Martin Hawver: Will voters buy ‘road map’?

08/19/2014 7:05 PM

08/20/2014 12:05 AM

Selling an idea worked for Gov. Sam Brownback four years ago. He had a “road map” for Kansas, and the campaign based on that premise got him elected over a meagerly financed opponent.

His initial road map was essentially platitudes: lower taxes, more jobs, third-graders who read better, and there may have been something in there about losing weight and having more good hair days. Everyone was for it. Even Democrats looked at all the stuff Brownback proposed and liked the premise.

That same strategy is apparently on the road again with Brownback’s Road Map 2.0.

So far the map is being released in pieces, and ought to be all wrapped up by the time Brownback and his Democratic challenger, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, meet at the State Fair in Hutchinson for a public debate.

Davis has no road map or real platform yet, but he’s capitalizing on the severe budget crunch that the first road map created. The sharp cut in revenues has squeezed budgets and threatens even more cuts in services to Kansans unless those massive tax cuts suddenly spur new spending and a flood of new non-income-tax revenues to the state’s coffers, as Brownback is hoping.

In small groups and through a massive social media campaign (but so far not much in the way of TV ads), Davis has been telling Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans not to fall for the same general, if updated, campaign again.

It’s uphill for Davis, of course, as there are fewer Democrats than Republicans in Kansas. And though recent polls put Davis ahead this early in the campaign, his key will be to pare off moderate Republicans, warning them that the first road map caused the fiscal problem we’re in now and pointing out that the chance of the second edition working is slim.

That’s why the new Brownback road map will likely be centrist and soft-focus – to provide little traction for Davis’ campaign. Look for pleasantries, goals that everyone can support, and no rearview mirror, because Davis is going to spend much of his time telling Kansans that the first map was off course.

Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. Reach him through www.hawvernews.com.

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