Steve Rose

Stage is set for epic Kansas GOP showdown

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback answers questions at a town hall meeting in Leavenworth. Primary GOP candidates are running against lawmakers in the Legislature who have supported the governor.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback answers questions at a town hall meeting in Leavenworth. Primary GOP candidates are running against lawmakers in the Legislature who have supported the governor.

Aug. 2 may be one of the most important elections for Republicans in modern Kansas history. On that primary election date, Republicans will decide whether the Brownback “bad guys” will continue to rule the Legislature or whether the “good guys” get the keys to the Capitol.

The list of “good guys” running for the Legislature from Johnson County is at the end of this column. But let’s dispense with the who’s who of “bad guys.” Very simply, it’s every GOP incumbent from Johnson County, seeking re-election to the Legislature, who is a strong supporter of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

That is the definition of the “bad guys.” And they have drawn Republican opponents in the primary.

Although these senators and representatives may vary on some votes, they have been Brownback’s team. They are responsible for foisting on Kansas the most irresponsible government in state history.

Their tax policy has bankrupted the state, while the tax burden has been shifted to low-income and middle-class Kansans. The “bad guys” have left an unprecedented debt that leaves our children in a financial crater. Education cuts at all levels, from K-12 to higher education, have compromised the single most important mission of state government, investing in education. The ravaging of human services is a blight on a state that at one time was among the most attentive to its needy and disabled. The plunder of the highway fund has destroyed the state’s capacity to maintain and construct roads, a basic role of state government.

The bizarre performance of our so-called leaders has led us down crazy paths.

Sure, it was a lopsided vote, but it was the right-wing that led the way for guns to soon be allowed on college campuses. Not only concealed carry but open carry will be allowed. And not just on campuses. Also, guns will be allowed at the state-run University of Kansas Hospital. Can you imagine an emergency room with anybody and everybody carrying a pistol?

Have Kansans had enough?

More to the point, will enough disgruntled Republicans get out to vote on a hot summer day in August or even bother to cast a vote by mail?

This year, as few others, sensible Republican opponents to extreme, destructive incumbents have filed en masse to turn this state around. Challengers are out fundraising against incumbents funded generously by extremist groups who want to keep Kansas going in the same spiral. These challengers will be knocking on doors with one clear message: Boot the Brownback incumbents out of office!

But if only 25 percent of registered Republicans bother to vote, which is historically what happens in primaries, the extremists who do get out and vote will once again claim almost certain victory, because Republican nominees usually win in the November general election.

I promised you a list of the challengers who are anti-Brownback Republicans. Here they are, along with the part of the county they represent. I left off district numbers, inasmuch as most voters may not know the district they are in.

Senate races

Dinah Sykes, all of Lenexa and northwest Overland Park; and John Skubal, all of Leawood and south Overland Park.

House races

Tom Cox, Shawnee, Lake Quivira and some Lenexa; Leesa Gabel, Olathe and western Lenexa; Joy Koesten, Leawood and Overland Park; Jan Kessinger, north Leawood and Overland Park; Patty Markley, south Overland Park and a tiny part of Olathe; Kim Palcic, Olathe; Shelee Brim, western Shawnee; Don Roberts, Gardner and Edgerton; Mitra Templin, De Soto, Basehor and Bonner Springs.

Steve Rose, longtime Johnson County columnist: