Monday, December 18, 2006

What is the future of the Kansas GOP?

Mixed news to report. As a delegate to to the 3rd District Republican Committee Convention the day after precinct leaders selected Phill Kline to be the next JoCo DA, the mood was very subdued and somber. Charlotte O'Hara quietly exited out of the running (her vocal support against Phill Kline secured her demotion from leadership) and the new leadership slate, which included one moderate--Sally Bibb (which is interesting since the 3rd District has an overwhelming conservative advantage--much more so than the county committee).

The New 3rd District Unity Slate:
Chairman: Ernie Straub
Vice Chair: Cory Kangas
Secretary: Sally Bibb
Treasurer: Domingo Soto

Bibb has been involved in county politics for a long time, and Straub is well-known by many. Cory is fresh, young and has extensive campaign experience, which is crucial--especially since the county and district parties have been lacking on leaders who know the ins and outs of campaigns. With her as vice-chair, hopefully the third district can step up and play more of a role in supporting candidates and campaigns in '08--something that has traditionally been left to the county parties. The 3rd District GOP could step up and be instrumental in funding, supporting, and mapping out a strategy for the 3rd District nominee congress against Dennis Moore--really that's what they should have been doing the last three cycles--especially since Kline and Taff came extremely close to knocking Moore out.

Wyandotte and Douglas Co's 6 combined delegates voted for state delegates and left after 20 min, while us 60 JoCo delegates survived through error-filled ballots, faulty printers, and confusion over candidates to finally vote for a slate of State delegates and alternates for the state convention--Kansas Days--in Topeka the weekend of Jan. 26-28. I have been elected to serve as an alternate State delegate, so I will attend Kansas Days, and attend my district committee meetings and serve if needed as state delegate--it will be interesting to see who gets the pic.

These last few weeks have been full of mixed news for the party. The unity slates at the county and 3rd District conventions are completely new and different from the way things are usually done and could be a harbinger of cooperation between both factions of the party, although Kline's appointment will obviously set that back some.

The fallout from the Kline episode cannot be understated. Most people don't know who their precinct committeemen and women are, or what they do, but I have received 3 calls in the last week from Republican constituents in my precinct asking about my vote and upset at the result. All current precinct committee members may see intense competition for their seats in '08, and those who supported Phill will be especially targeted.

Kline has made it known that he will not run for election in '08, so the question is will he step out and let an open primary occur, or will he try to push his own annointed successor into the spot? If so, and that person wins the primary, having Kline's endorsement may be the kiss of death and be the the redeeming issue of the democrat running for that office. Or Phill Kline can work behind the scenes to help a current attorney in the office seek the spot--like Steve Howe.

Either way, I hope Howe decides to run--I'll be one of the first to help him in the primary and general. Exciting times lay ahead. As fractured as the party has been over the years, it can't be much more divided than it is now, so the good news is we have two years for people like me and others to step up, bridge the divide and work on establishing the brand name of what it means to be a Republican. To quote the great Republican icon Ronald Reagan: "Someone who agrees with you 80% of the time is your friend." Conservatives who try to shut moderates out of the party should try to remember that, and moderates who use every opportuntity to tear down a conservative publicly should also remember that ("moderate" Republicans who support Democrats on a regular basis are not even Republicans--at best they're independents or liberals,, so the above advice does not even apply to them).

11 comments:

Federalist said...

Brandon,

What was your perception of Charlotte O'Hara ?

SLW

Brandon Kenig said...

federalist,
I understand why people were upset (since she does represent the 3rd District GOP, and she shouldn't come out endorsing one candidate over another). However, I called her up the day the story broke and I talked with her at length, and honestly, I think she was sincere and she really wasn't trying to divide the party and she saw the ramifications that would ensue when Kline was appointed DA. I think she could have made it clear who she was personally supporting without going on local radio. That being said, the effort by some of those on the right to push her out of leadership is a huge mistake I think. Think what you want about Charlotte, she is an independent conservative and she is gutsy--always stands up for what she believes and has drawn ire from both sides, conservative and moderate, left and right (which proves her independence and is a great characteristic to have).

Federalist said...

Brandon,

Thank you for your thoughts.

I don't fully understand who "the right" is and who occupies the key leadership positions.

SLW

Federalist said...

Brandon,

It appears that I am not going to get any answers on the Stephanie Sharp site, so I will blither on yours for a while.

I am still looking to understand what happens to folks like Mary Pilcher Cook and Charlotte O'Hare when they exit office (or leadership roles).

I hope they don't disappear.

I really did enjoy Mary and thought she was good on the basics.

SLW

Federalist said...

Another thing I have asked about is some kind of consolidated report/study/history on the whole Kansas school finance debacle.

I would be willing to work on such a thing if there was interest.

Does anyone know of any such thing ?

SLW

Brandon Kenig said...

federalist--
As far as who is on "the right" and who is more moderate, sometimes it's hard to tell. Charlotte was always considered "hard-right," until she came out against Phill Kline, but if you talk to her, she is more moderate than appears and she actually seems to want to work more with moderates and is more open to compromise.

Kevin Yoder is considered a moderate, but if you look at his voting record, he votes fairly conservatively. Rep. Sheryl Spalding is also a "moderate," but she's proud to call herself a conservative and is a big fan of John Stossel. She even came out and said she'd be in favor of school vouchers in urban areas with that have a history of underperforming schools.

So to answer your question, most often the label is not always applied consistently, and more often than not, it's applied depending on who they hang out with (whether or not their friends are mostly the "mods" or the "conservatives," and that's really where the feud between the moderates and conservatives erupted. It had less to do with the actual issues than with the individual personalities involved and many of those persons are still in the party, so until they leave politics or die, the feud will continue.

That's why even when I do use the labels, I don't rely on them and I only use the labels to designate some point of difference or show where a breaktrough has occured (such as the new JoCo GOP unity leadership slate). Steve Rose and "The Sun" throw around labels all the time and it makes me sick how they segregate and classify everyone they like and those they don't like based on their use of simplistic labels.

Brandon Kenig said...

Mary is seriously considering challenging Cindy in '08--I think she should--in '08, Republicans will be in a stronger position to challenge the dems now in control, and seeing how volatile my district is (Cook, Neighbor, Cook, and now Neighbor) I think it could easily swing back.

As for Charlotte, I don't know. She was really disappointed and almost knocked Surbaugh off this time (only lost by one percentage point, unlike the last time when she lost by 10). She's hinted that she may consider running again, or look at other opportunities available to serve in public office. Either way, I think she'll still be involved somewhat.

As to your inquiry on school finance, I would really be interested in working with you on developing a history/report on the whole debate. Yoder, who as state rep had voted for every increase for education, voted against the last funding plan, which was bad for JoCo. Despite always being a solid vote of support, that vote earned him a big target on his back from KFUPE and a nasty letter to the Star condemning him by KFUPE's leadership. KFUPE has trivialized the whole debate, and there are several good ideas out there for revising the school finance formula. I would really be interested in working on this with you perhaps this summer, when I'm out of school and could expend a lot of time on a project like this

Federalist said...

Brandon,

I hope Mary does decide to run again. I would like to see the Republican party develope a stable of issues they can press NOW. If we could control the nature of the debate we might be able to do something.

At the same time, I have to say it needs to be something of substance. Neither side does a good job on the school finance debate. I don't see anyone grounding the argument in first principles.

This is something I would like to see happen.

Now what is your perception of Stephanie Sharp ? She is not well liked by most of the "conservative" republicans that I know. One member of the house stated to me that she was nothing more than a democrat frocked in republican robes.

I have struggled with this as I like Stephanie, but can't seem to figure out her reasons for her positions. I don't think she is unwilling to share....I think she simply does not have them...not at the basic level.

Mary PC on the other hand is very much able to elucidate her reasons for choosing a position on a subject such as eminent domain.

Your thoughts ?

SLW

Brandon Kenig said...

federalist,
Yes, I would say that based on her voting record, Stephanie is on the fringes of the party (she is fairly liberal on many issues) but I wouldn't go so far as too say she is basically a Democrat. She belongs in the party, and it seems that on some certain core issues she is definitely consistent with the party's philosophy. And unlike Paul Morrison and others, she seems pretty resolved on working out differences and doing everything possible to stay in the party and make it more inclusive.

I do agree with you though--MPC can really defend her positions (like eminent domain and the minimum wage)--did you see her televised JCCC debate with Cindy Neighbor? Cook does a great job of giving the reasoning behind her positions. Stephanie is very open about how she votes, but less open about why she votes the way she does, and conveying the importance and underlying philosophy behind those votes. However, even though I disagree with her on many occasions, it is difficult to not like Stephanie as she is very personable and an extremely nice person (and this is coming from someone who does know her fairly well on a first-name basis).

It's been great talking to you, and I look forward to working with you on developing a concise history of school finance later on.

Merry Christmas!

Federalist said...

Brandon,

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

SLW

Anonymous said...

"Fringes of the party" and "fairly liberal"...? Has our party drank so much Kool-Aid where a person with a 100% Chamber (KCCI AND OP) voting record is "liberal"?

My stances are derived from a strong sense of personal responsibility. That means enabling access to opportunities that help Kansans make informed decisions (so they are equipped to have personal responsibility). Whether it's social issues or the issues that affect Kansans every day, that's where I'm coming from.

I express specific reasons for my votes in every newsletter, my reasoning and belief system.

No, many conservatives don't like me because I serve my district, not them. I don't check my brain at the door and follow the sheep to the slaughter, the loyalty they expect. So, I'm content to be impure in their eyes.