Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Ed vs. Ed

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ed vs. Ed

Ed Peterson
Things just got interesting. The Prairie Village Post is reporting that Ed Peterson will run for Johnson County Board of Commissioners Chair.

This is a bizarre and unexpected turn of events. I'm not sure what to think. For the most part, when the Johnson County machine is behind a candidate in a countywide election, the machine wins. Such was the case with Annabeth Surbaugh, the former county chair. When she first ran for the (overpaid) office of chair, the county winds were at her sails. All of the old money, old moderate squad supported her. They continued their support into her second term, and Surbaugh narrowly defeated Charlotte O'Hara.

And then, enter Ed Eilert, the former Mayor of Overland Park and member of the board of county commissioners.  I have yet to figure out what Annabeth Surbaugh did to make her previous supporters angry, but they bailed on her. A bevy of has-beens signed on to endorse Eilert's campaign, including, (weirdly) O'Hara, and Eilert became the chair. (He was bolstered by the support of many conservatives, despite the fact that Eilert is nothing of the sort.)

Peterson is the lone Democrat on the commission, although Steve Klika talks like one, too. Commission races are famously non-partisan (shaking my fist at the people on the JC Charter Commission and Ronnie Metsker). 

Johnson County is as conservative as it has been in my lifetime, I believe. (K. Yo and Yael Aboulhalkah agree with me on this.) So I suspect Ed Peterson will face stiff headwinds in this race.

That said, I'm assuming that Eilert will be running for a second term as Chair. That cozy $90,000 per year for part- time work is way too swanky. Surely Eilert isn't considering stepping down after one term.

 Peterson's comments in the Post lead me to believe Peterson anticipates a fight with Eilert. He said:

“During the past several years, county government stopped doing the things that made Johnson County a great place to live and work, choosing instead to settle for less. We are beginning to see the results of this stand-pat approach: We only fund one-half the maintenance for roads that is needed just to keep up. We have hundreds of acres of parkland that county residents cannot enjoy because we have not developed it. Our popular library system has had to reduce hours. We retreated from a transit plan just as it produced an increase in ridership. We have fallen further behind in overcoming the waiting list of adults with disabilities who are eligible for supportive services.”
You'll note he sounds just like the liberal he is -- wanting to spend money we don't have to reward his friends and supporters with government contracts.

What I'm wondering is this: Have the has-been Johnson County moderates jumped ship on Eilert like they did Surbaugh? And if so, why? Have the mods finally decided to go ahead and be Democrats in name as well as in action?

If so, it would bolster Peterson's chances, and give him a reason to run.

If the race is between Peterson and Eilert, I hope a conservative will enter the race. The non-partisan county races allow for a run-off election or primary. And if a conservative entered the race, I can all-but guarantee a fourth person would also throw a hat in the ring.

It's far too early to start running the odds, but if the race ends up being Eilert vs. Peterson,  I think Eilert wins by a landslide.

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