Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): May 2017

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.