Election – Gov. Sam Brownback got what he wanted from Kansas voters: the potential of a much more conservative state Senate. The likelihood of a one-party Legislature does not bode well for true debate on important issues. The risk is the Legislature becomes an echo chamber for views backed by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers.
Kansas City Star
If the Republican primary election in Kansas was indeed a referendum on Gov. Sam Brownback’s policies, the results left little doubt about the strength of his mandate. Conservatives swept one moderate Republican state senator after another out of office. In the process, they demolished the coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats that has been the only brake on what is now a conservative juggernaut.
The Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity was quick to portray Tuesday’s conservative victory as a shift in Kansas Republican values and a blanket endorsement of the governor’s current direction. But with the governor’s approval rating in the state standing at around 35 percent in recent polls, is that really the case? Do a majority of Kansas Republicans support the conservative agenda or did moderate Republicans simply fail to vote?
The real issue ahead will be justice. Can the conservatives govern without exacerbating the inequity between the many in the working and middle classes, and the few who own the largest corporations in our midst? Can the conservatives govern without contributing to the disadvantages of the disabled, the elderly and the disenfranchised poor? Can the conservatives govern without undermining the school system that is trying to prepare the workers and entrepreneurs of the future, and is one of the significant remaining assets of rural Kansas?
Winfield Daily Courier
Voter ID – This election, there was just a touch of the ludicrous about voting. You walk in, perhaps are greeted by name, then are asked to tell the election officials your name and address. Then you are asked, by people who probably know your dog’s name, for your photo ID. Not a big deal, just a tad silly. We worry that there are more people entitled to vote who are being denied that right because of a kink in the bureaucracy than there were people casting fraudulent votes. Making it harder for citizens to vote is not always a good idea.
Kobach’s PAC – Kansans would erupt in outrage if it was discovered that the referee for a major football or basketball game between two rival schools held a vested interest in one of the competing programs. Yet Kansans tolerated far worse this election, as the state’s “referee” of elections, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, doled out thousands of dollars through his Prairie Fire political action committee to those candidates he hoped would emerge victorious.
KPERS – News that the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System can be accessed by those who don’t meet the eligibility requirements gives Kansans reason to wonder what is going on at that organization. State officials say there’s no “wiggle room” in Kansas statutes that would allow a former employee to purchase a year of eligibility. Obviously, KPERS officials think the “wiggle room” is there and have been using it for years. Legislators should take up the issue in January and draft a law that leaves no room for conflicting interpretations, or “wiggling.”