Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): 2019

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

What Team Red Can Learn from Team Blue

You know what Dems do better than Republicans? I mean, besides controlling the media and higher education, indoctrinating children in primary schools and being woke? Their party faithful (censored: the less-than-nice names I'd like to add here) pony up $10-$25 individually to help fund their political candidates.

Go look through just about any Democratic candidate's campaign finance filing. You'll find line after line after line of individuals who kicked in small amounts. Obviously, those small dollar donors can add up to a large bucket of money, but as importantly, it gives a psychological edge to the candidate. And the candidate gets a decent news cycle out of it, saying no matter the small amount of dollars on the bottom line, that they have broad support of "the People." 

It takes money to win a campaign, and I would argue for Republicans, it takes more money. Team Red doesn't control the media, and with the exception of President Trump, we don't drive the narrative either. We need cash to push out our message, because we can't count on the Democrats (or our questionable social media skills -- no offense, friends) to get our message to the masses.

So if you have a favorite Republican candidate, or even a least favorite Democrat, reach deep into your wallet, forego a cup of coffee and send a check to your favorite Republican or the opponent of your least favorite Dem. You're helping more than you know.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Jerry Moran Uses the 'G' Word, Signaling Run for Governor

Sen. Jerry Moran came roaring back to the Sunflower State this weekend quasi-inferring he plans to make a run for the state's top job in 2022. He told grassroots Republicans at the annual Olathe Republican Party picnic June 22 that we can't take Kansas for granted after the Kansas Supreme Court invented a right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution.

"...We don't have to go far from home to see why who is Governor and who is deciding about judges is important," Moran said. 

The state's junior Senator, Moran, headed the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2012, and he credited his leadership at the NRSC with helping win back the Senate Majority in 2014. I personally think they have some blood on their hands for the way the NRSC propped up Thad Cochrane, Weekend-at-Bernie's style, to keep Chris McDaniel out of the U.S. Senate.* In Monan's defense, the good guys did take back 9 seats during his NRSC tenure. 

"We now need to focus not only on Washington," Moran told Olathe picnickers on Saturday. "We can't take Kansas for granted. I'm fully committed to working with folks across Kansas who want a different result in 2020 and 2022."

Moran has an uncanny ability to just disappear when the going gets tough only to suddenly reappear someplace else, like Wallace County shaking hands and kissing babies. He sometimes uses his cape of invisibility to conservative advantage. Back in 2003 as a young(er) Congressman, Republican U.S. House leadership tried to strong arm Moran into voting in favor of an expensive, bloated Medicare prescription bill backed by then President George W. Leadership locked down the House in the middle of the night and placed doormen at the exits, preventing "no" votes from leaving the House floor. Moran somehow escaped. It passed the House, without his vote, in the wee hours of the following morning.

His vanishing act was in full force during the 2018 election in Kansas. He refused to endorse, even in the general election. He ALWAYS refuses to publicly endorse, though he'll toss indirect support. Like a magical, invisible cash fairy, Moran sprinkled six figures into various Republican-leaning Kansas PACs in the lead up to the 2018 election.

My guess is he's about reappear and commandeer the Kansas Republican train to ensure Gov. Laura Kelly is a one-termer. I mention all this now for two reasons: 

1. Every breathing Republican within approximately 1,200 miles of Topeka is eyeballing the U.S. Senate seat Pat Roberts is about to vacate. For the record, Washington is about 1,200 miles from Top City. (Ahem. Matt Schlapp. Ahem. Mike Pompeo. Ahem. All the Barcaloungers in Kansas are occupied.)* If Moran decides not to run for a third Senate term, it could relieve some pressure on what is shaping up to be a crowded Republican Senate race in 2020. 

2. Moran would likely clear the Republican field in a 2022 gubernatorial race. I'd gladly board that train.

*Self censored. (I am going to start using asterisks when I stop myself from saying out loud stuff I shouldn't. You're welcome. It makes me feel better. And when I get up to 25 asterisks, I'm going to reward myself. You, too, can feel free to buy me a cookie  -- or something low carb, like an avocado -- as a reward the next time you see me.)

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Page 6 Version of Events and Unsolicited Advice

Last week, some high-ranking House officials and a Medicaid expansion lobbyist stopped for dinner and drinks at White Linen, a hipster restaurant where people with deep pockets and ambitions can snack on cheese and meat charcuterie for $22. The new restaurant probably should've posted a few rules about over-imbibing prior to allowing some of Kansas's high-ranking Republican House leaders in the door. And the elected officials (and lobbyist friend) should have behaved appropriately in public.

But they didn't.

Rest assured, the restaurant's oversight has now been corrected. And here's why:

These House members proceeded to drink way too much and act like fraternity members bellying up to a house party rather than respected government officials. The restaurant manager asked them to leave several times, until finally, a House committee chair (who for now, shall remain unnamed,) apologized and offered the entire restaurant an awkwardly worded a toast.

Fast forward to mere moments after their loud and embarrassing departure. The chefs and owners of the restaurant posted this on their Facebook page:

"Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that we need to be more explicit about our alcohol policies at The White Linen. We want to ensure our guests, who are on their best behaviors, that we will enforce Kansas alcohol laws that require us to refuse to overserve individuals who are visibly intoxicated/incapacitated, and therefore, may not be on their best behaviors. We work diligently to make sure we uphold Kansas laws and that our guests have a great experience in the meantime. We hope our past, current, and future customers can understand our intentions to keep the restaurant a safe and inviting environment and will dine with us with our policies in mind."

Slick burn. 

The people involved were long-serving and powerful state lawmakers. They put White Linen owners (and servers) in an incredibly awkward position, in which they were asked to break Kansas law on behalf of Kansas lawmakers. At worst, it reeks of subtle corruption. At best, it's unbecoming.

Here's my unsolicited advice: Stop treating the Legislature like a college party. When you gavel out for the night or the weekend, get in your car and go home, especially if you have a family and live less than an hour from the Capitol. To paraphrase the great Ted Mosby, nothing good happens after hours. The decisions you make after hours are the wrong ones.

I say this as someone who lives in fear of lawmakers getting conned into something stupid--like Medicaid expansion--because they didn't have the ability to behave themselves in the presence of an expansion lobbyist at The White Linen. Be better.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Third District Horse Race

I have so much information sitting like a vat of soup in my gut, and I want to regurgitate it to the pages of the internet with chunky abandon. Unfortunately, I can't divulge everything I know. (For first time listeners, here's a brief list of reasons why. 1. I worked for Kobach and am loyal to him. 2. I now work for the Sentinel, which means I have to write about a lot of these people, and I'd like people to return my phone calls. 3. I'm no longer anonymous. *Shakes fist at Dems who outed me*).

The good news is, I have a few nuggets I can puke up here. Let's talk Third District, shall we? 

Congresswoman Sharice Davids (stomach heaving) has all the looks of a one termer. Traditionally, Congress people are most likely to lose their first re-election. Things typically get easier after that. And she's a blank slate who really isn't very representative of the district. Lots of politicos (and newcomers) are giving this seat an eyeball, knowing a race against Davids will be challenging but not impossible. (I really, really miss Yoder, but he gone. He's ditched politics for the big bucks. He's a K Street consultant, which is polite-speak for D.C. lobbyist now. I'm glad he found a comfortable spot to land, but I sure wish he was still representing the Third District in Congress.) 

Anyone who listens to her talk for approximately 5 minutes recognizes she's a boat without an oar. She's traveling left, listening to Nancy Pelosi without any real positions. Check out her interview with KCPT's Mike Shanin below. She doesn't answer a single question.

Local politicos believe that it's going to take a set of ovaries to defeat Davids in 2020. Word on the street is that at least two are swinging hats towards the ring. Amanda Adkins is a former chair of the Kansas GOP. She's a VP (or something important) at Cerner. Prior to that gig, she was closely tied to former Gov. Sam Brownback, which might be the kiss of political death in Kansas. Cerner executives typically throw lots of cash at their favorite candidates, and as an Important Person there, the thought is that Adkins would be flush with dollars immediately. However, I'm told today that Cerner feels burned after the last election and won't be quite as generous to candidates this cycle. So, we'll see whether that theory holds.

Meanwhile, newcomer Sara Hart Weir is said to be mulling a run. She got a rock star introduction, speaking at the Kansans for Life Valentine's Day Dinner. She's from Olathe and the President and CEO of the National Down Syndrome Society and as such, I hear she knows all the movers & shakers in Washington. (So... the swamp creatures? Time will tell.)

I've also heard rumors of ovary-impaired folks eyeballing the Third District Congressional seat. Those names include Speaker of the Kansas House Ron Ryckman, former Gov. Jeff Colyer and former insurance commissioner Ken Selzer. Ryckman isn't exactly term limited, but there's a tradition that says his speakership turns into a pumpkin at the end of this term. He's likely looking for a nice landing spot in Kansas politics. I think Colyer's name is likely being tossed around because everyone thinks he's also looking for a landing spot. I don't know how serious those rumors are. I think the Selzer rumors are also just folks talking out of school.

Long term callers know I am reluctant to pick a horse this early in the race. That said, I'd hitch my wagon to any of those horses in the general without batting an eyelash.