It’s prediction time for 2014. This year it’s somewhat weighted toward Kansas events because many of the boiling hot races are there.
Let’s start with the big enchilada.
Gov. Sam Brownback will be re-elected but pundits will be astounded at how close the race will be. Brownback’s opponent, Democrat Paul Davis — a virtual unknown when he announced his candidacy — and his running mate, Jill Docking, will make education their number one campaign theme, where Brownback is vulnerable. Brownback’s cutback in school funding is being felt in classrooms across the state and parents are up in arms.
Brownback has alienated lots of independents and moderate Republicans with his ultra-conservative administration, combined with an ultra-conservative Legislature.
More generally, their radically wild tax cuts are not so popular with Kansans, according to polls. People sense that the state cannot afford the resulting dramatic cuts, which have led to slashes in spending for higher education, human services, the arts, and, of course, K-12 education. And worse cuts are yet to come.
Meanwhile, voters in Kansas will be faced with a grueling Republican primary race for U.S. Senate. A veteran of Congress since 1981, 77-year-old Pat Roberts faces upstart tea party candidate Milton Wolf. Although Wolf will give Roberts the scare of his political career, in the end, rural Kansas — where Roberts has extraordinary support — will put him safely back in the Senate.
The upset of 2014 will be the defeat of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Polls today show the contrary, that Republican Kobach will be re-elected. His challenger, Jean Schodorf, a former Republican state senator from Wichita, is not the strongest opponent for the job, but she will do. Kansans will revolt against Kobach’s moonlighting as an immigration attorney all over the U.S., his mean-spirited obsession with undocumented immigrants, and his registration and voter restrictions, which hopefully will soon be overturned by the courts.
That prediction, admittedly, may be wishful thinking. But there you have it anyway.
On a national level, Republicans will hold onto the House of Representatives and gain three seats in the U.S. Senate, not enough for a majority. Obamacare will still be the overriding issue in the mid-term campaigns, as more and more Americans realize that their own health care will be changed, diminished, and cost more. It will be seen for what it has been labeled by its critics, a “redistribution of health.”
In the meantime, Hillary Clinton will announce her candidacy for president. No surprise there. But it will become official before the end of next year. She will need to start raising serious money and build an organization for the 2016 run. No Republican on the scene will be able to touch her, but we’ll save that prediction for the future.
Internationally, the deal President Barack Obama has made with the Iranians will turn out to be a positive turning point for the Mideast and the entire world. Iran will avoid cheating, as the devastating sanctions are gradually lifted. The winner in all of this will be Israel, who will not face nuclear warheads in Iran, threatening its existence, and will be deterred from military action against Iran. This will turn out to be Obama’s top legacy in foreign policy during his two-term administration.
Locally, the movement to reconfigure the airport as a single terminal for $1.2 billion will receive overwhelming approval from the mayor’s task force. Despite all the consultant reports that may flow, if the issue has to go before voters, it will fail. Kansas Citians love their home-spun, modest, hugely convenient terminals the way they are, with the improvements needed to keep it functional, at about half the price. If civic leaders can avoid a vote, welcome to a one-terminal KCI.
The border wars — luring corporations across the state line — will continue unabated next year. But ultimately, there will be a solution.
And in the world of sports? I only know what my omniscient son, Josh, tells me. The Chiefs, with a much more difficult schedule, will fall back in the division. The Royals, who Josh believes are led by a hopelessly backward front office, will miss the playoffs again and have little to show for the budding superstar Wil Myers whom they traded last year.
Tear out this column, if you like, and if I am mostly right, send me a nice note. If I am mostly wrong, just forget about the column and say nothing.