Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Frank Denning is NOT a Sacred Cow

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Frank Denning is NOT a Sacred Cow

I'm not knocking Johnson County's Sheriff. Truly, I'm not. Frank Denning is a nice guy and under his tutelage, Johnson County has continued to be a safe place to live and work.

But let's not for a moment pretend that's all the Sheriff's doing. This is, after all, Johnson County. We're prosperous. We're in Kansas, and criminals are in short supply.

And now, I'm running from my point, which is this: Sheriff Denning has an opponent. This is a good thing for democracy, for the Republican Party, and for voters.

But whenever the other candidate's name is mentioned -- you can practically see Republicans mentally screaming from the room. BTW, I believe the Sheriff's opponent is named Ken Smith. I've never met him, but I've read his website. He seems like a good conservative guy.

However, from what I've seen and heard, this poor candidate is persona non grata in Republican circles, because Frank Denning is the brother of Jim Denning, a Johnson County Republican Party mover and shaker.

Jim, who is a sitting state representative, is running against Tim Owens, perhaps the most reviled RINO in Johnson County, for a seat in the state Senate. Party insiders and even many average Kansas voters know how critical it is that conservatives win the state Senate, so virtually every Republican activist in the county is sinking funding and volunteering time to ensure that Jim Denning is successful in the Republican primary this August. If I wasn't knee deep in other things this summer, I'd be walking door-to-door for Jim or one of the other handful of Johnson County (quasi) conservatives attempting to oust Senate RINOs. It's that important.

To sweeten the Denning pot, Jim's wife, Marearl, is the Secretary of the Johnson County Republican Party. You can't swing an elbow in the county party headquarters without hitting a Denning -- typically Marearl. She's sweet and helpful, but that doesn't mean members of the party shouldn't have an honest discussion about her brother-in-law, the Sheriff.

But, because politics, like everything else, is who you know rather than what you know, Ken Smith is a name that must be whispered behind closed doors or in dark alleyways.

And I'll be honest. In the sheriff's race, I'm not sure whether I'll vote for Smith of for Denning. But it's unfortunate I feel like I can't even take a look at the other candidate without raising the ire of everyone else in the Republican Party. We're a bigger tent party in some ways than I'd like considering all the RINOs wearing elephant pins, but in other ways, the party tent seems too small to hold people who don't have the last name "Denning."

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