Some hot Kansas races loom in November, including trouble for Gov. Sam Brownback

08/09/2014 10:00 AM

08/09/2014 4:51 PM

What does Tuesday’s election mean?

I said the highway sales tax in Missouri would be defeated. It got slaughtered. State leaders should try for a 10th of a cent to just fix Interstate 70. That might prevail. They asked for too much in an anti-tax environment.

The streetcar extension was doomed. As I said, too much of a burden would’ve been on the poor. The polls showed it ahead. I suspect there was a methodology flaw in the polling because it lost by 20 points. The future for a streetcar extension is grim. This is a sneak preview as to how a new airport would do at the polls.

I predicted Pat Roberts would trounce Milton Wolf for the U.S. Senate seat. Roberts won handily, but he did not win by the margin I expected. Two peripheral candidates unexpectedly picked up 11 percent of the vote. And, more important, Wolf did better than expected. He even beat Roberts in Johnson County. Had it not been for the Facebook fiasco, Wolf might have beaten Roberts.

Last week, I predicted Brownback would win the nomination for Kansas governor with only 69 percent against an opponent who had no campaign and no name recognition. He only won by 63 percent. A Washburn University political scientist said before the election if Brownback’s opponent got over 30 percent, it’s one indication moderate Republicans are much more willing to vote against Brownback. She got 37 percent. Brownback is in trouble.

I predicted Kris Kobach would garner only 65 percent for secretary of state, and he did. That’s not a big number against a low-budgeted opponent in a low-turnout, conservative Republican primary. It will be a real race in November.

Although I correctly predicted Patricia Lightner would upset veteran Commissioner Ed Peterson to win second place for Johnson County chairman, I also predicted that Ed Eilert’s first-place victory would capture 50 percent of the vote. It was much closer than that. Eilert received 41 percent. For the November election, Eilert now picks up almost all of the Peterson moderate voters, who will not vote for a hard-right Lightner. That puts Eilert in the driver’s seat.

Ron Schaffer was the call for first place out of five running for Johnson County commissioner, with Laura McConwell in second place. As I said, I was sure about Schaffer but struggled on second place. As it turned out, it was quite close, with Schaffer barely beating McConwell. The November race should be something to behold.

Jason Osterhaus was a shoo-in for first place among three candidates for commissioner. I didn’t bother to guess on second place, because Osterhaus was going to be so solidly triumphant. As it turned out, he got as many votes as his two competitors combined.

I selected two Kansas state representative races to make predictions because the Koch Brothers and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce threw the kitchen sink against two moderate Republicans, trying once again — as they successfully did two years ago — to knock out all moderate Republicans in the Legislature. Money doesn’t always prevail. Both Barbara Bollier and Stephanie Clayton were victorious, as we expected. Their districts are moderate and cannot be bought by an avalanche of vicious mailers.

The biggest loser was the Kansas City streetcar, which got walloped by a bigger margin than just about anyone anticipated.

To reach Steve Rose, a longtime Johnson County columnist, send email to


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