Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Conventioneering: Musical Chairs to Continue

Monday, February 13, 2017

Conventioneering: Musical Chairs to Continue

Kansas GOP officials and grassroots people gathered in Manhattan (Mecca) this weekend for the state GOP's annual convention. A lot of people asked why I'm writing less here: You can find me almost daily over at the Sentinel, a fresh news source designed to help keep the mainstream media and legislators accountable. I will be dropping by here a few times per week to dole out the 4-1-1 that, for a variety of reasons, just doesn't fit there. Things like the following:

Musical Chairs Set to Continue

It looked for a moment there like the music had stopped in Kansas. Congressman Mike Pompeo was named intelligence director; Kansas Treasurer Ron Estes has a clear path to win Pompeo's Congressional Chair on April 11, and Derek Kriefels, current President of the State Financial Officers Foundation and a former Assistant State Treasurer, is likely to be tapped as interim Kansas Treasurer. (Update: I'm told the whispers about Kreifels are false.) Or, perhaps, Brownback will name a former office holder who lost his last election. Someone like former Sen. Terry Bruce?

The exciting game of musical chairs is far from over.

As Lee Corso would say: Not so fast, my friend. 

If I were a betting woman, I'd put money on Gov. Brownback announcing his departure before month's end. Word on the street is that he'll be working with refugees from a base in Rome, Italy. (I am so jealous.)

Meanwhile, there's still a chance that Secretary of State Kris Kobach has one foot out the door for a Donald Trump appointment. Some sort of advisory gig? Kobach's people are the most tight-lipped folks in all of Topeka. It's maddening. However, I did hear Kobach's departure to D.C. may be imminent if he can get his wife on board. 

Obviously, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer replaces Gov. Brownback and names his next-in-command. Who Colyer names as his own replacement will be telling. If Colyer names someone like former state Sen. Garrett Love--someone young, upwardly mobile and able to fundraise-- as his Lt. Gov, I think it's safe to say Colyer intends to run for Governor in 2018. However, if he picks a place holder--say some person no one has heard of--I think it's safe to assume Colyer plans to run for the Congressional Third District seat, currently held by Congressman Kevin Yoder.

I don't think Colyer would primary Yoder, but Yoder may be gearing up for a run at the Governorship. For what it's worth, every politician in Kansas, and every human with any kind of name ID is quasi-considering a run at that top gig.) For Yoder, he's likely thinking about being closer to home now that he has two small children. He's also got to be considering the challenging race he'd have in the Third. He'll win of course, if he decides to run for re-election, but the Dems are gearing up to throw everything at him.

So, who will Colyer face in a Third District primary? My guesses include Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer for certain.

Over in the Governor's race, Yoder will face challenges from Wink Hartman, a Wichita businessman; that O'Malley guy (Right. I can't remember his first name either.); Sen. Susan Wagle; possibly Derek Schmidt.

And I haven't even addressed what is causing this second wave of upheaval--we'll call the first wave the Trump Tsunami: The second wave was Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins' announcement that she won't be running for Governor.

So, who will replace her in Congress? That's going to be a very crowded field. Potential candidates include Sen. Jake LaTurner, Sen. Caryn Tyson, Leavenworth DA Todd Thompson, Sen. Vicki Schmidt, and there's always a chance that Alan Cobb, the Trump transition team member who narrowly lost the Fourth Congressional Republican nomination to Ron Estes, may jump into the Second District race. (He lives in Topeka but is from Wichita.) For what it's worth, I think Derek Schmidt chooses to run for Second instead of Governor, which means Thompson will not run. 

That music you hear is another round of musical chairs about to pick up. So keep your ears to the ground and send your 4-1-1 my way!


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