In tomorrows primary... Kansas Republicans will largely decide the fate of their state. More in extended...
The story so far...
Kansas Republicans failed to come up with a satisfactory (i.e. reasonable) redistricting map, so the process went to the courts, who pressed the reset button.
At the end of the legislative session, Kansas Republicans passed a hastily and poorly-written (by Koch lobbyists) rewrite of the entire tax code, making a backroom deal with moderates and then, at the behest of Brownback, betraying them at the last minute. Excellent diary on the impact of this here. (Poor people pay more, corporations and rich people pay almost nothing, huge cuts to education and services, etc.)
So... the Kansas Republican parties response is to PRIMARY many of its key moderate leaders, with the permission of the Brownback administration.
"We are our own worst enemy," says Tim Owens, who is a state senator – and struggling to stay that way.Owens was the Republican Moderate who successfully blocked a map that would have written many other moderates out of their districts. Many of these moderates are, by any other standard, fairly conservative, but they have been champions of things like public schools, higher education, etc. And so they have been targeted.
Owens is waging one of the toughest campaigns in a 30-year political career. Today he's dispensing yard signs at a strip mall in his prosperous suburban Kansas City district — and examining some of the mail bombarding his constituents. One reads, "Obama sought a robot, and found one."
"And they've got Obama and me, which is absolutely ridiculous," Owen scoffs.
Owens is a lifelong Republican, so this is pretty scandalous stuff, and it's coming from his own party.
"The conservative element today is a far cry from what the conservative was when I was growing up," he says. "It's angry. It's hateful."
Jeff Melcher, who runs an IT firm called NetStandard, is vying for state Senate seat now held by a moderate.What does this mean? It means the Koch Bros. real laboratory is not Wisconsin, its their home state of Kansas. And unless Kansas Moderate Republicans survive the primary tomorrow, Kansas goes the way Wisconsin would have.
"There is a party for people who want big government and high taxation, and that's the Democrat Party," he says. "And that's where a lot of the moderates belong."
Huge cuts to what were decent public schools.
Huge cuts to social service infrastructure.
Emergency cuts when the tax plan leads to revenue chaos.
Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, says it's strange to see Gov. Sam Brownback working to dismantle powerful incumbents within his own party.I have read some comments on other blogs where this is discussed, and one overwhelming sentiment is "let the Koch's have their laboratory and fall flat on their face". The problem is SOME OF US HAVE TO LIVE HERE.
"To have this kind of absolutely brutal internecine warfare is certainly unprecedented," he says.
An excellent summary of the Kansas Senate map is here.