wide window smashing incident that among other places effected Kansas also. My question and asked by others is where is the outrage? Not among those who support the Democratic party or progressivism, but those on the other side of the aisle. Those who on any other issue scream the "Rule of Law", their has been several ordinary Republican/Conservative citizens who have called the Sedgwick County Democratic Headquarters and expressed their displeasure at the recent vandalism. However from GOP leadership nothing but silence, no condemnation from either Senators Brownback or Roberts nor from Congressman Tiahrt who represents Sedgwick county.

Also silent, State GOP chair Amanda Atkins, Sedgwick County Republican Chair Kelly Arnold, and every member of the South Central Republican delegation, candidate, and office holder. Several members of the GOP delegation pride themselves on being moderates yet they too remain silent? Either they are attempting to placate the fringe elements of their base for votes, afraid of the fringe elements or approve of violent tactics themselves and only give lip service to being moderates in order to get votes.

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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the Elections: April 2010 section.

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