Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): June 2017

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.