Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): February 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Pair of Brewing Bromances in Kansas Governor's Race?

Heading into the Kansas Republican gubernatorial debate, I was worried the candidates were going to take off the gloves and start slapping one another in the face. Instead, the audience was treated to a pair of brewing bromances.

Word on the street is a few of these candidates might be swiping right and creating teams.

Here's what I've heard: Wink Hartman is set to suspend his campaign, maybe as early as this week, but he may not be out of politics all together once he does.

Meanwhile, Kobach is going to be looking for a number two to share his ticket. The unicorn, Republican lieutenant governor partner is a woman from the Big First Congressional District with elected experience, ag street cred, and a (conservative) voting record. That person is a myth, so Governor candidates will have to settle for someone who ticks only a few of those boxes (or at least someone who can fake it in cowboy boots and a snazzy belt buckle.)

Hartman doesn't have many of the unicorn requirements, but he has the one characteristic key to Kobach's heart: Hartman shares Kobach's values, judging from the Saturday's debate.

As an added benefit to such a ticket, Hartman solves concerns some voters might have about Kobach. Several insiders worry that the Secretary of State is more of a legislator than an executive. Hartman has spent his life as an executive. Hartman's biggest challenge is that he doesn't have the ability to wow a room, a quality Kobach has in spades. Kobach doesn't seem to enjoy fundraising all that much, and Hartman has a giant wallet.

They complement one another well.

Perhaps most importantly, I suspect a lot of hard Kobach supporters would choose Hartman as their second choice, and a lot of Hartman supporters would say Kobach is their second choice. Few of the supporters of either campaign are likely to walk away if they join forces.

If the rumors are true, expect Kobach to make an LG announcement a few weeks from now. 

I'm also hearing rumors that Mark Hutton and Ken Selzer may be eyeing a partnership. I am not hearing as many specifics, so this one doesn't ring quite as true, BUT those two gave each other lots of positive nods during Saturday night's debate. 

If that duo decides to team up, Selzer belongs at the top of the ticket. He has executive experience, and a statewide victory in a crowded Republican primary.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Musical Chairs -- Topeka (And D.C. Style??)

Big announcement coming tonight--Gov. Jeff Colyer will name his number two. 

But a handful of names being tossed around could lead to one of my favorite games: Musical chairs. I don't have any special insider-y knowledge, but I'll share what I'm hearing about where the music might stop.

1. Sen. Rick Billinger -- He's a farmer from the Big First, so almost a unicorn as everyone is looking for an LG who has ties to the Big First. Most would prefer a female, but short of some surgeries and hormone therapies, there aren't too many of those available with the right credentials.

He's from Goodland, where he served on the county commission for a few decades. He served two terms in the Kansas House and is in his first term in the state Senate. To be fair, I've also said he's a Hutton supporter.

If he gets the nod, folks in the 40th Senate District will name his replacement before the end of this session, marking the second statehouse change due to Colyer's ascendency. (The first is Larry Campbell. Campbell was named state budget director and will be replaced by precinct folks in Olathe soon.)

2. Jim McNeice -- He's a member of the Kansas State Board of Education. He checks virtually none of the unicorn boxes. He's male, virtually unknown, and from Wichita. He is a former teacher and principal, so there may be some school lobby excitement at his candidacy. 

I have no idea how state school board members are replaced. If it's anything similar to how local school board members are replaced, the board itself chooses the replacement. In my experience, most boards are really, really bad at this, and I have little hope the state board is any different in that regard.

3. Secretary of Ag Jackie McClaskey--she ticks all the right boxes. Ag background, ovaries, first district, but rumor has it she wasn't interested in the position. Still, Hawver says she's getting the nod. 

If she does, it will be interesting to see who replaces her as the head of Ag. There are a lot of farmer types in the statehouse. 

4. Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins -- This makes ABSOLUTELY no sense to me at all. BUT, her name has come up a few times now. She would've had a clean shot at the Governorship, but she chose not to run. However, LG is a part-time gig, and her resignation from Congress would spark a special election in the 2nd. There are a few reasons some Establishment-types might see that as beneficial. A Republican incumbent would have an easier shot at retaining the seat come November, and precinct people in the 2nd--NOT the primary electorate--would choose the Republican candidate for a special election. That person would then be the frontrunner in the August primary. I *do* think Establishment-types are leery of the choices right now. There are a bunch of candidates in the Republican race, and to date, none have raised nearly the amount of cash Paul Davis has. 

Any of the above would spark a fun game of musical chairs, because replacement candidates for the jobs they're all in likely come from the Kansas Legislature, sparking additional openings. This could be fun!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

One Legislator To Depart for Colyer Appointment

Get ready. One lawmaker is set to be named state budget director tomorrow. I don't have permission to name the person, but it means a JoCo district may be getting a new legislator soon.