Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): A Fly in the Kansas Political Ointment

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.

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