Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Return to Ray Merricka?

Ray Merrick has money in his campaign account, and he's bored. That's the answer Merrick gives when asked whether he'll run for the Kansas House in 2018.

Merrick, a Stillwell Republican, served from 2013 to 2017 as Speaker of the Kansas House. He didn't seek re-election in 2016. He was replaced in the House by Rep. Sean Tarwater, who in his first month in office voted for a retroactive tax increase. Tarwater would cast similar votes throughout the 2017 session, culminating in a veto override vote that ripped an extra $1.2 billion from taxpayers' wallets.

The seat, the 27th District,  is a decidely conservative one. His predecessors in the seat include former Reps. Phyllis Gilmore and Charlotte O'Hara.

Merrick's House campaign finance report filed in 2015 showed cash-on-hand of more than $100,000. Tarwater's last report showed $153 cash-on-hand.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Vote for the Non-Hippies

There's a chance conservatives are focusing on the wrong things during this new, fall local election season. Obviously, the Gina Burke-Terry Goodman election is a barn burner. That guy. He's probably going to lose, and it will be his own doing.

However, while conservatives are carefully watching that race, we don't have our eyes on a few races with really unfortunate liberal candidates. 

I'm going to be kind of lukewarm on this whole endorsement thing and tell you that conservatives need to get behind Mandi Hunter for the Shawnee Mission School Board and Dave Janson for Overland Park City Council. 

Hunter and Janson aren't exciting candidates. (Dear friends telling me I HAVE to get people interested in them--it's not that easy. People are interested in the Burke campaign because she's a good candidate and her opponent is acting nutty.)

Opponents of Hunter and Janson aren't acting crazy, but make no mistake: Their opponents are Bernie burnouts who can't tell you which pronoun to use when someone has 'XY' chromosomes. 

Hunter faces Heather Ousley. Her claim to fame is walking every year to Topeka from Shawnee "advocating," because kids in the Shawnee Mission School District have to make do with aquatic centers valued at only $20 million. She is also married to a state legislator. He has a beard. (But can he change a tire? He didn't campaign on it.) She last presided over a hippy drum circle meeting in January in which people explained why they're "woke." (I shudder at playing that fast and loose with the English.) What I am trying to say here is she's super liberal in ways that are uncomfortable for people who don't live in San Francisco. Hunter is the better of the two in the race, so pull the correct lever, Shawnee Mission voters.

Janson is an incumbent on the Overland Park City Council, and that good ol' boy network is turning out to be a bit of an embarrassment. That said, Janson faces Logan Heley, and the Democrats are keen on giving this fraternity bro a platform from which to run for bigger things. (As an aside, I really feel like the political ranks are already too full of fraternity brothers bro-ing. These now deleted tweets aren't all that old.) 

He went to the University of Southern California and that was like last week. He's young, and on LinkedIn, he lists his job as fighting hunger. The only things missing are patchouli incense, and a Nancy Pelosi poster. So, let's just not, OK? Direct your vote in Janson's direction.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Topeka Weinstein-ing

If you heard rumors--LOTS of them--about an individual sexually harassing young ladies to the point he was instructed (per leadership) never to be alone in the room with young women, would you say something? Would you name names? Would you find it acceptable that leadership made such a deal with the devil? 

Asking for a friend.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fish Gotta Swim. Birds Gotta Fly. I Have To Get This Off My Chest

It's shower time. Again. Sigh.

It's also 3:30 a.m. and I am having trouble sleeping. I want to regurgitate the things I know, but I can't and THAT my friends is one of the many reasons I once started an anonymous blog. 

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about the sorry state of the Kansas Republican Party. The GOP holds a LOT of seats in the Kansas Legislature, the entire statewide delegation and every Congressional Kansas seat, but the brand itself is in tatters. (The same can probably be said for the national party.) What does "Republican" stand for? 

Right now, I think the answer is "not Democrat," but the party has a platform with specific things listed. A good third of our elected state legislators probably couldn't tell you anything that's in it, and they certainly don't vote as if they've ever read it. Here's a small taste:

"The judicial branch of our federal government, and that of our state, must recognize that it is a co-equal branch of government, not a super-legislative body...We believe judges should be arbiters of conflict and not policy makers."

How many of our current legislators believe that? Not enough. The Kansas Supreme Court doesn't have the power to appropriate funds, but lawmakers dance whenever the Court says "more." If "provide a suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state" can be translated to mean "give school attorneys all the money," it's only a matter of time before Justices find a phrase in the Kansas Constitution requiring that judicial branch employees receive raises equal to 10 percent of the state general fund each year.

The Kansas Republican Party platform also expressly opposes Medicaid expansion. It reads, "We ask that the Governor and/or legislators refrain from expanding Medicaid and other federal health care programs." About half of the Kansas Republican legislators didn't receive that memo. They're dying to expand Medicaid, even as many privately admit it's terrible policy that will bankrupt the state. 

The platform says Republicans "recognize that prosperity can only be achieved when economic resources remain in the hands of the people." It expressly supports the Fair Tax, which would eliminate individual and corporate income taxes in Kansas. 

"Government should always seek first to constrain its expenditures to the least possible. Increasing the burden on its citizens should be a last resort, and any effort to do so beyond the rate of economic growth should be submitted by a vote of the citizenry."

Of course, we all know what happened last session: Every attempt at finding government efficiencies was scrapped, though many Republicans regurgitate the lie that there just wasn't a penny to be cut anywhere. Legislation to require school districts to use state procurement services for things like technology and to develop a statewide health plan for all school districts--rather than 286 different school district health plans -- were deemed ineffective, because change is scary. 

And then lawmakers dropped NEW spending into the budget. In one example, $2.7 million was drained from a special health plan reserve fund to create a state employee health clinic. That's new spending for something that will compete with the hospital down the street. You'll recall lawmakers spent hours and hours worrying about the fate of St. Francis Hospital and handwringing that they had no choice but to drop the largest tax increase in state history on hard working Kansans. It's revolting.

Here's what's kept me awake tonight: 

Last year about this time, I was in trouble with some party insiders, because a person I nominated for the Eisenhower Series wrote on her Facebook page that a Democratic candidate for state senate was looking for volunteers. She didn't say she was volunteering herself, but the candidate was a personal friend. I assume she was being helpful. I never asked, because I'm not a jerk. I don't think that if I nominate you for something or do something nice for you that I get to tell you what to write on your own Facebook page.

The whole thing caused what I thought was mild drama, which I learned recently a bigger deal than I thought. (Drama is super not my thing. I like to watch it, but I have zero interest in being a party to it.)

I was told I nominated someone who "wasn't a Republican," despite the fact that my nominee was once a sitting council member with a conservative voting record. She never voted for a tax increase, and a good half of the Republican Party can't say that.

Anyway, I was over it, I thought, until I started thinking about what it means to be a Republican. What exactly is our brand?

Does it mean absolute fealty to the party platform? Does it mean some weird sort of loyalty to individuals within the party? If you have a perfect Republican voting record, but say something nice about a Democrat, are you black balled forever? What are the standards? And are the standards different for one person than they are for another?

I don't know the answer to those questions, but I'd be happy to hear your take.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Colyer and the Medicaid Expansion Conundrum

Word on the street is that Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer is ready to cave on Medicaid expansion. This is abject gossip, and I'm putting it here, because someone needs to say it and it looks like no one else will.
(I call this taking one for the team, which means there will be no Miss Congeniality tiaras in my future. Sigh.)

There is no issue more important to the future of Kansas and even the nation right now than Medicaid expansion. I won't bore you with the details of why I believe this to be true. I'll simply say -- getting entwined in a long-term social welfare program is a terrible idea because math. And getting in bed with the federal government for the promise of extra funding never ends well.

Brownback is leaving. Full stop. Unless someone in the Senate digs up a dead puppy scandal, Brownback is headed to Washington to fight for religious freedom. That's probably best for all of us. 

Colyer is going to be the next Governor of Kansas for at least the next year, and if he wants to continue on in the role, he's going to HAVE to distance himself from Brownback. It's an unreasonable demand from a very uneducated public, but it's true. 

Colyer could attempt to step to the right of Brownback, perhaps by limiting some of Brownback's beloved economic development tools, like PEAK and STAR Bonds. But that would mean no ribbon cuttings for things like horse arenas in KCK and medical clinics for state employees in Topeka. (And potentially campaign checks from one of Kansas' biggest companies.) The clinic and the horse arena are already happening, but there are still lots of options, like a southwest Johnson County airport that could mean one of the biggest ribbon cuttings and accomplishments in recent memory. (It.is.killing.me.not.to.write.about.this, but stay tuned.)

The challenge with Colyer stepping to the right of Brownback is a guy named Kris Kobach. Kobach probably has that market all locked up. Colyer is going to have to go big and go Left or go home, and nothing is bigger or lefter than Medicaid expansion. 

Here's the crux: There aren't enough votes to override Medicaid expansion in the Kansas Legislature, but there are more than enough to pass it, and Colyer can allow it to become law without his signature. This is what I've heard he'll do as long as the legislation includes three things. I do not know what those three things are, but that's the rumor. If a Medicaid expansion bill crosses Colyer's desk with the magical three beans (whatever those are) he will allow it to become law without his signature.

I have a theory as to what one of those magic beans is: a federal waiver that would allow Kansas to tie Medicaid to work for able-bodied adults. 

Kansas already has work requirements for its welfare program and that has paid dividends, but Kansas isn't in control of whether the federal government grants such a waiver. That decision is dependent on the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the federal government. Right now, there is no HHS Secretary, because swamp thing Tom Price decided to fly around on private jets drinking champagne instead of riding in steerage on commercial flights. So there's that. But also, there are no guarantees that Republicans will hold the office of President beyond the next three years. Whatever the feds giveth, they can taketh away, and a Democratic President will have zero qualms about yanking Kansas' waiver. 

Colyer has always struck me as very sincere in his distaste for Medicaid expansion, so I hope what I'm hearing is so much idle gossip and a fear of the unknown. Medicaid expansion is bad policy and crippling to Kansas' budget long term. I'm putting this out there so that you, dear voters and activists, can rally your representatives and senators and the LG himself on the off chance there's any truth to the rumors. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Pinch Hitting Guest Post on Race, Voter Fraud, and Dishonest Media

It's Illogical to Call Republicans Nazis

By: Anonymous

Racist: A person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.

The media, along with liberals and moderate republicans, do everything in their playbook to paint conservatives like Donald Trump as racist. They try to tie conservative ideals and policy to racism, and even worse to the Nazi party. In fact, they use the term racist so often that the term itself begins to lose meaning.

The requirement of photo ID to vote is painted as a racist policy. Why? Because the media and liberals have this outdated belief that someone a black person is either too poor or too uneducated to obtain a photo ID? That belief is more racist than having a policy in place that protects the vote of a person regardless of their race.

Kansas requires photo ID to vote, but unlike many other states, Kansas does not ask what someone’s race is when they register to vote. Why? Simply put, your race is irrelevant when it comes to your right to vote.

Requiring proof of citizenship to vote is apparently racist. Why? Because the media and left believe that a black person is too poor or uneducated to have access to their birth certificate. But they ignore the fact that if they wanted to follow through on their argument of someone being too poor or uneducated, the likelihood of that person living in the same state as they were born in is extremely high. Therefore that person wouldn’t even need to find their birth certificate, because if you were born in Kansas, the state is able to verify your citizenship for you for the purpose of voting.

Now, let’s move on to the charge of conservatives being Nazis. If the media and liberals would truly do their research, they would realize that a core belief of the Nazi Party was “common good before individual good.” That common theme is much closer to the platform of Bernie Sanders than of any conservative Republican.

Germany, under Hitler’s leadership, not only killed millions of Jews, they killed those the weakest among society. Similarly to those who believe we have the right to kill unborn children, which is eerily close to the praise the media gives to Iceland for nearly “eradicating” Down’s syndrome through abortion.

Hitler believed that any income that does not come from work, shall be abolished, therefore all financial trusts should become property of the government. This culminated in the punishment of death for anyone who did not work for the common good of the people. In other words, anyone who put their rights above the government’s was to be killed. And that right there, is one reason Hitler had a hatred for Jews. Yes, they were a different race, but many were the bankers and the wealthy in pre-WWII Germany. And the only way that Hitler would be able to have any power would be to eradicate those who held the ideal of individual rights above the idea that a government founded on the common good would give to a leader like Hitler.

The idea that a conservative, someone who is for individual rights and limited government, is somehow a Nazi or a racist is not only wrong; it is illogical.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Quick Gossip Drop

By now, everyone knows Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer is in the race for Governor. He joins Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, the guy from Prairie Village (or someplace), former GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Barnett--aka, the guy campaigning as the Democrat in the Kansas Republican primary. Meanwhile, odds are Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will also enter the race, and he'll be an incumbent when he does.

Selzer filed paperwork last Friday to appoint a campaign treasurer. Why he opted to file on a Friday afternoon in August -- the time most likely to escape anyone's attention--is anyone's guess. Is his candidacy supposed to be a stealthy one?

Word on the street is prior to the filing, Selzer had a little pow-wow with former state Rep. Mark Hutton and House Speaker Ron Ryckman. The meeting was to determine which of the three should run for Governor. I like Selzer. Nice guy, but I put his odds of winning a crowded Republican primary for the state's top job right up there with my chances of winning the lottery. 

There's a chance, but it's a slim one. Knowing that Selzer may have been in cahoots with Hutton, who thinks giving someone a tax cut of less than $25,000 is worthless, isn't a point in Selzer's favor. 

But I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe Selzer doesn't realize that Hutton earns his living off the taxpayers in the form of government building contracts. Maybe Selzer doesn't realize that the former state representative thinks $1,000 is better spent by the government than by a small business owner. (See Hutton's baffling understanding of economics in the Wichita Eagle circa September 2016.) 

The closed door meeting between Selzer, Ryckman, and Hutton was followed by polling commissioned by Ryckman. The poll was to determine how bad that tax vote hurt the Speaker. Judging from the fact that Selzer emerged as "the candidate," I'm going to read some tea leaves, here: That vote to heap on Kansans a massive retroactive tax hike was about as popular as drowning puppies. 

Republicans are fortunate in that we have an extraordinarily deep bench--one that even includes Democrats (Looking at you, Barnett!). But, every Republican entering the race at this point is simply helping Kobach secure the nomination. If that is the Selzer-Ryckman-Hutton plan, they are likely to call it a success come August 2018.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Pardon Me While I Clear Up Some Kobach Speculation

Politico and some other gossip mongers (pot, meet kettle) are suggesting Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a possibility to replace Gen. John Kelly at Department of Homeland Security. Kelly started today as President Donald Trump's Chief of Staff leaving a gaping hole at the top of DHS.

In Politico's world, that means, "It may set the stage for a brutal confirmation fight if President Donald Trump tries to replace the retired Marine general with an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration instead of a seasoned bureaucrat or lawmaker." (I will spare you my very not-nice thoughts on seasoned bureaucrats and lawmakers. But ewww.)

I feel REALLY confident in saying the chances of Kobach accepting such a nomination when he's already announced his intention to run for Kansas Governor is about as likely as a man giving birth to a child. (Sorry. Not sorry.)  Kobach has a pretty clear path to the Republican nomination for Kansas Governor. For a lot of reasons, I don't see Kobach stepping out of that race. I have no special insider knowledge, but I have common sense.

Kobach is in the process of building a house--in Kansas. He has a wife and a lot of young daughters. I don't see them just picking up and moving to the swamp right now. There's also the not inconsequential Senate confirmation requirement. With Republicans like John McCain, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, I don't think Kobach's confirmation would be assured. Kobach isn't politically stupid. Why risk the damage when he can hang among his Kansas fans?

Kobach was in the Sunflower State all weekend. He stopped in at the Douglas County Republican Party picnic and gave his Governor campaign speech. 

The speculation about Kobach accepting a nomination to DHS is a whole lot of wishful thinking. Like the idea of a man giving birth, liberals in the media believe if they have enough feelings maybe they can make it so. Politico and the Washington Post and the Kansas City Star, are doing everything they can to capsize Kobach's gubernatorial run. The fact that they are giddy about the DHS nomination proves as much. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Incoming! A No Good, Very Bad, Head Desk Plan

Dear Friends, 

Please read this post from the comfort of your safe space, because it's going to be a bit critical of our team. I've been holding off on writing this, but it's tickling my brain so much I can't sleep. Apologies in advance.

Here goes:

Someone, somewhere has hashed a plan for the Second Congressional District. It's perhaps the dumbest thing I've heard in quite some time, and I watch CBS This Morning every weekday, so I hear a lot of dumb daily.

Conservative, Republican strategists have dreamt up a fail safe plan to turn the Second District blue. This plan is like a monkey humping a football--nothing good is created by the act, and the end result is a big old mess that embarrasses everyone who sees it.

Currently, Lynn Jenkins represents Kansas' Second Congressional District. She announced earlier this year that she'll abdicate the throne, leaving an opening for some savvy pol to move to the swamp. To date, Kansas State Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a Leavenworth Republican, has tossed his hat into the ring. His hat won't be lonely for long. Sen. Caryn Tyson, a Republican from Parker, is likely to announce some day soon as well. And I keep hearing Sen. Dennis Pyle is also considering his options. Tyson, Pyle, and Fitzgerald hail from the conservative side of the Republican Party. (I'm a fan.) Other Republicans likely to announce their candidacy: Todd Thompson, the Leavenworth County District Attorney, potentially Vicki Schmidt, and probably some candidate dredged up by Has-Beens. (I don't have an inside man with those folks, so your guess is as good as mine.)

The Dems will run former gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis, and some conservative strategists are working to draft another conservative candidate, because the "optics" of a race between an old white guy (sorry, Fitzgerald and Pyle) and Davis look bad. I still can't figure out how the optics of a woman (Tyson) against old white man Davis are bad. I think the "strategists" worry that Fitzgerald, Pyle, or Tyson are not easily controlled.

So they've drafted Rep. Kevin Jones, a conservative Republican from Wellsville. And guys, here's why this post hurts: I like almost all of these candidates, a lot. But I think Jones' chances of winning are about as high as the chances that I'll deliver sextuplets in Gardner Lake while surrounded by sharks.

Jones is an attractive guy with great values and a family made for political post cards, but he's not ready. He had an entire session to make a name for himself, and he didn't. According to rumor, the strategists believe Jones probably won't win, but he'll begin building name recognition for some other run somewhere down the line. Meanwhile, the strategists will groom Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner to run against Davis in 2020. Seriously, that's the plan: Lose the Second District so LaTurner can run when he's ready in 2020. (I hear LaTurner has no part in this plan.)

Guys, this is an awful, horrible, no good, very bad and baffling plan. Already, there's one conservative in the race--Fitzgerald--and without any strategizing, there is likely to be a second--Tyson. So why on earth would anyone draft a third one with a goal of losing?

If these strategists want to field a LaTurner candidacy, then do it now. Do not wait for 2020 and ruin Republican chances in 2018. 

Surely, I'm not the only person on the planet who remembers how impossible it was to unseat Congressman Dennis Moore. The only reason we have a Republican representing the Third District right now is a neurodegenerative disease, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. 

There's no reason to believe that beating Davis in 2020 would be a walk in the park, even if LaTurner is fresh off a statewide Treasurer tour giving away found money. 

If I knew for certain exactly who these strategists were, I would say something privately. And if I had only heard this rumor once or twice, I'd think someone was just planting stories. BUT I keep hearing it. And I've been asking around, and no one is denying it. 

I have no idea who the coach of the Kansas conservatives is, but apparently, tight coaching shorts are preventing blood flow to the brain.

With sincerest apologies for the graphic mental pictures this post may provoke and for saying harsh words about our team, 


P.S. I forgot to add this helpful nugget on first pass: Kansas may lose a Congressional seat come 2022 after reapportionment. (Thanks, tax increasers, for helping Missouri gain a Congressional seat.) If that occurs, a theoretical Congressman Paul Davis could be in the position to take out another Republican officeholder in a race between incumbents in 2022.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Surprise Guest at Olathe Republican Party Picnic

Several lawmakers failed to make appearances at the Olathe Republican Party picnic, but there was one surprise attendee. (The missing included quite a few Olathe Republican state legislators. What could have kept them away? I wonder.)


Anyway, there were a few unusual guests at the annual picnic: the media, who apparently is just following Kris Kobach around seeking protesters and/or Kobach gaffes. Neither put in an appearance. 

Another unusual guest? Ken Rahjes. Rahjes represents the 110th district in the Kansas House. He lives in Agra, Kansas, a long, long way from Olathe for those keeping count. Mapquest tells me it's about a 4.5-hour drive.

In 2015, Precinct committee men and women in the 110th district selected Rahjes to replace Travis Couture-Lovelady, famed-hatmaker/legislator-turned-NRA-lobbyist. 

At the time, Rahjes was considered the less-conservative of three candidates. He was elected to retain the seat in 2016, and his voting record is fairly conservative. For some baffling reason, he voted for the initial retroactive tax bill back in February, before reversing course and voting against the eventual tax increase that Brownback vetoed. He also voted against overriding the Governor's veto. (As an aside, his son worked for the Roger Marshall campaign. Ask me about that time the boys from the Marshall campaign beat me with their snobbery at a Yoder campaign event last fall. But that's all beside the point of this writing.)

So... what was a western Kansas pol doing at an Olathe Republican Party event? Clearly, planning to run for something. What? I don't know. I asked. He didn't answer. I'll just say, I'd play poker with that guy any day of the week.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Olathe Republican Party Picnic This Weekend

Prepare for so many boat shoes. Sigh.

The Olathe Republican Party Picnic kicks off this weekend. Hundreds of Republicans will descend on Cedar Lake, and far too many of them will be wearing boat shoes.

Because half of the world has already declared an intent to seek the Republican Party nomination for Governor in 2018, it should be an interesting affair. Candidates Wink Hartman and Kris Kobach will likely put in appearances. I highly doubt Jim Barnett and Ed O'Malley--the guys campaigning kind of like Democrats in the race attend. Olathe is an extremely conservative town and the Olathe Republican Party reflects that bent. Ed and Jim would be virtual aliens among the crowd. It will be fascinating to see which legislators show up. I anticipate a chilly reception for those who voted for that monstrous tax increase (complete with new spending and a busted budget by year 3!!)

At least one legislator, Keith Esau, is expected to announce his candidacy for Secretary of State. I'm told he won't be the only one making surprise announcements. (If I knew what the other announcements would be, I'd tell you.)

The Olathe Republican Party was one of the first things I blogged about when I started this little project. Here's what I wrote back in 2012:

Almost everyone there will be involved in a campaign for one or more candidates and everyone will be throwing around titles. Introductions will include full resumes. "Hi, I'm the (volunteer coordinator/communications director/campaign manager/candidate) for candidate X.I graduated cumma sum laude from University Y. I am the former city council member from Z and served on the Governor's Committee for a Better America. Stop by my booth/wear my sticker/take a yard sign."
Not much has changed, though the location is different. Because it's not an election year, some elected officials are skipping out. I hear Congressman Yoder is taking a pass as is Sen. Jerry Moran. (I'm sure Sen. Roberts has attended in the past--probably back when he was in his 40s, so... awhile ago. I don't anticipate seeing him tomorrow.)

As usual, most of the people who attend will be weirdos. Sorry friends. I'm including myself in that mix. Regular voters-- people who don't spend good parts of every day thinking about political stuff--are unlikely to be there. And since Yoder and Moran are skipping the event, we can hope that the protesting hippies in genital hats will skip, too.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Justice Department Vetting Kansans for Trump Appointments

Most of the buzz in Kansas is about a potential Gov. Brownback appointment. However, Brownback isn't the only Kansan being vetted for a potential presidential appointment. (BTW, sources tell me the background investigation into the Governor for potential appointment as the Ambassador for Religious Freedom is complete.)

Meanwhile, investigators are parsing through the background of Stephen McAllister, a University of Kansas law dean. Others discussed and scrapped for the position of U.S. Attorney (for this district) include former state Sens. Jeff King and Terry Bruce as well as an assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi.

On paper, McAllister appears to have most of the credentials necessary to serve in the role. He has Republican street cred--having served as a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice. They are Presidential political appointees, and many are appointed based on the recommendation of U.S. Senators (and other politicians) from those states.  U.S. Attorneys are part of the U.S. Justice Department and are responsible for prosecuting federal cases--many of them criminal. McAllister's criminal law experience seems light.

However, that's not the biggest challenge for the law professor-possibly turned-political climber. McAllister has a bit of a gray ethics history, if a newsletter KU law students once published is to be believed.

The newsletter theorized that McAllister hired his girlfriend--now wife--for a part time job at the university and gave her full time pay. This was years ago, and McAllister swung back hard at the allegations of public corruption.

He told the Lawrence Journal-World in 2004 that the students spread "extraordinary lies" about him and his wife. 

"The maturity level this sort of behavior represents is more typical of a high school, or perhaps even a junior high school, than a graduate level professional school that aspires to be one of the top 25 law schools," he told the paper.

Oddly, the Journal-World didn't actually list the students' accusations or quote from the newsletter. 

Having people above reproach serving as U.S. Attorneys in the Justice Department has never been more important. There are questions about how Loretta Lynch ran the department, and obviously you can't throw an elbow without hearing about former FBI Director James Comey. (The FBI is the investigative arm of the Justice Department.)

The good news is if there is indeed questionable conduct in McAllister's past, the vetting process, which involves the FBI, should shake out any potential gray areas. Time will tell.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mainstream Coalition Thinks the Middle Is the Far Left

If you were to place the members of the Kansas Legislature on a spectrum from the political left to the political right, House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, would likely be on the far left. 

So it was refreshing to see the Mainstream Coalition flaunting its leftist ways. The organization says its members work to take "Kansas back from extremists and their ideologies." Apparently, in the Mainstream Coalition world, political extremists only come from the right.

So yesterday, the "Mainstreamers" gathered to spread their special brand of nonsense. (I believe it's something about how Christians should just shut up about their faith. School children should pledge their allegiance to fighting climate change, and Kansans should just hand over their wallets.) Anyway, they gathered.

Mainstream Coalition members gather.

And they took pictures, so regular Kansans could get a feel for exactly which side of the political spectrum the "mainstreamers" think is mainstream.

That would be Jim Ward, who posted several photos to his campaign Facebook page. The photos reveal several so-called Republicans (and liberal lobbyists) essentially campaigning with the Democratic Minority Leader of the Kansas House.

It's important to note that America is a center-right nation. Gallup says so about once per year. Other than the Presidency, Democrats have been losing Governships, statehouses, and Congressional seats for a few decades. So those folks who think the middle falls over to the far left by Jim Ward are laboring under a misconception. 

It wasn't all that surprising to see Sen. Barbara Bollier or Rep. Melissa Rooker gathering with Ward and Democrat Brett Parker. Bollier and Rooker's constituents know that they vote more often with the Democrats than the Republicans. It was, however, stunning to see Reps. Tom Cox, Patty Markley, Joy Koesten and Sen. Dinah Sykes. I'm fairly certain their districts didn't realize they were voting for leftists.

Thanks to Ward, though, voters now have photographic evidence of their Republican representatives campaigning with Democrats (and a taxpayer funded school lobbyist.)

The Republicans who attended this Democratic campaign event have the good graces to be a little embarrassed. Their (Democratic) allies are melting down over the fact that anyone would mention the fact that they campaigned with Democrats. The optics on this one are terrible, and the campaign literature almost writes itself.

So thank you, those who photographed the event. Actual Republicans owe you one. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Why the Bad Kansas Budget and Tax Votes Are So Diabolical

I've been working my hardest to work up a healthy dose of forgiveness and understanding for those who voted to take an extra $600 out of the pockets of the average Kansas family to feed a bloated government, but I'm having trouble. 

It's not the $600. I mean, sure, that hurts. I am working hard to save for my own retirement--without the help of anyone "matching" my contributions or handing me a pension. I have been busting my behind to put money in savings, because I know the tax man is going to absolutely cripple me next year as an independent contractor. But, because I am fiscally responsible, I should weather the extra $600 with only minor damage.

The biggest beef I have with those supposed conservatives who voted for the tax increase and a bloated budget (to give their lobbyist friends favors, no less!!) is that they didn't damage only MY pocketbook and the finances of their friends and neighbors in Kansas. The damage is nationwide.

By acquiescing to the demands of a massive tax increase while ADDING new spending to the budget, these squishes damaged the very core of conservatism--the idea that small, efficient government provides more opportunities and more liberty for all. History and economics tell us this is true, no matter what the mainstream media reports. Liberty lovers and conservatives ARE fighting a battle against a fully socialized U.S., and the people who voted for this tax bill and the budget that increases spending basically picked up their weapons to fight against us. 

There's no excuse, but I'm happy to recount a few of the excuses so-called Republicans are using to explain their votes:

Several say Gov. Sam Brownback refused to sign any legislation that could pass with 63 votes--the number necessary to pass legislation in the House. Of course, this is hearsay on the part of "conservatives" now saddled with ugly, ugly votes on their records. Voting for that nonsense was "governing." 

We don't really know what Brownback would sign or allow to become law. Rumor has it, House negotiators floated several plans to the Governor that he said he would sign and that would reach the 63-vote threshold. Word on the street is that the Governor then changed his mind and told negotiators he wouldn't vote for it. What are these so-called plans? Who knows. These supposed plans were shrouded in darkness, never to see the light of day.

House leadership could have called Brownback's bluff--if, in fact, such a thing occurred. Voters will never know, because the House never voted on those items or spoke about them publicly. And now, those bad voters have the gall to be irritated that many grassroots people just aren't buying their story. It's odd that every liberal suggestion--like voting on schools and taxes before voting on budget--didn't just make it to the floor, but became reality. 

There are legislators saying they cast to override the Governor's veto as a favor to leadership. They should be embarrassed that they're saying such things out loud. It's shameful. Peer pressure may be a halfway reasonable excuse for 12-year-olds, but it's gross on adults. These votes for further bloating the state budget and for saddling Kansans with higher taxes retroactively were votes that should have been based on principle. The people who voted in favor of the tax and budget plan clearly lack principle in favor of small government and personal liberty. 

Plenty of legislators are also saying voters sent them to Topeka to provide a structural fix for the budget. The problem here is that this budget and tax plan don't do that. We're getting a retroactive tax increase and for what? A pittance of the new spending will go to schools--I'm not advocating that it should be more, but a whole lot of people campaigned on puffing up school budgets. Even worse, all of the one-time fixes that these turn coats blasted will continue with this budget and tax plan. You're paying $600 more, average Kansas family, and guess what? The budget STILL defers payments to KPERS and "robs" the Kansas Department of Transportation. 

Still another handful of legislators who voted for this train wreck did so because they have higher political aspirations, and in their twisted minds, this vote to punish taxpayers and appease the KNEA, corporate lobbyists, and the Kansas Contractor's Association, was "leadership." I almost feel sorry for those folks, because the Leftist, Socialists they worked so hard to appease will never support them long term. When those so-called Republicans reach for the next rung on the political ladder--whatever that may be--the Republican base will turn their backs, and it's laughable to believe the Leftists will hop on board. (And there aren't enough independents or "moderates" to pull off a statewide election. See Greg Orman, circa 2014, and that's DESPITE the Democrat leaving the field. There also aren't enough "moderates" or Dems in an election for most Congressional seats--one of which Kansas will likely lose in 2022, thanks in part, to this tax and budget plan.) 

And a special personal note for the politically ambitious: The fight for small and limited government and freedom is bigger than you. Whether you somehow successfully manage to overcome that awful vote and find higher office, no one is going to remember your name when you're long gone. They will, however, have to live with the damage your bad votes created. This budget and tax fight was NEVER about you personally, and in those quiet moments when you think it might be, stop it. The fight for freedom is bigger than you.

It's right and just for conservatives to feel absolutely duped by a lot of our legislators. The good news is grassroots people are working even today to find good candidates to challenge every candidate who voted for that bloated budget and punitive tax plan. Word on the street is even those legislators who once boasted high freedom index scores won't be absolved for their part in this back stabbery to the base. 

The better news is that when those primary and general elections roll around, taxpayers will have been noticeably hit with tax increases three times leading up to the next election. Taxpayers will notice their paychecks are smaller after July 1. They'll be hit again come January 1, 2018, when an even higher tax rate takes effect. They'll be hit a third time when it's time to pay their taxes next April. The retroactive nature of the tax increase, means employers have been withholding less than necessary for the first six months of this year. A whole lot of taxpayers are going to have to write a check to the state of Kansas next year. Some won't have the money to write that check. It will be a public relations nightmare for anyone saddled with those votes. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Will Merrick Run?

Now that Kansas legislators stuck a knife in the back of Kansas families, it appears at least one conservative stalwart may be lacing up his running shoes to right the ship.

Former Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick told a crowd at the grand opening of the Johnson County Republican Party headquarters that he hasn't ruled out returning to the Kansas House.

Merrick didn't seek re-election in 2016, and today, the 27th District is represented by Sean Tarwater. Tarwater's voting record is significantly more liberal than his district. His predecessors, Merrick, former Reps. Jeff Colyer, and Charlotte O'Hara, are significantly to the right of Tarwater.

In Tarwater's first month in office, he voted for a retroactive tax increase. He voted to override the Governor's veto of that tax increase, and he voted for the enormous $1.2 billion tax increase that will cost the average Kansas family an extra $600 per year. Despite the tax increase, the budget will be busted in two years, because Tarwater (and others) voted to balloon spending along with the tax hike.

Voters in the 27th District are likely anxious to find a representative that more accurately reflects their positions on small government and fiscal responsibility. Merrick, it appears, may answer that call.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Fly in the Kansas Political Ointment

Sen. Pat Roberts is going to run again for U.S. Senate. Sigh. I hold out almost zero hope that Roberts will hang up his hat and ride into the Kansas sunset. 

I don't want to belabor this point too long, but I like Sen. Roberts for the most part. What I don't like is a ruling class that plays by different rules than the rest of us. And that's the sort of thing you get when you have people who run for Congress, move to Washington, and stay there for longer than I've been alive. 

However, the writing is on the wall: The indications that Roberts plans to run AGAIN are everywhere. 

Exhibit A: As I reported several months ago, Roberts purchased a house in Topeka. If you'll recall, a major campaign issue in 2014 was the Roberts La-Z Boy Scandal. You'll recall his opponent made a lot of hay out of the fact that Roberts didn't actually live in Dodge City, but rented a recliner from a friend when he was in town. Head desk. (Seriously, out here in the place where Kansans actually live, renting a recliner and pretending to "reside" in Kansas was total amateur hour. That dog wasn't going to hunt for very long if anyone ever decided to make an issue of it.) 

I haven't heard yet whether he's moved any recliners to the new Roberts' house, but I have a hard time believing he plans to retire in the Kansas Capital City.

Exhibit B: I keep hearing whispers that Roberts is quietly supporting Secretary of State Kris Kobach's run for Governor. Now, why would the Roberts' team be quietly intimating that they're all-in for a Kobach run? I'll explain: Almost no one in Kansas has the nerve to challenge Roberts in a Republican primary. As the current Don of the Kansas GOP, most name brand Republicans aren't going to risk having a horse head in their beds by running against Roberts in a tight race. There's also a school of thought that says Roberts can't lose, because he's chair of the ag committee, and it's difficult for me to gauge just how much the Big First is willing to overlook for a Senator sitting in that position.  I think a name brand Republican could beat Roberts, but the only one with the stones to chance it is Kobach. (There are a lot of Republicans who think Kobach is probably lying awake nights kicking himself for staying out of the 2014 Republican primary for U.S. Senate.) 

Roberts acknowledging that he plans to run in 2020 is rippling throughout the 2018 race. Those rumors about Congressman Kevin Yoder potentially running for Governor are precisely because it appears the 2020 race for Senate is over before it starts. (Yoder isn't going to run for Governor, but he was considering it, and getting that short guy at the KC Star to write a glowing column about the possibility to test the waters.)

With Yoder likely out of the Governor's race (and Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins bowing out for love or whatever), word on the street is that Roberts is quietly encouraging Kobach to run for the Kansas executive position. Kobach and Roberts are odd bedfellows, but if Kobach manages to win the Governor's race, Roberts has effectively cleared his own field. For what it's worth, the Republican primary to date already includes Wink Hartman, a Wichita business man. Some guy from Prairie Village whose name I can't remember is having a series of exploratory town hall meetings to see if he should run. So... that guy's running.

While we're on the topic, the DailyKos says Independent  Democrat Greg Orman will run as an independent for Kansas Governor. This means whichever Republican manages to win the Gubernatorial primary will be the next Governor. When Orman announces, someone from the Kansas GOP ought to send him a thank you note.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Capitol Shenanigans

Congratulations, Kansans! You may be getting a walloping tax increase come tomorrow. 

I'm just going to run down the rumors in advance so everyone gets a warm fuzzy about the heinous deals being closed behind closed doors.

Word on the street is that Senate President Susan Wagle is in a mad dash to find two votes for whatever nauseating tax increase manages to reach the Senate floor. 

Rumor suggests it will STILL be a retroactive tax increase phased in over two years. (So the first year is slightly LESS of an increase, because it's a real jerk head Jones move to surprise people halfway through the year with a tax increase on income they already took home and spent on pizzas and utility bills. If they spent any of it on luxury items--like movie tickets, restaurants, or vacations--they should be ashamed. The CHILDREN need that money.) 

Most people believe Wagle is still one vote short of the votes necessary to get that pile of regurgitation around the Governor's veto pen. 

So, savvy voters, watch for flip-floppers--those people who voted against overriding the Governor's veto last go around who are now suddenly on board with an increase. Someone promised those folks something. My guess is coveted seats on conference committees. Apparently, some conference committee appointments changed today.

Sources tell me Wagle is still one vote short, but that's assuming she votes against a massive tax increase. She's all but announced her intention to run against Congressman Ron Estes in 2018. That's the most conservative district in the state, and I'm positive the people there would not take kindly to a candidate who voted to heap new taxes on everyone who earns more than $30K.

No one knows how the new guy, Richard Hilderbrand, will vote. He replaces Senator-turned-state-treasurer Jake LaTurner. LaTurner was a solid vote to uphold Gov. Brownback vetoes, and Hilderbrand was his chosen replacement. 

Sen. Denning will vote with the herd this time, though he voted against overriding the Governor's veto last time. Sources also say Richard Wilborn of McPherson will flip. I am curious what he was promised in exchange for selling Kansas down the river. If anyone hears, let me in on the secret!

Meanwhile over in the House, newbies are telling people they recognize voting for a huge tax increase probably means they won't get re-elected. This is true in most cases. No one with any sense, morals, or principles campaigns on raising taxes on the poorest among us, but that's what is likely to happen.

The truly disturbing and baffling thing is I'm hearing VERY little in the way of actual details. I hear there will be a third tax bracket on top of the two existing brackets. I'm hearing retroactively. What I'm not hearing? Actual numbers. So a whole bunch of people are dead set on raising your taxes no matter what the numbers say. They are disgusting, and their primary base of support are people wearing inappropriate costumes of human organs in the streets. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Farewell Party for Gov. Brownback in the Works

While everyone is still quietly wondering whether Rome beckons Gov. Brownback to the east, a party at Cedar Crest is quietly in the works.

Former Brownback staffers from his days in the U.S. House and Senate are invited. Many are making plans to stop through Kansas and make an appearance. Former staffers from his first term as Governor will attend. The big event is set to occur soon at Cedar Crest, the Governor's residence.

No one is calling it a farewell party, but it certainly sounds a lot like one. If I liked to waste money betting on things, I'd place a chunk of change on the Governor stepping aside once this session is over. 

All of you legislators breathlessly awaiting his departure can speed it along by wrapping things up. As you consider that, please note that in my opinion, he's sticking around long enough to make sure you don't ruin everything. So, make some decent decisions to wrap up the session and you will likely find yourselves starting anew with a fresh face behind the veto pen.