By Wednesday, the dust was settling after a partly amazing, partly predictable night of election results in Kansas and Missouri.
Here are my top 10 takeaways, starting in Kansas before moving to Missouri.
1. Johnson County went purple. And just in time. Voters knocked out seven ultraconservative, rock-red Republican legislative incumbents and put seven more moderate GOP members on the November ballot. Many Johnson Countians rediscovered their progressive leanings. That’s great news for aggressive business leaders who want to attract jobs to the county.
2. Hard work matters. The moderate Republicans who won in Johnson County — and two or three who came close to toppling incumbents — hewed to a few rules. They knocked on thousands of doors of voters, showed up at forums, promoted their campaigns on social media and got out the word through traditional mailers. By contrast, too many conservative opponents failed to show up at the forums, were castigated for not returning emails or phone calls, and promoted misleading claims quickly knocked down on social media.
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3. The era of conservative fiscal and social policies promoted by Gov. Sam Brownback will be under attack starting in January in the Legislature. Income taxes will not move lower; in fact, they could be restored on owners of 330,000 LLCs. If more budget cuts are needed, the Legislature will try to play a bigger role than before in saying what they ought to be.
4. Watch out, Kevin Yoder. The U.S. congressman easily won the Republican primary. But Democratic victor Jay Sidie now has some hope that he can successfully attack Yoder’s political leanings as being out of touch in 2016. Wild card: Will Donald Trump’s candidacy affect Yoder in Johnson and Wyandotte counties?
5. The Democrats are coming, the Democrats are coming. In November, at least four and perhaps more Johnson County Democratic candidates could defeat additional incumbent GOP lawmakers who did not face primaries on Tuesday. Democratic leaders are ecstatic they have to decide which contests to pour the most resources into, rather than facing the usual slew of fall losses in the Sunflower State.
6. Watch out for the 2018 elections. Really. If moderate GOP and Democratic lawmakers balance the state budget by raising some income tax rates — a decent bet at this point — conservative Republican forces could be back in two years complaining about that and trying to regain power in Topeka. Ouch.
7. In Missouri, Republican Eric Greitens and Democrat Chris Koster are going to hold one huge, gun-loving race for governor. Greitens blew away the GOP field with ads that showed him firing ever-bigger weapons. Not exactly subtle — or enlightening about what he would do as governor. Koster also is a strong pro-gun politician. Can we decide this race with a duel at noon?
8. Rex Sinquefield is a very wealthy loser. The St. Louis area supposed political kingmaker spent about $11 million in backing GOP candidates who all fell in statewide primaries. Think about how much good that money could have done if even half of it had been given to the charities of his liking.
9. Roy Blunt’s U.S. Senate seat is up for grabs. The Republican will face off against Democrat Jason Kander, who narrowly trailed the incumbent in a recent poll. Again, the candidacy of Trump hovers over this race.
10. Don’t sleep on the attorney general’s contest this fall. It was great to see a dangerous guy like state Sen. Kurt Schaefer get defeated by law school professor Josh Hawley in the GOP primary. Get ready for Democrat Teresa Hensley, a former Cass County prosecutor, to make the case that a real professional, not an ideologue, should hold this crucial job.