Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): August 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hurricane Rule Change

Tampa -- The big story on the ground at the RNC Convention -- at least among delegates -- is a rule change proposed by Mitt Romney's team.

I don't have a lot of time to go into it now, but I will do so later when I have a chance. Of course, that could be while I'm on the plane home.

In short, Mitt is trying to usurp decades worth of Republican rules to thwart the Ron Paul supporters. It's also an attack on the Tea Party. The proposed changes, specifically Rule 15, would essentially allow the presumptive nominee, in this case Mitt Romney, to stifle dissent on the platform committee and unseat delegates.

Fortunately, it seems that most states' delegates are prepared to stick a knife in the proposed change. I consider the Republican Party a bottom-up party -- meaning the grassroots activists and the people themselves drive party leadership. This proposals flips that idea on its head.

It's disastrous. I, for one, don't think a Massachusetts Republican should tell the Kansas Republicans how things are going to be. In reddest or red Kansas, we have our own ideas, and they should be heard -- even if the presumptive nominee or the Establishment disagrees. Let's have the argument -- not kill the debate.

More later.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Yoder on Letterman

Yeah, he wasn't a guest.

Dave's Top Ten List for Aug. 20, 2012:

Top 10 Excused that Kevin Yoder gave for skinny dipping: 
10. "What's the big deal, I was naked the whole trip."

9. "It was spring break; chill out."

8. "People in the Middle East are pretty easygoing about nudity."

7. "In my defense, I had been drinking heavily." (This is probably the truth, according to me, Gidget.)

6. "Trying to take the focus off Mitt Romney's taxes."

5. "It had been days since a congressman did something embarrassing."

4. "It's Obama's fault."

3. "Putting the 'junk' in 'congressional junket.'"

2. "I can't swim naked, but Barney Frank can walk around like this?" (Picture Frank in a blue sweater and jacket.)

1. "That's how we party in Kansas."

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Democrats think Yoder should resign...

It's a real knee slapper.

The Democrats are rich. Truly, truly rich. Here, the Kansas Democrats express their disgust at Yoder for dropping trou at the Sea of Galilee.

Joan Wagnon, Chair of the Kansas Democrats, is demanding that Yoder step down. This is ridiculous.
I don't recall the Kansas Democrats calling for the resignation of President Bill Clinton, after he used a White House intern as a semen receptacle.

I also don't recall indignation from the Kansas Democrats when one of their respected activists was arrested and prosecuted for kiddie porn, although to their credit, they have scrubbed that guy's name from just about every Democratic cause in the state, they never issued a press release on the topic.

And to date, I have yet to see a press release demanding that the current president release documents about Fast and Furious -- an actual crime.

To watch them work, you'd assume the Democrats have absolutely no standards at all. Elizabeth Warren can lie about her heritage; Barney Frank can run a male escort service from his house; John Edwards can father a child with a mistress and lie about it while his wife battles terminal cancer; and presidents can lie under oath and to the American people.

I'm glad to see they do draw a line in the sand -- no skinny dipping.

Here are Wagnon's ridiculous comments:

Rep. Kevin Yoder’s grave error of judgment calls into question whether he is fit to serve Kansas and our nation. It is beyond inappropriate for a sitting Congressman, acting in his official capacity, to strip naked in the presence of other Congressmen and their families. Rep. Yoder should step down immediately and not subject Kansas to any further embarrassment.
As a Kansan, I am embarrassed and disappointed in Rep. Kevin Yoder’s unprofessional and immature behavior.  Rep. Yoder’s poor decision-making reflects poorly on himself and Kansas. We deserve more from our elected officials than these childish antics.
It’s also no surprise that this occurred on a special interest-sponsored vacation. It appears that Rep. Yoder is fitting right into the Washington D.C. tradition of taking lavish trips while ignoring the difficult issues facing his constituents here in Kansas.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yoder, I'm shaking my head...

Well, this is embarrassing.

Rep. Kevin Yoder was caught with his pants down, err off, in the Sea of Galilee.

According to Politico, Yoder joined dozens of participants in a dip in the Holy Land sea last summer during a Congressional fact-finding trip to Israel.

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. Yoder, it turns out, was the only one to take the plunge sans any clothing.

Much of this story is deeply, deeply disturbing to me.

First, the shameful event came to light because the FBI investigated the skinny dip. I'm not sure why this incident is worthy of the FBI's time or efforts.

Second, I don't really care if my Congressman has a wild streak. I like my leaders with a side of the human condition. I've been known to act a little crazy every now and then -- especially when I'm getting away from the everyday.  That said, Yoder wasn't on a vacation with his fraternity brothers. He was traveling with members of Congress on work trip where he wasn't just representing the United States, he was traveling as one of a very select few leaders of our country. While there may be a time and a place for skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee, that wasn't it.  Yoder's actions, as well as those of the others involved, shows a stunning, stunning lack of judgment in situation that shouldn't have required a lot of deep thought. It makes me question whether we can trust his judgment for other, more important decisions.

Finally, this isn't the first such rumor of Yoder's wild behavior to leak. In his first week in Washington, rumors surfaced that he and other freshman members of Congress were dressed down for bad behavior -- drinking to excess and behaving like the U.S. Capitol is Animal House the Sequel.

Yoder isn't 23 anymore. He's a big boy with a big job. To date, I have been more than pleased with his efforts in D.C. Judging from the fact that he doesn't have a single opponent -- Republican or Democrat -- in the 2012 election, I think we can assume many, many are pleased with the job he's done.

In a statement about the incident, he said:

“A year ago, my wife, Brooke, and I joined colleagues for dinner at the Sea of Galilee in Israel. After dinner I followed some Members of Congress in a spontaneous and very brief dive into the sea and regrettably I jumped into the water without a swimsuit. It is my greatest honor to represent the people of Kansas in Congress and [for] any embarrassment I have caused for my colleagues and constituents, I apologize.”

For now, I think his piss poor judgment can and will be overlooked. But that will quickly change if the young Congressman can't keep his clothes on in the future.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Brownback scares small children

Gov. Sam Brownback has asked agencies to trim budget proposals for next year by 10 percent.

In a letter to state agencies, he said the trim budgets are in case of economic problems that are "beyond our control."

I'm not sure what that means, but it from the sound byte from his press secretary, it sounds like the Governor's Office is making plans for some sort of disaster.

Sherriene Jones-Sontag told the Lawrence Journal World, " The governor has asked state agencies to prepare contingency budget plans should something happen to the country and world economies that are beyond our control.”

Um. Like what? An earthquake? Fires? A global currency collapse? A war?

The liberals are screaming about cuts to services they say will send granny over a cliff in her wheelchair and lead to starving Kansas children with distended stomachs begging for table scraps in the streets. Every human who has ever worked with a family budget knows that there ARE things that can be cut without too much pain.

In a household, that might mean getting rid of cable. In a state agency, it might mean trimming the number of state provided cell phones; limiting training that requires travel. No one is going to starve with 10 percent in cuts. The school buildings are still going to have electricity.

While these fools are caterwauling about cuts that will likely never occur, they should be asking themselves exactly what Brownback is worried about. Does he know something we don't?

Because I'm reading between the lines and deciding it's high time I stock up on ammunition, bottled water, dried goods and cans.

Was Vratil a no-show??

Soon-to-be former state Sen. John Vratil was supposed to join Democrat Joan Wagnon, some lobbyists and a KU professor at a press conference yesterday. That's the word I received. Michael Mahoney obviously got the same memo that Vratil was going to appear with the merry band of Brownback bashers.

But a full day after the press conference, I can find no mention of Vratil being anywhere near the GOP busting event.

If anyone knows whether Vratil attended or spoke at the press conference, I'd love to hear about it. He isn't mentioned in any news stories about the event.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pack a lunch

State employees are overpaid bureaucrats, but still, they deserve a little better than this:

The Governor is inviting state employees to pack a lunch and join him on the Statehouse lawn for a picnic. The first thousand will receive free cookies and ice cream. AND, hold onto your hats, Cabinet secretaries and agency directors will help pass out the goodies. Be still, my beating heart! You mean, I could get a cookie handed to me by Sec. of Revenue Nick Jordan? I am certain they're all just thrilled.

If you're going to honor employees, actually honor them. Only going halfway seems like more of a slap in the face, and I'm sure it feels obligatory.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I always knew Vratil was a Democrat...

If his voting record and "leadership" weren't proof enough that soon-to-be former Sen. John Vratil is a Democrat, we can add this nugget to the list:

Vratil will join Kansas Democrat Party Chair Joan Wagnon in a press conference to refute statements made be Gov. Sam Brownback and economist Art Laffer. The pair recently said states without income taxes perform better than those states with income tax.

If I wasn't too lazy to set up a Paypal account, I would allow you to place bets on exactly when Vratil comes out as a Democrat. I say he switches parties by the end of September.

Kiegerl ailing, replaced

Two important pieces of information from the last few days -- both involving former Rep. Mike Kiegerl.

Kiegerl resigned from the Kansas House effective July 31. Precinct committeemen and women elected Bill Sutton, who won the Aug. 7 primary in the 43rd District, to fill the remainder of Kiegerl's term.

And in related and sad news, Kiegerl suffered a stroke on Aug 13. Avid political watchers may remember he suffered a mini-stroke during the legislative session in February of 2010. He recovered nicely and served honorably in 2011.

I do not know his current status. I don't know if he's recovering at home or in the hospital. But I do know, he could probably use your prayers.

Denning scraps his way into retaining sheriff's job

Somehow this escaped the notice of virtually everyone, but am I the only person astounded – I mean capital ‘A’ astounded – by the narrow margin of victory for Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning?

Prior to the Aug. 7 primary election, which determined who will be sheriff in Johnson County for the next four years as there is no Democrat filed for the role, I would’ve thought Denning was an absolute sure thing. I thought Ken Smith was wasting his time taking aim at who I believed to be a popular sheriff with wide name recognition as well as a brother taking on the least popular member of Senate leadership in the state.

Boy, was I wrong.

Yes, Frank Denning will have another four years as sheriff, but his victory whistled past the graveyard. His margin of victory was 1 percent, or about 501 votes.

This essentially guarantees that Denning will have an opponent in the next election. It also means Denning isn’t nearly as popular as everyone assumed. Denning spends too much money, and people are catching on.

Smith’s narrow defeat is even more astounding when one considers that the political establishment treated him like a leper. Should he decide to run again in four years, Smith will have more support from party insiders thanks to his terrific showing last week. Their assistance will add up to more than 501 votes. And that will be the ballgame for Frank Denning.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Laughter through tears

It's been two days since the political earthquake that will shake up Topeka. The Republican Primary election is over and for the most part, I'm pleased with who is left standing. But those tears I'm laughing through aren't happy tears.

Most importantly, the moderates as we once knew them are gone -- finito. For now, this is a very good thing. Kansas needs to get its financial house in order, and that was impossible given the make-up of the old Senate. The conservative takeover of the Senate is, of course, the headline story of KS GOP Primary Election 2012.

But a more careful look at the overall results is troubling, because they cede too much power to one man -- Sam Brownback. I'm not bashing the Governor -- he's the most conservative Governor we've had in my lifetime, and for that, I am grateful. But he isn't a god. He's a man filled with same sin and demons as the rest of us.

There were candidates in this election, at least a few in the Senate and a handful in the House, who were conservatives in every possible way, but were not the chosen candidate of Brownback to sit at the right hand of Brownback. These candidates were ideologically similar to Brownback, but driven more by principle and therefore more likely to question Brownback if they disagreed. They provided the "balance" the moderates were screaming about, but it was balance from the right instead of from the left.

Of the winning candidates, I see very, very few who will question Brownback, and that is a problem. We've cut off the head of a very bad snake by eliminating most of the moderates, but we must be ever vigilant that another monster doesn't grow in its place.

Without any serious, principled opposition, I fear that is exactly what will happen. We've already seen how Brownback will drop the knife into the back of anyone who questions him. I'm thinking Charlotte O'Hara; Dick Kelsey; and even Trent Le Doux. These candidates were guilty of publicly questioning Sam Brownback -- nothing more. LeDoux and O'Hara are not moderates, and Kelsey largely toed the party line as well. All three, and a handful of others did not move beyond the primaries.

Good leaders need people who aren't afraid to hold them accountable by questioning them. This makes a good leader even better, and it helps keep the power from going to their heads. This is also a moral issue -- too much power unchecked in the hands of one person is dangerous -- not just for society as a whole, but for the mortal soul of the person in power as well.

For now, conservatives can claim a very big victory, but we can't rest on our laurels, lest we loose another beast. We must remain vigilant and unafraid to question our leaders -- even the one at the very top. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The verdict (postponed)

I know you're all breathlessly awaiting my thoughts on last night's election returns, and I'm sorry to say, you're going to have to wait.

I'm so extremely exhausted after a late night at the JCRP watch party that I'm having trouble putting thoughts together, let alone sentences.

But, I'll leave you with this until tomorrow:

It appears some of you did not take my recommendations with you into the ballot box, because not ALL of my candidates won -- most, but still, not all. This makes Gidget angry. You won't like her when she's angry.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Down low on the ballot Endorsements

There aren't any headline races appearing on the ballot tomorrow, but if you're a political junkie or you take your civic responsibility seriously, there are a few down ticket races to consider before casting your vote on Aug. 7.

If  you are one of those people who takes your civic responsibility seriously, you probably don't need my input. BUT just in case you've been far too busy watching the Kardashians to pay attention, I'm offering my endorsements for down ticket races in Johnson County.

District Attorney: Steve Howe

He doesn't have an opponent, but I may never again have a chance to tell the world what I think of Steve Howe: I don't like him. He's a jerk, but he's a conservative jerk and he doesn't have an opponent. So that makes it pretty darn easy. I can't even find a current campaign website for him, so he doesn't appear to give a rat's behind about campaigning or talking to voters, but he's all we've got.

County Sheriff: Ken Smith

I like Ken's opponent, Frank Denning, an awful lot. However, I have a few concerns about the current sheriff. First, he's pro-choice. I realize that's not the sort of issue that should matter in a sheriff's race, but every office provides a platform for a different office. That said, I would discount his questionable social views and have in the past. My second concern is the sheer amount of spending Denning advocates. You will never hear the sheriff say, we have plenty. We've spent enough. You can always count on him to have his hand out asking for additional funds.

The final straw was the permanent sales tax increase to support public safety. I thought the taxes we already paid were supposed to cover that. If they didn't, Denning should have been asking that the county re-examine its spending priorities. Public safety should top the list of county government services, and if it doesn't, the commissioners aren't doing something right. I could live with a sales tax that sunset to fund a capital project -- like the jail. But a permanent tax to fund operations that should already be funded? No.

One final concern: All things being equal, I will always support the non-establishment candidate over the long-term incumbent. Always. Like I said in a previous post,  I like Denning personally. He's a nice guy, and he really believes in the (overwhelming) spending he's done. Smith is more conservative and he has the advantage of not being a party insider. That's a point in his favor in my book.

County Commission District 3: Benjamin Hodge

I may as well forget any hope of every becoming an insider with this endorsement. Hodge is a conservative that the Establishment loves to hate. He questions everyone and everything, and that certainly doesn't make you popular with the inner circle whose motto may as well be: We Know What's Best. No Questions Allowed.

And I'll admit, sometimes his methods do border on madness. It also troubles me that I don't think he's ever had a job in the private sector. But at the end of the day, voters will never have to doubt how Hodge will vote on things like personal property rights, transparency and spending. He will vote on the side of conservatives every time.

He has three opponents and two of the four will advance to the general election in this non-partisan race. Presta is also said to be a conservative and seems like a nice guy, but I don't know enough about him to say for certain how he'll vote on any given issue. Why go with the safe unknown quantity, when you don't have to?

State School Board: Steve Roberts 

The State Board of Education is a disaster in waiting. There is no amount of money in the world that will ever fill the existing body's quench for more taxpayer dollars -- results be damned.

Roberts is a little weird, but he's very nice and is working very hard for a spot on that board. I hope his efforts pay off. He's also conservative and the only Republican in the race. To date, there is exactly one conservative on the state board.

We should add one more.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Endorsements... Continued

One reason I am trying to endorse in every race in Johnson County is to poke fun at the myriad of organizations across the state who make endorsements in hundreds of races.  Some use questionnaires, but having read many questionnaires, it's really, really easy to guess exactly what to say on a questionnaire to earn the favor of the group sending it.

Most politicians answer honestly, but the questionnaires are a far cry from being able to fully understand the issues in races that have a local flair, and they certainly don't consider things like boardmanship, just how hard someone would fight for a specific issue and other personality traits.

Political races aren't simply a matter of black and white -- there are often varying shades of gray.

All of that is my windy way of saying, mass endorsements of every race are kind of a joke. My endorsements are also a bit of a laugh, but I'm making them based on knowing in the vast majority of cases, not just where the candidates stand on the issues, but knowing them personally. In the races where I truly don't have a clue, I'm not offering my opinion at all.Initially, I intended to endorse in every race in the state, but I quickly changed my mind. I'm only doing Johnson County, and even then, not every race. In one Senate race, for example, I really dislike the only Republican. In many House races, I don't know enough about any of the candidates to make a clear choice. And I don't have a CLUE what's happening on the ground in say, Garden City -- even though I know some of the players. I don't know the people who live there or what's important to them.  (Although, please note, when I make an endorsement I am 100 percent correct in my assessment and you should just take my word for it and vote as I say.)

Now that that's off my chest, let's move on to more Johnson County House endorsements

District 30: Lance Kinzer

Lance Kinzer is kind of the lion in the Kansas House when it comes to pro-life causes. That said, almost every bill he's sponsored has required a full-blown clean-up once they pass. I don't know if he's light on details or doesn't have the reasoning abilities to take into consideration the Laws of Unintended Consequences. But, his heart and his principles are in the right place.

He is facing another sitting representative after redistricting. Kinzer is by far the more conservative of the pair, and I like his chances. He hails from a more conservative part of the county, and I'll be surprised if he doesn't win.

That said, prior to the redistricting shake-up, he had his eye on the Speaker's job. I think it would be a mistake to make him Speaker. Of course, that could well change depending on who else throws their hat in for the job.

That brings me to my other concern about Kinzer: He's been grooming himself for politics since he was a child. He's an attorney and a veteran. And he has his eye set on even higher office. I'm not a fan of the lifelong politician of any political stripe.

District 38: Willie Dove

Dove has an uphill battle, but he's one of my favorite candidates in the Republican primary. My reasons for naming him among the vaunted few are not probably the wisest way to choose a candidate, but...

Dove is one of a handful of conservatives running who also happens to be black. He's extraordinarily active in his church and has a wonderful, wonderful way of speaking with people. It should be a matter of shame to the entire Republican Party that while Gov. Brownback is making it known exactly who he supports in each race in the state, he's been very careful to absolutely avoid all of the black candidates. (Yes, I'm saying it. I've thought it for some time and I'm saying it again now, I think the Governor is uncomfortable with black people.)

This is one of the major reasons we need people like Dove in elective office. The Republican Party in Kansas, and specifically in Kansas, has an absolute dearth of minority and women candidates. The few we do have are given minimal support UNLESS they were recruited specifically by the powers that be. This is shameful.

All of that said, Dove faces a very difficult primary in a very strange district that encompasses De Soto and Bonner Springs and a few rural parts of the county. His opponent seems like a fairly decent candidate as well and is the current mayor of De Soto.

This race is one to watch, and I am ever-so-hopeful that Dove carries the day on Aug. 7.

District 39: Charles Macheers

Macheers is an attorney, but don't hold that against him! He's one of the good ones, if such a thing actually exists. He ran and lost a difficult campaign for city council just last year, and now he's on the ballot again.

In the previous election, and in this one, he has faced the typical Johnson County RINO. This race's RINO is one of the lead RINO activists in the county, and I am hopeful that we can stick a fork in her efforts. Unfortunately, his opponent is well-known and has served in the legislature before and on the JCCC Board of Trustees.

It's going to be a very tough race, but I hope Macheers pulls it out.

District 43: Dan Thompson

Thompson is a relative political newcomer, who, like Willie Dove is the rarest of birds -- a black conservative. He served on the Gardner City Council and has a fairly, politically active daughter who writes for a newspaper.

He's approachable, friendly and conservative. Plus, he's an advocate for term limits, which I love. His opponent is a nice enough guy, but see my comments on Keith Esau in the previous post. I share that same concern about Thompson's opponent.

State House endorsements (a partial list)

It's not quite as dramatic as my Senate endorsements, but I can't leave voters high and dry in House races. They NEED a voice of reason and sanity to tell them exactly who they should support in every election. Note: I'll only be endorsing in Johnson County races, because that's all that matters. Am I right? Also, there are some races where I really don't know the candidates personally or through social media or their websites. I won't be offering my thoughts on those races, because I don't have any. So, without further ado, Gidget's House endorsement list:

District 8: Craig McPherson

I met this guy when he was running in the Republican primary for the Third District. I thought he was a very good candidate, though a little green and significantly outmatched by Rep. Kevin Yoder and Patricia Lightner. Throw in candidates with interesting personal stories like Dan Gilyeat, and well, McPherson really didn't stand a chance.

But I liked him. By far his worst trait is that he's an attorney.

So I'm thrilled he's tossed his hat into the ring for a seat in the House. He faces Sheryl Spalding, your basic Johnson County RINO, so the choice is clear.

District 14: Keith Esau

I'm about to say something not that nice, and for that, I apologize in advance. Please read further and get to the explanation for what I'm about to say: Esau is kind of a geek.

He has all of the right values. He serves as the Third District Republican Chair, and for the most part, he's kind and decent. I will admit I have been extraordinarily annoyed watching him seat alternates at the state convention. I really think he relishes his power there -- probably because this guy most likely was the last choice on the playground many years ago.

In everyday life, geekiness doesn't really matter. I mean, Bill Gates obviously shares that quality and look where he ended up. BUT, in my experience, the geeks of the world never quite recover from being picked last in dodge ball. They walk around with the tiniest chip on their shoulders and in politics that little chip can turn into a giant block of power happy. That does NOT result in good leadership down the road.
That said, Esau is clearly the better candidate. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of conservative ideals and he deserves a chance in the spotlight. (I hope I'm wrong about that chip.)

District 17:  Brett Hildabrand

Much has been written and discussed in political circles about this race. It's become a little, well, bitter. First Jason Lieb, Hildabrand's opponent, made a big to-do about being a family man. Lieb insinuated that Hildabrand couldn't serve well because he is single. Hildebrand is young and has never been married. That is not to his detriment. God says being single is good and a gift, so it's surprising that a self-described "family values" candidate like Lieb would make hay of Hildebrand's marital status.

But that's just the beginning of the story. Lieb has been convicted of giving booze to minors, AND if his Twitter feed is any indication, he likes to drink. Often. And brag about it. I like a drink now and again myself, but if I had a conviction for providing alcohol to minors, I probably wouldn't brag about the many, many, MANY times I have a libation.

All of this is a little beside the point: Hildebrand is a great candidate. He was one of the very best and brightest in his first term, and he absolutely deserves a second. (My one beef with Hildebrand: he moved after redistricting to land in this new district. I don't really care for carpetbaggers, but when you move a few miles, it's not like you're vaunting to a new community.)

District 18: John Rubin

Rubin is the conservative in this race and his opponent, Neal Sawyer, is the "moderate." Rubin has served admirably in the House. Sawyer is a tax-and-spender on the Shawnee City Council. (As an aside, his daughter is also running for a seat in the House. I'm not endorsing in that race, because Neal's daughter is an an advocate of never-ending school spending and adamantly pro-choice, but I know absolutely nothing about her opponent other than what I've read on his website. Neal and his daughter Stephanie are both terribly nice people, but they are Democrats in elephant clothing.)

District 20: Rob Bruchman

I'm really not that big of a fan of Bruchman. He's served one term in the House and voted correctly, however, if I remember correctly, he was a carpetbagger at the time. Despite mentioning my distrust of geeks with a chip on their shoulder in office, I also have a mistrust of men in office who have spent their entire lives with the hope of being a politician. We need NORMAL people in Topeka -- not men trying to prove they're cool enough and not men who began their lives with the dream of power in their eyes. We need people who are called to serve for a time -- men who have interests outside of politics.

 Bruchman strikes me as someone who has lived his entire life with the idea that he would seek office. These are types who eventually will do anything to maintain power and stay in office. But, to date, his votes have been spot on.

Stay tuned for the remainder of my House picks as well as the sheriff's race in Johnson County and the contested Johnson County Board of Commissioners race.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

State Senate Endorsements

And NOW, the post you've all been waiting for (drum roll, please) the coveted GIDGET S. State Senate Endorsement List.

Because my goal is to increase my power and because I think most voters are breathlessly awaiting a postcard or email detailing who they should vote for, I'm offering my own list of endorsements -- but only in the races where I know a little bit. (Sorry western Kansas, and by western Kansas, I pretty much mean anything west of Johnson County.)

Hold on tight friends. Gidget is about to blow your mind with state Senate endorsements.


District 6: Chris Steineger

Steineger is an odd, odd bird who seems to not really belong in either party. He's fiscally conservative, sometimes in ways that even make conservatives uncomfortable, but socially a liberal fool. He thinks sucking babies out of their gestational homes with a vacuum is A-OK, and he's probably believes in global warming hokum.

That said, he's a lone Republican with a chance in a district that boasts a whole lot of Wyandotte County. Someone needs to bring the message of conservatism to that corner of the metro. Steineger isn't the perfect messenger, but once those folks get used to electing someone with an 'R' next to their name, it will be easier a second time.

District 7: David Harvey

Harvey is a conservative. The end. His opponent is the RINO, Kay Wolf, who recently told the Kansas City Star that having a conservative Senate and a conservative House is bad for Kansas. Right. If you have conservative principles, don't you want those to win the day? David Harvey does. Where I come from, we call that principles. Where Kay Wolf comes from, it's some sort of devious game to have "balance."

District 8: Jim Denning

Jim Denning is a businessman. His opponent is a lawyer. I could just stop there, but I won't. Owens disgracefully led the Senate this year into a train wreck. He pulled a Lucy to Charlie Brown spiking the football on redistricting. There is every indication that his lack of redistricting efforts were an attempt to gerrymander an opponent out of his district. He needs to go.

Denning, on the other hand, served honorably in the House. And really, let's just be honest. This race is ABO -- Anybody But Owens.

District 9:  Julia Lynn

I almost didn't endorse in this race, but then what would poor voters in the 9th district do if they were forced to go to the polls without my input? Lynn works very hard. At one point, she had the full support of Kay O'Connor. O'Connor was one of the best legislators to ever serve in Kansas. Unfortunately, I believe Lynn and O'Connor had some sort of falling out, so I almost don't know who to trust. But, Lynn is a very nice woman, and she likes vodka tonics. The other person in the race is a Democrat.

District 10: Mary Pilcher-Cook

Eh. She's better than the other candidate. Pilcher-Cook also strikes me as a little more humble than most politicians. That's worth something, too.

District 11: Jeff Melcher

Melcher owns a business and is the conservative choice in his race against Pat Colloton. Throughout this campaign season, and even before, I've been astounded by how hard he's worked. He and his army of volunteers are in the streets almost every night. He's unassuming and dedicated. These are qualities we should all hope for in our elected officials.

The icing on the Melcher endorsement is that he's running against Republican in Name Only, Pat Colloton. Colloton has been endorsed by her predecessor, John Vratil, who I believe could easily vie for the championship title of Most Corrupt Kansas Politician. His endorsement should be the final nail in the Colloton campaign's coffin.

District 21: Greg A. Smith

By now, everyone in Kansas is familiar with the horrible tragedy that brought the Smith family into the public eye. Smith's daughter Kelsey was kidnapped from an Overland Park Target store and killed. Not content to allow the tragedy to define them, the Smith family, including Greg's wife Missey, worked tirelessly to see Kelsey's Law passed in Kansas as well as other states. In the future, the law may help save lives.

Greg recently finished his first term in the Kansas House, and now he's onto a new challenge: A seat in the Kansas Senate. If the voters in the 21st district are wise, they'll give it to him. He's a good man, a hard worker and endlessly principled.

District 37:  Charlotte O'Hara

I have been carefully monitoring this race, because I have been absolutely fascinated by how the establishment has thrown O'Hara under the bus. They haven't just done it once. They continue to run over her body every chance they get.

One very well-placed source in the Capital recently told me that if they did a popularity contest in Topeka, O'Hara would lose. Here I thought politics was about principles and backbone. Silly me.

There's never been a case made more clearly (at least in the brief time that I've been following Kansas politics) of what is wrong with politics. I know where O'Hara made her mistakes. She loudly disagreed with the Governor's plans to implement part of Obamacare in the state.

Legislators have told me that the Governor's door is always open and she should've taken it up with Brownback privately. Instead, she did what all politicians SHOULD do -- she took her concerns to the people. They were worthy concerns that everyone in the state had a right to know. Working out a backroom deal with the Governor would've been the WRONG thing to do.

I heard her speak about her plight to strip Obamacare initiatives from the state. She didn't say anything personal about Brownback -- other than they happen to be second cousins twice removed or some such. She simply disagreed with one of his policies.

She is principled -- even at personal cost. Even when I disagree vehemently with her -- as I did when she boldly backed Steve Howe for District Attorney over Phill Kline, I don't doubt for one second that she's doing what she believes is right. She's not dipping a finger in the pool to test the political waters. It is the quality I value most in leaders, and right now, we have too few leaders in Topeka. By and large, the Capital is filled with people making decisions based on how they can get re-elected or chair a better committee -- not based on what's right.

The other truly bizarre thing in this race: Her primary opponent, Pat Apple, has endorsements from the conservative organizations like Kansans for Life and from moderate organizations like the Kansas National Educators Association.

I think that's a problem. If you've been in office as long as Apple has and everyone likes you, you're doing something wrong. You're not fighting hard enough. You're not standing up for principles. You're going along to get along. Everyone in power knows they can count on Pat Apple to vote with whoever is in power.

In her short time in office, O'Hara has ruffled lots and lots of feathers. I don't see a problem with that, and those that do are THE problem. Conservative principles are worth fighting for, and she has made it evident in short order that she is willing to do battle.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Kudos to JCRP leadership

The Johnson County Republican Party deserves applause for their handling of a very contentious primary season. Because the leadership of JCRP is filled with humans, they obviously have their preferred candidates.

But you wouldn't know it when you step into the office and request assistance or information. The volunteers and the leadership at the JCRP headquarters have been professional and friendly to every campaign. I've heard nary a complaint from anyone.

While the state party, (Ahem. Amanda Adkins) has all but taken sides, the JCRP has held itself to a higher standard agreeing to assist any and all Republican candidates as they campaign. That is the proper course. There is nothing wrong with moderates attempting to work within the existing political system to move the Republican Party to the left. (I disagree with them and wish them nothing but failure in their efforts, but this is the nature of politics.) I adore and support the efforts of Tea Partiers and Liberterians to push the party in their direction, but no one has a monopoly on this party. This is one reason we're better than the Democrats. We don't shy away from a debate.

Ronnie Metsker, chair of the Johnson County Republican Party, sent a JCRP newsletter today asking county party members to support the winning candidates after the primary. This is, of course, easier said than done when it's certain hard feelings will remain long after the polls close. But it is necessary if we hope to accomplish anything other than simply getting people elected in the long term.

He writes: "Watching the Olympics this week, I was struck with a similarity of the Games to our Primaries.  The prelims temporarily alters teammates into opponents. Think Phelps vs. Lochte. Think of the amazing Fab Five USA Women Gymnasts competing for the two spots in best-all-around.  For a time, they were in opposition to each other.  Indeed, the primary is like an Olympic Prelim where the winner advances, the rest of the TEAM cheers and supports them to the medal stand. (Cue the national anthem.)

As we come to the close of the primary, I call on our Jo Co Republican TEAM to come together to support the winning candidate in our Primary.  If we do not, we will likely implode.  The other side would love to see us bickering, fussing, embittered, unforgiving and divided.  We must conquer this challenge.  We must come together.  Whoever wins, must count on the support of everyone, after the vote tally is posted."

I have never been a Ronnie Metsker fan. He's not as conservative as I would personally like him to be. But his efforts on behalf of the county party have typically been spot on.  


So Adam Smith goes to Chick Fil-A. He waits in line for hours to belittle an $8 an hour employee. The employee deserves, at the very least, a special commendation.

And Adam Smith deserves what he's getting. Formerly the CFO of Vante, Smith was given his walking papers after her posted his now infamous video on YouTube. (He has since removed it, but never doubt the social media finesse of the conservative underground. It's been saved and broadcast a million times since.)

From the press release:

Effective immediately, Mr. Smith is no longer an employee of our company. The actions of Mr. Smith do not reflect our corporate values in any manner. Vante is an equal opportunity company with a diverse workforce, which holds diverse opinions. We respect the right of our employees and all Americans to hold and express their personal opinions, however, we also expect our company officers to behave in a manner commensurate with their position and in a respectful fashion that conveys these values of civility with others.
We hope that the general population does not hold Mr. Smith's actions against Vante and its employees.

While I think Smith is getting his just desserts, I don't necessarily agree with him getting canned. If he was my employee, I would ask him to remove the media from YouTube and give him the sternest warning in the history of the world assuming this was his first such offense of such jerkiness proportions.

But then again, douchebags like Adam Smith don't wait until a fast food restaurant espouses traditional values before letting their jerk flag fly. I imagine he was horrible and difficult to work with.

And since Smith has decided to share it all with the world, we now have a shining example of just how ridiculous, cruel and embarrassing liberals truly are. Nice work, Adam.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The race no one is talking about

While everyone is busy fighting for seats in the Kansas Legislature, there’s one local race that absolutely no one is talking about. In that race, four Republicans vie for a seat on the Johnson County Board of Commissioners.

The job pays quite a bit more than the Kansas Legislature, and the board’s members spend millions of taxpayer money each year so it’s surprising to me how little has been written about the four men squaring off in a nonpartisan primary on Aug. 7.

The candidates are Benjamin Hodge, Steve Klika, Michael Lally and TerryPresta. All four are registered Republicans. One of the four will replace David Lindstrom on the county board.

I know very, very little about three of the candidates, and only a little bit about the fourth, Benjamin Hodge.

Hodge, of course, is a conservative who has served in the Kansas House and on the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees. After one term in the House, he moved to run for a seat in the Senate. He lost.

Politicos tell me he’s “not a team player.” Whatever the hell that means. I know he’s occasionally rustled feathers for telling a Star reporter that JCCC board members violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act by discussing the budget in an executive session. The fallout probably cost him re-election to the college board. He also has a political action committee. I don’t know if he has a job other than running for office, but his conservative credentials are top shelf.

Presta is the chosen candidate of Lindstrom himself. A word about Lindstrom – he’s a former Chiefs player who now owns a string of Burger Kings. At least, I think he owns Burger Kings – it could be some other fast food chain. His daughter works for the Governor, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Lindstrom is leaving the commission for some cherry role in Brownback’s administration. Each of these things makes me think a tiny bit less of his chosen replacement. I despise the way all politicians try to handpick their successors. The practice leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Presta owns (or did own) a bunch of convenience stores. I believe he recently sold them all, but I could be wrong.

The other two candidates I know virtually nothing about. But from what little I’ve read, I can’t say I’m enthused. Klika told the Star that he’d like to see improved public transportation and better schools in Johnson County. I can read between those lines – that dude wants to spend more money. No thanks.

And according to his website, he’s won some award from the Mid-America Regional Council. I don’t want to sound like I’m wearing a tin-foil hat, but MARC is nothing but a front for the United Nation’s Agenda 21. Trust me, the road to hell is paved with the ideas MARC wants to implement.

The final candidate is Michael Lally, who said he doesn’t support tax increases at this time. That’s a start. In the past, he served on the Overland Park City Council. Based on his website, he strikes me as a very typical, common Johnson County politician. He says nothing controversial in questionnaires or on his website, but none of it rings quite true. Most tellingly is an answer about a new Johnson County courthouse. He opposes it, but only because the citizens did not support the idea on a survey.

I would suggest that perhaps an effort to educate the citizens at large about the condition of the courthouse is in order. My sense is that if they learned what I learned that they may be supportive of a phased approach to a new courthouse later in this decade.”

I am not a fan of politicians who think that if the people only really understood the issues, the people would agree with the politicians. It’s quite arrogant to assume that the people don’t like something because they don’t understand it.

Two of these candidates will advance to the general election after the Aug. 7 primary. Eh. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Memo to Amanda: Quit flapping your jaws

State party chair Amanda Adkins is out with a new message today: Elect conservatives.

In a letter to Republicans statewide, Adkins said GOP voters must not squander the trust that has been put in the Republican Party in Kansas. She questions some of the PACs who made large donations to moderates.
“For example, it has come to my attention that one organization active in the primary has labeled itself a “Jobs” PAC but it is merely a shell for other entities that are not supportive of our philosophy or our plan for pro-growth change. Another labeled itself “Kansas” and “Republican” but was funded by out-of-state interests and hired a Sebelius operative,” Adkins wrote.

While I appreciate her message (and agree!!), I think it was in poor taste to send a screed against fellow Republicans – even if they are Republicans In Name Only. I know I’ve said this here before, but some of the so-called moderates are going to win their races. This is just a regrettable reality. Conservatives may well need their assistance at some point in the future, and they’re going to be much less likely to help after this difficult nasty campaign season.

I personally believe the time in the sun for the mods is about to come to an abrupt end, but it is highly unlikely that end will be permanent. Remember 1994, when the Republicans swept to power in Washington?

I remember thinking, conservatism has won the day, and I must not have been alone, because for the next 16 years, conservatives fell asleep at the wheel. Those in power in Washington grew complacent – or worse, they “grew” in office.

Should conservatives take over the Senate, and even Steve Rose seems to think they will, there is no guarantee that we’ll stay in control – or that we’ll be any good at maintaining our conservative principles when in power. That’s the nature of the beast, and we would all do well to remember that fact.

The head honchos of the party would be wise to shut their traps publicly. In private, yap as loudly and proudly as possible about your favorite candidates, but if you’re Amanda Adkins, you lead the entire Kansas GOP – not just the members with whom you agree. Work quietly from the inside to move the party right. Try to do it in a way that doesn’t make full blown enemies within the party.

I was also quite disappointed to see Adkins’ statement, “in partnership with Gov. Sam Brownback…” I realize that Brownback is our highest elected official in the state. BUT the state party is losing any ability it may have to hold him accountable to our principles if and when the need arises.

Adkins’ newsletter makes it perfectly clear that she is nothing if not the handpicked maiden of the Governor, and that is wrong. The Governor works at the pleasure of and for the people of Kansas. Adkins works at the pleasure of and for the members of the Republican Party. She would do well to remember that Brownback isn’t her boss. We are, and some among us, are more liberal than we would like.

Maybe I’m na├»ve, but the old saying that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar seems appropriate in this instance. Let’s quietly influence our friends and family to vote for the conservatives while spreading the honey on thick with the moderates. We may pull them in our direction if we leave the vinegar at home.