TOPEKA– Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said Monday that Democrat Paul Davis’ views still aren’t defined enough for many Kansas voters to support him and suggested the challenger has kept a low profile on the campaign trail to avoid talking about tough issues.
But Davis announced he'll have a 30-stop bus tour of the ahead of the Nov. 4 election, and his spokesman said Brownback’s comments show that the governor and his allies know voters dislike his fiscal policies.
A new poll from NBC News and Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, showed the race a toss-up. It showed more respondents had an unfavorable impression of Brownback than a favorable one but, also, nearly 1 in 5 were unsure of their impression of Davis.
Brownback and his wife, Mary, voted in advance Monday at the Shawnee County Election Commissioner’s office. He talked Kansas State University football afterward with Dale Hrenchir, a 53-year-old warehouse worker and unaffiliated voter from Topeka.
Hrenchir said he’s gone back and forth between supporting Davis and Brownback and ultimately settled on Brownback before voting Monday. He said he trusts Brownback’s experience and told the governor, “You’re the man for the job.”
Brownback said he’s confident that Hrenchir’s decision will prove typical for enough Kansas voters for him to win a second, four-year term. He said Davis has avoided discussing his views in detail, citing gay marriage as an example. Brownback supports the state constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage, while Davis voted against the ban as a Kansas House member but says the courts will decide the issue.
“It’s pretty odd. You would think you would be out traveling everywhere and talking to people about, ‘This is where I stand on issues.’ ” Brownback told reporters. “But he’s generally avoided that, and that leaves a void, then, for people to determine who Paul Davis is.”
Davis has focused much of his campaign on attacking Brownback’s policies, particularly personal income tax cuts enacted by legislators at the governor’s urging to boost the state’s economy.
The state dropped its top personal income tax rate 26 percent and exempted the owners of 191,000 businesses from income taxes altogether. The Legislature’s nonpartisan research staff is predicting a budget shortfall of $260 million by July 2016, and the state has seen credit ratings downgraded.
“Governor Brownback and his allies know at this point that this is going to be an exceptionally close race,” said Davis spokesman Chris Pumpelly. “Kansans are very concerned about Sam Brownback and his experiment.”
Brownback has events across the state throughout the week, including a four-day bus tour with other Republicans. Davis’ tour starts Tuesday in the southeast Kansas town of Iola.
In Topeka, Kevin Adrian, 53, who is studying computer science, said he voted for Davis because he’s upset with Brownback’s fiscal policies.
“In the long run, we’re in a better position with him,” Adrian said of Davis.