The Buzz

Quick takes on Brownback, Eilert, Roberts & Pompeo on a wild primary night

Here we go — a fast review of what a frantic season of primary campaigns in Missouri and Kansas all means.

1. Maybe the night’s biggest surprise: Gov. Sam Brownback’s unimpressive 63-37 percent win over the little-known Jennifer Winn, who favored liberalizing marijuana laws. That Winn could scratch out support from nearly four in 10 Republican voters is simply stunning following Brownback’s landslide 2010 win. This amounts to yet another setback for the governor and a sign that many Republicans remain dissatisfied heading into the general election. Keep in mind that conservative voters dominate primaries, and that’s Brownback’s base. The governor forecast a strong showing for himself Tuesday night. He didn’t get it.

2. Devastating defeat for pro-streetcar forces in Kansas City. A 60-40 percent defeat isn’t close. With no plans for another election, Kansas City is left with a 2.2-mile starter line, and that’s it. Embarrassing it is, and another reminder of just how tough a sell mass transit is in this town.

3. On the surface, the defeat of the three-quarters-cent sales tax for highway projects in Missouri is equally devastating. Missouri can’t find a way to pay for road projects. Lawmakers won’t approve tolls. Voters won’t approve higher gasoline taxes or, apparently, sales taxes. But keep in mind the sales tax rejection came in an August primary. That’s when Gov. Jay Nixon scheduled it because he didn’t like it. A November vote, when far more Democrats and independents cast ballots, could lead to a different outcome. All is not lost for highway advocates.

4. Three-term Sen. Pat Roberts took care of business Tuesday night, dispatching tea partier Milton Wolf by 48-41 percent. Roberts gets a huge break in the general election with two opponents who will split much of the anti-incumbent vote. Those candidates are independent Greg Orman and Chad Taylor, the Democrat. Taylor won his primary narrowly Tuesday night and has virtually no money in the bank. If Roberts is going to be defeated in November, either Orman or Taylor has to abandon the race. That’s unlikely.

5. Powerhouse showing by veteran Ed Eilert in the race for Johnson County Commission chair. He came out on top in a three-candidate field with 41 percent. And Eilert can expect to pick up almost all of the 21 percent support that went to third-place finisher Ed Peterson. That’s because the second-place finisher, Patricia Lightner, is so conservative, and Peterson was the most liberal of the bunch. Eilert heads into the fall the favorite for re-election.

6. Incumbent Congressman Mike Pompeo in Wichita over-powered former Congressman Todd Tiahrt by 63-37 percent with a far stronger finish than anticipated. Following two straight high-profile defeats, Tiahrt’s political career may be over.

7. Note Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp’s suprisingly narrow win over the little-known Alan LaPolice by 55-45 percent. That lackluster showing places a bull’s-eye on Huelskamp looking ahead to 2016. He’s just too controversial, and mainstream GOPers want him gone.