Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Brownback Visits with Kansans

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Brownback Visits with Kansans

Gov. Sam Brownback visited the Northeast Johnson County Conservative Club last night, speaking casually to a friendly audience about some of the successes of his administration.

Migration to Kansas Up

In-migration to Kansas increased in 2014, the last year for which numbers are available, he said.
"We had been declining as a state relevant to the rest of the United States for 40 years," Brownback told approximately 50 people in attendance at a Leawood restaurant.
He recalled that when former Sen. Bob Dole was first elected to Congress in 1950, he represented Kansas' 6th Congressional District. Now there are four Congressional districts and maybe moving down to three, he said. His administration has been working to reverse that trend.

Improved Pension Program

When Brownback took office in 2010, Kansas' pension funding was second worst in the nation. Today, Brownback said, pensions are middle of the pack. That cost a lot of money, he said.

He also cited welfare reform, water policies, the adoption of a property tax lid and a 10 percent increase in education funding as other successes. 

School funding will be a big issue in the upcoming election, Brownback said, noting the Republicans face headwinds going into the November election. He urged attendees to vote for Republicans up-and-down the ticket, including Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Attendees were offered Trump yard signs and bumper stickers.

Trump named Brownback and Sen. Pat Roberts to his agricultural committee last month. Brownback told attendees he will also be serving on another Trump advisory committee, though Brownback didn't offer specifics.

Trump's economic plan for the country will be better than Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, the Governor said. 

"The U.S. economy is hurting," Brownback said. In the last seven years, he said, the median family income in America has gone down. "No wonder people are upset." 

Approximately 50 people attended the meeting in a Leawood restaurant. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer also attended the gathering, though he did not speak.

My Thoughts:

Before I was outed, I couldn't attend an event and write about it the next day. Many thanks to Tyler!

There was at least one reporter from the Shawnee Mission Post in attendance. I'll be interested to see his take on the event. That said, there are a few things I really, REALLY wish Brownback wouldn't have said during the event:

1. He opened with a  joke. It was as funny as any joke from any politician. (It was about being old. Knee slap!) 

2. The Governor introduced his son-in-law, who was in attendance. I met his son-in-law without realizing who he was a few months ago. The son-in-law is a good egg, and when I learned he was son-in-law, it colored my opinion of the Governor in a very positive way. (Brownback must be a good father for his daughter to choose a man of great faith and integrity.) That said, had I known his son-in-law was Brownback's son-in-law, I probably would have thought of him differently. It would have colored my opinion, and probably in a negative way. (I'm human. I have biases.) It's obvious the Governor is proud of him, and that's awesome. However, son-in-law was sitting at the same table as a reporter, one I'm willing to bet had no idea with whom he was sitting. Probably best to leave it that way. 

3. The Governor was wearing a large belt buckle and a belt that had "SAM" stitched into it. I do not understand this fashion choice when you're heading to a restaurant in Leawood. (Actually, I don't  understand having a belt with your name stitched on it if you're older than 10, but no one is ever going to ask me to be a fashion consultant.)

4. The Governor and his staff, I'm told, made a very conscious decision to disappear last January and not to resurface until after the August primary. Obviously, that plan didn't yield the electoral results I would have liked. I'm glad the Governor is out and about playing offense. This is a positive change. It may be too little too late, but staying holed up like Punxsutawney Phil wasn't a successful strategy. Brownback has little to lose by rallying conservatives.

5. The Governor wouldn't say whether he intended to veto any potential bills. He said he prefers to see legislation before saying what he would or wouldn't veto. He also said he doesn't like to use that word. I understand his open-minded position, but I disagree with it whole-heartedly for a few reasons. First, it sounds lukewarm and like salt that has lost its taste. There's a reason Bible believers are urged to stick a stake in the ground and choose a position, and I think politically, this is wise strategy. Second, by NOT putting a stake in the ground, Brownback is allowing someone else to set the terms on specific issues. If he says he will veto any legislation that includes, for example, expanding Medicaid, legislators will be forced to attempt to come up with proposals that meet their objectives without doing so. By not establishing strict lines, the other side gets to play offense, and we're standing back defending the goal. (And the other side's power forwards are members of the press, aka good kickers.) So, I hope this strategy of not drawing lines in the sand expires on November 9. The Governor is the ONLY thing standing between taxpayers and an absolute assault on our wallets and values. I'd prefer we use our power forwards instead of pinning all of our hopes on the goal keeper.

6. Other than the Governor and the Lt. Governor, there were zero public officials in attendance. It was a telling example of just how hard elected officials are running as far from the Governor as possible. Electeds are doing their level best to avoid photo ops with the Gov. This is probably politically wise, but it's discouraging. 

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