The Kansas Republican Party has put out a truly horrendous mailer in its quest to get Gov. Sam Brownback re-elected.
The subject, again, is the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling setting aside the death sentences for Jonathan and Reginald Carr, brothers who murdered five persons in Wichita in 2000. The trial judge erred by not holding separate trials in the penalty phase, justices said.
The brothers aren’t going anywhere; they will remain in prison on capital charges. But you wouldn’t know that from the GOP’s odious mailer. The campaign material details some of the awful details of the Carrs’ crimes. It baselessly accuses justices on the state Supreme Court of protecting murders, rapists, cop killers, meth dealers.... You get the idea. And in the perverted logic of a panicking campaign, Davis, because he thinks judges should be selected by a non-partisan, merit-based process, somehow is linked to all these crimes.
“Paul Davis,” the mailer said, “endangering the safety of your family.”
That is about as low of a campaign tactic as it gets. Davis had nothing to do with the Supreme Court rulings on the Carr brothers or anything else. And those rulings, by the way, are defending the principal that everyone’s constitutional rights should be upheld, regardless of how awful the crime or reviled the defendants.
Why are Brownback and his defenders doing this? That’s explained in a memo that the Topeka Capital-Journal posted on its website last week. I’m surprised it hasn’t received more attention.
The memo is from Pat McFerron, president of Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates Inc., a polling and market analysis firm. It is addressed to Mark Dugan, Brownback’s campaign manager.
The memo said polling showed the race to be statistically tied, with little potential for movement on topics such as education, moral issues and economics. But an opportunity existed on the public safety front, McFerron said.
“Our polling shows that when voters are informed of Davis’s relationship with the supreme court justices and reminded of that court’s decision to overthrow the conviction and sentencing of the Carr Brothers, they break against Davis by a better than five-to-one ratio.”
That polling apparently was the basis for TV adds that Brownback has been running, and now the deceptive, out-of-bounds mailer.
“There is no doubt, the airing of this ad will cause great consternation and gnashing of teeth in the Davis camp,” McFerron continued, “because they will quickly see it work and will likely stop at nothing to encourage it to stop airing.”
Well, Kansans don’t need to be in anybody’s camp to see that a campaign is exploiting the suffering of crime victims, attempting to deceive voters and compromising every principle of decency in order to pick up votes.
Brownback’s willingness to stoop to this level reveals his desperate search for issues. Certainly, he can’t run on his economic record. New figures out Friday showed revenues coming in lower than projected for the fifth time in seven months. October collections were $23 million below expectations, increasing prospects that drastic cuts in education and services will be required when the Legislature convenes in January.
Bereft of economic accomplishments, Brownback and his allies are trying to scare Kansans into voting for him. Who knows, maybe it will work. But he will start a second term having sacrificed all dignity and decency.
To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to email@example.com.