Friday, October 31, 2014

Voters bounce state, federal hopefuls

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 8/6/2014

Sam Brownback might need to worry.

Facing an increasingly popular Democrat challenger in the general election, the incumbent governor sailed through the Republican primary Tuesday — but not without exposing a significant drop in support from within his own party.

Sam Brownback might need to worry.

Facing an increasingly popular Democrat challenger in the general election, the incumbent governor sailed through the Republican primary Tuesday — but not without exposing a significant drop in support from within his own party.

Jennifer Winn, a Wichita-area entrepreneur and a low-profile, low-funded candidate in the Republican primary, was able to steal 37 percent of the statewide vote from Brownback without much campaigning. In Franklin County, where Winn attended a July 22 Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce candidate forum, she nabbed 40 percent of the vote.

Democrats have already jumped on the opportunity to point out unrest within the Republican Party. And while Winn failed to nab the GOP nomination, a challenger with deeper pockets and a wider swath of support sits between Brownback and re-election. Unlike Winn, Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat and House minority leader, has been heavily campaigning against the incumbent for about a year.

Davis didn’t mention the results of the Republican primary Wednesday, but said he and his running mate, Jill Docking, a Wichita businesswoman, hope to bring a bipartisan campaign to victory in November.

“Kansans are deeply concerned about the direction Sam Brownback is taking our state. But we can set things right in November,” Davis said. “Jill and I will bring Kansans of all political parties together to focus on commonsense solutions that strengthen Kansas businesses and schools while reducing taxes for Kansas families. We will fight to again make Kansas public schools our state’s top priority.”

After winning the Republican nomination Tuesday, Brownback hit back at Kansas Democrats, saying they would rather model the state after President Obama’s Washington than rely on Kansas values like his.

Brownback dismissed claims his leadership during his first term has failed, saying Kansas is on the right track.

“Kansas is making a comeback,” Brownback said, according to the Topeka Capital Journal. “For decades, our state was on a slow decline. Those days are over. There is more work to be done before the comeback is complete.”

Secretary

of State

In another contentious Republican primary, incumbent Kris Kobach defeated moderate Republican Scott Morgan for secretary of state, securing 65 percent of the vote. Morgan repeatedly criticized Kobach’s proof of citizenship law while he was campaigning, but was unable to find the votes to remove Kobach from office.

Morgan was in high hopes the day after the election, he said, because he thinks his campaign has brought the proof-of-citizenship issue to the forefront of public discussion. During the campaign, Morgan said about 18,000 Kansans remain unregistered to vote because of the law.

“This was never going to be easy and it was never going to be quick. You can say, ‘But we lost,’ but you would be missing what we were trying to win,” Morgan wrote on his Facebook page. “In our own small way, we were doing our part to maintain the flame of hope for thousands of Kansans who want to elect people who are reasonable and thoughtful. The flame flickers on and we should all celebrate what we accomplished. Never give up if for no other reason than it bugs the heck out of extremists when the middle doesn’t quit.”

Kobach is set to face Democrat Jean Kurtis Schodorf, who was unopposed in her primary, Nov. 4 in the general election.

US Senate

Without ever debating his conservative challenger, Pat Roberts successfully fought off the Tea Party movement for another election cycle, but he still must get through Democrat and independent U.S. Senate hopefuls in November.

Milton Wolf, a Kansas City-area radiologist and hard-right favorite, fell short in his bid to shake up the Republican Party in Kansas, securing only 41 percent of Republican votes across the state. Roberts pulled 48 percent in Kansas, though the margin was slightly different — 45 percent Roberts, 38 percent Wolf — in Franklin County.

On the other side of the U.S. Senate coin, Democrat Chad Taylor, Shawnee County district attorney, defeated Patrick Wiesner, a Lawrence attorney, for his party’s nomination to challenge Roberts in the general election. Though Taylor won with 53 percent of the vote statewide, he lost to Wiesner in Franklin County where the results were flipped — 64 percent Wiesner, 36 percent Taylor. Both men attended a July 22 candidate forum in Ottawa.

Victorious nonetheless, Taylor wasted no time Wednesday, challenging the incumbent Roberts to 105 debates — one in each Kansas county — before the November election. With the sheer logistics of the debates requested and Roberts’ complete refusal to debate Wolf, it seemed unlikely this week Roberts would agree to such a schedule.

“It is our civic duty to the people of this state to stand side-by-side and answer their questions thoroughly so they can make an informed decision about their candidates for U.S. Senate,” Taylor said.

He asked Roberts to appear in Holton today to debate at the county courthouse.

The two candidates also must fend off an independent candidate, Greg Orman, an Olathe entrepreneur. Orman secured the 5,000 signatures he needed to enter the race for the general election, and will be on the ballot alongside Taylor and Roberts in November.

“We all know that voters are fed up with the partisan bickering and finger pointing that has Washington tied in political knots,” Orman said Wednesday. “I have the highest hopes that this U.S. Senate race will be focused on the critical issues facing this nation and not on petty personal attacks that seek to divide us.”

US House

Franklin County voters also cast ballots for the U.S. House of Representatives 2nd District seat, where incumbent Lynn Jenkins handily defeated constitutional conservative Joshua Tucker for the Republican nomination. Jenkins now has her sights on Democrat nominee Margie Wakefield, a Lawrence attorney.

“First of all, I want to thank Joshua Tucker for having the courage to run,” Jenkins said. “It’s a tough business sometimes and while we may have our disagreements, I suspect even he would agree that as Republicans we generally agree on the issues that matter most.”

Jenkins then addressed Wakefield and the general election. She said she wants to know where Wakefield stands on the issues that are important to the Kansans the Congresswoman has represented since being elected in 2008.

“With my advocacy, Eastern Kansas has again become a priority in Washington. Folks know my body of work in these important areas,” Jenkins said. “What we don’t know is where Ms. Wakefield stands on most issues, whom she might support for Speaker [of the House] and when she plans on answering critical questions for Eastern Kansans.”

Jenkins, who did not actively campaign against Tucker, put her campaign against the Democrat challenger into full gear Wednesday by challenging Wakefield to several debates leading up to the November election.

“I am particularly interested in learning about how your support for job-killing policies like cap-and-trade, your time as a delegate for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and your whole-hearted defense of Obamacare — which has raised premiums on thousands of Kansans and, as we learned last month, will hurt our students by cutting the number of hours they can work on campus — will benefit the good people of eastern Kansas,” Jenkins wrote in a letter to Wakefield asking for the debate.

Wakefield is delighted with the opportunity to debate, Mark Sump, Wakefield’s campaign manager, said, but three debates are not enough.

“This election needs to be a grown-up conversation about real issues facing this district’s residents, not the deception, misinformation and personal attacks that the Jenkins campaign has been resorting to from the moment she filed for this office on May 27,” Sump said in an email. “The devil will be in the details, but Margie welcomes a series of true debates across the district with actual back and forth on important issues.”

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