Friday, December 12, 2008

Up-and-coming Kansas Republican Rockstars: the Future of the Kansas GOP

Kansas Republicans, in contrast to the national outcome, made gains against the Democrats in 2008 and 2010 promises to be a banner year for Republicans, as Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh and Sen. Sam Brownback jockey for the GOP nomination for governor in order to put that office back in Republican control (it will be), and Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt run for Brownback’s U.S. Senate seat. In addition, a slew of state senate seats will be up for grabs, all 125 state house seats will be up, and all statewide offices will be up (the Konnection has received credible tips that attorney and state GOP chair Kris Kobach is set on re-claiming the attorney general’s seat for the GOP). Meanwhile, here are some Kansas Republican pols on the younger side who we believe will be powerful leaders in the future based on their current successes:

Kevin Yoder—this young KU law school grad and current attorney is now serving his 3rd term in the house representing an Overland Park-based district that includes the headquarters of Sprint. Yoder is known as a pragmatic voice in the legislature who transcends the moderate/conservative political divide in the Kansas GOP and is well respected by moderates and conservatives alike. Yoder won his race this year with more than 60 percent of the vote and is constantly mentioned as a favorite for Johnson County DA in the future, state senate, and even congress. Yoder was recently named chair of the power Appropriations committee.

Julia Lynn—another young, energetic, and bright newcomer, Lynn faced a strong opponent in Olathe Superintendent Ron Wimmer in her first election bid after being appointed to Kay O’Connor’s seat by the GOP precinct committee members in 2007, but Lynn won by a resounding 10 percent. Lynn was recently named vice chair of the Tax and Commerce committees, a major accomplishment for a freshman legislator who will be making waves in Topeka and throughout her political career.

Kasha Kelly--this dynamic Arkansas City representative has championed budget reform, fiscal responsibility, and led the implemention of the state's first sunshine laws to promote state budget transparency online. Kelly has incredible skill and drive, which makes her a rising star in the party.

Lance Kinzer--this third-term Olathe lawyer carefully researches the issues and knows the Kansas constitution like the back of his hand. Kinzer has championed reductions in state spending and a strict constructivist view of the state constitution. He has also worked across the aisle and written critical legislation to downsize government and halt its growth. Look for Kinzer to run for AG someday.

Lynn Jenkins—popular state treasurer took on native son and former congressman Jim Ryun and overcame long odds, defying the pundits and winning. But she didn’t stop there—Jenkins promised new Republican leadership, running on a strong platform of the core issues of low taxes, cutting wasteful spending, eliminating earmarks, and sealing the borders. In one of only a few defeats of incumbent Democrats nationwide, Jenkins returned the 2nd District to Republican control. Jenkins will be a powerful force in Washington and strong voice from Kansas, serving as a prime example of the type of campaign Republicans need to run if they want to regain power.

Steve Howe—conservative, bridge-builder, 15-year veteran of the Johnson County DA’s office who united Republicans around his candidacy and defeated political opportunist and turncoat Rick Guinn in November, despite being heavily outspent. I personally know Steve well and worked in the DA’s office with him and he will be an honest, effective, and tireless advocate on behalf of the citizens of this county. It will be refreshing to move beyond the political posturing, corruption, and controversy-plagued administrations of Morrison and Kline. The question is: what is next in Howe’s political future?

Mark Gilstrap switches to GOP

The media has inundated us with reports of Republican defections to the KS Democratic Party in recent years, yet there is only brief mention of Kansas City, KS State Senator Mark Gilstrap’s recent defection to the Republican Party. Gilstrap, the most conservative Democrat in Topeka, has supported Kline for Attorney General, and is a pro-life social conservative with fiscally-conservative tendencies. Sebelius’ unprecedented endorsement of Gilstrap’s primary opponent led Gilstrap to lose his longtime seat in the Democratic primary. Really, Gilstrap had no choice as his party all but abandoned him and decided it had no use for someone who wasn’t going to tow the liberal party line of the governor. Gilstrap returned the favor by endorsing Republican Steve Fitzgerald in the general election.

Republican Steve Fitzgerald has come within four points of winning this KCK seat twice now. The Konnection believes that Gilstrap should and must run as the Republican nominee in 2010—his odds of beating Kelly Kultala would be great, since he is well-known in the district and would attract a substantial Democratic crossover vote. Additionally, the lost of an additional senate seat would reduce Democratic numbers in the state senate to an abysmal 8 members in the 40 member body—a profound failure considering Sebelius massive fundraising efforts and long-term goal of increasing the party’s numbers in that body and in the state house.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Political Upset of the Decade

Joseph Cao: One of the new faces of the GOP

Two special congressional elections were held in Louisiana yesterday. Republican physician John Fleming narrowly beat popular former Democratic attorney Paul Carmouche by 300 votes, holding this seat for the GOP. But LA-2 was the scene of the most shocking upset of the night, astounding all political pundits and observers. This New Orleans based district takes in only two parishes (counties) in Louisiana—Orleans and Jefferson—and due to its demographics (an urban, majority black district), it has long been the most Democratic district in the state. That changed Saturday in a historic moment when New Orleans voters voted out disgraced and indicted Congressman William Jefferson and elected Republican attorney Joseph Cao to congress, 50 to 47 percent. Some quick facts on this historic win:

  • Cao becomes the first Republican to represent this New Orleans-based district since 1891—a span of more than 100 years
  • Cao becomes the first Republican to represent a majority African-American (60 percent black) congressional district in America
  • Cao becomes the first Republican to represent a U.S. congressional district with a 28 point Democratic lean (Obama won this district with 75 percent of the vote)
  • Cao becomes the first Vietnamese-American to serve in congress and he comes from the party of real diversity, the Republican Party

Now, naysayers will dismiss and downplay the results, claiming this was a vote against Jefferson, not a vote for Cao, and that Jefferson’s federal indictment and legal troubles doomed his re-election bid, combined with low turnout for a special election originally postponed due to Hurrican Gustav. All of those factors are valid reasons for explaining Jefferson’s loss, but those factors alone do not explain Cao’s win. Jefferson was under federal indictment in 2006 and still won re-election convincingly. The difference this year? The Republicans recruited an inspiring reformer who represented the growing diversity of his district, someone with an intriguing life story (Cao arrived in the U.S. as child from Saigon in the aftermath of Vietnam War as his family sought to escape communism), someone well-connected with his community, with a history of service and volunteer commitment to the city of New Orleans. Cao built coalitions that included former Democratic candidates and independents, knocked on more doors and held more community forums than any Republican challenger in the past. In addition, his efforts were complemented by the NRCC and Louisiana Republican Party, which waged an aggressive campaign against Jefferson and micro-targeted certain wards in New Orleans while blanketing the suburbs with TV, radio, and print ads. The result? Jefferson only very narrowly won Orleans county (New Orleans), losing many of that city’s wards while Cao won suburban Jefferson County, beating Jefferson overall by 3 percent.

Jefferson’s ethical and legal lapses were not enough to cost him re-election in a district with a 28 point Democratic edge—the incredible effort of the Republican Party in fielding a top-tier candidate and supporting him in every way possible with the full heft and resources of the national, state, and local party apparatuses should and will provide a blueprint for how Republicans can win even in the bluest of districts. Let’s not forget that Republican Jim Ogonowski came within 5 points of knocking off Paul Tsongas' wife in Massachusetts in 2007. With the right message and the right candidates, the GOP can win again everywhere, becoming a dominant party in the northeast again and refusing to cede any district to the Democrats.

These two Republican victories in Louisiana, combined with Saxby Chambliss’ double-digit win in Georgia last week are evidence that the Republican party is not dead and that conservatism is still alive and well. Since Obama’s victory, the Republicans are 3-3 in special congressional elections, and with the right message and right candidates, the party can make huge gains in 2010. That is, if it takes anything from these special elections and creates an organizational framework going into 2010.

As for Louisiana, the fact that the most liberal and Democratic district of the state has elected a conservative Republican further underscores the state’s sharp turn to the right in the last decade. Just six years ago, a majority of Louisiana’s congressional delegation was Democratic—now only one of its 7 congressional seats is held by a Democrat (and that seat, held by Charles Melancon, was formerly held by Republican Billy Tauzin, and it is expected to switch back to Republican control in 2010 or 2012, giving Louisiana complete GOP control of its delegation). Louisiana also has a GOP governor and senator, and was one of only a few states to give John McCain a greater share of its vote in this year’s presidential election than George W. Bush in 2004.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

2008 proves Kansas is less purple and more red

Despite the Obama phenomenon nationally, and the Democratic presidential candidate's coattails pulling Democrats across the finish line in races around the country, Kansas Democrats actually lost ground. Despite Gov. Sebelius' use of shadowly 527 groups like the Bluestem Fund, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by Kansas Democratic Party and out-of-state groups, far surpassing the resources of key Republican and conservative groups, the KS Democrats only have a net gain of one state house seat to show for their efforts (Republicans still hold a 77-48 edge in the lower chamber). Additionally:
  • Sen. Pat Roberts won re-election with 60 percent of the vote. Jim Slattery's 36 percent is only a little better than what he garnered when he ran against Bill Graves for governor in 1994, before heading to DC for his lobbying career. Despite eager attempts by the KC Star and other liberal media to paint this race as an upset opportunity, the numbers show that there was no chance of Slattery defeating the popular and well-liked Roberts
  • KS Democrats actually had a net loss of one state senate seat (a net gain for the GOP). In the 40 member senate, the Democrats are now just down to 9 seats.
  • One of the greatest successes: GOP state treasurer Lynn Jenkins defeated incumbent Nancy Boyda in the 2nd congressional district 51 to 46 percent, one of only a handful of races nationwide where an incumbent Democrat was defeated. KS now has 3 Republicans in its congressional delegation and one Democrat.
  • Several Republicans targeted by Sebelius' machine won handily. Former Shawnee state representative Mary Pilcher Cook handily won her race to succeed Nick Jordan in the state senate, defeating her opponent by 10 percent despite being heavily outspent and targeted by outside liberal groups.
  • Sen. Julia Lynn, running for the first time to retain the seat she was appointed to, faced Olathe Superintendent Ron Wimmer in a heavily targeted race against an opponent with great name recognition. Lynn turned the tables on her opponents and won by 10 percent in a race the pundits told us would be "close."

Kansas Republicans should be proud--the "Roberts effect" outweighed the "Obama effect" and despite all her organizational efforts, Sebelius will leave Cedar Crest with less Democrats in office than when she first took the oath of office. Combined with the still resounding 287,000 Republican registration advantage statewide, Republicans will be in great shape as 2010 approaches. Next time: watch as we chroncile some new, some old faces in the party and who we think has the right skills and message to advance as the future of the Kansas GOP.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Where do we go from here?

Tuesday’s results were devastating for Republicans. The good news (if any): Democratic projections for 60+ seat majorities fell short, and it looks like the Democrats will only have 57 or 58 seats, just short of a filibuster-proof majority.

Are we still a center-right country or has the United States shifted far-left by giving an openly liberal, far-left candidate 53 percent of the vote (the first Democrat to receive over 50 percent of the vote since Jimmy Carter)? Well, political control of our government (now dominated by the Democrats) tells one story but the voter referendums tell another story. 86 percent of Missourians voted to make English the official language of the state, 57 percent of Nebraskans voted down affirmative action in education and hiring decisions, and three states (Florida, Arizona, and California—yes, California) voted to amend their state constitutions to ban gay marriage.

And despite the lofty predictions, voter turnout rose this year, but not substantially, and not anywhere near the highest turnout ever. So far, the numbers show that 123.5 million people turned out to vote, up just over a million from the 122.3 million that turned out in 2004. The African-American vote only increased from 11 percent to 13 percent this year, but Obama garnered 93 percent of their vote vs. the 88 percent garnered by Kerry in 2004. That was enough in to make a substantial difference, handing the election to Obama, with an 8 million vote lead in the popular vote, 66 million to McCain’s nearly 58 million. Additionally, McCain underperformed Bush in most counties and states, which means that with turnout almost identical, Obama did not win—McCain lost. The Republicans failed to turn out for McCain as they did for Bush in 2004 and 2000 (maybe they were discouraged by the polls and media?) and Obama handily won the Independents, due to anti-Bush fatigue.

That being said, the GOP was beaten badly and must now re-brand, re-group, and re-form. The party must return to its roots while devising pro-growth, free-market solutions for today’s problems, instead of relying on traditional buzzwords, sound bites, and nostalgic appeals to the Reagan era. Reagan’s success was due to his innate ability to create a center-right coalition, communicate his principles, and find solutions to the problems of the 1980s. We must do the same—we need to emulate Reagan in style and method, but not in solutions—we must combat the problems of the 21st century with solutions rooted in local control, limited government, and free markets—we know liberals will rely on higher taxes and an ever-growing government behemoth, but it takes skill, effort, and the masterful art of communication to respond to these challenges head-on with free-market solutions that the American people will respond to and embrace.

It would be easy for us to hide, to become depressed, to want to crawl into our holes and just shrug everything off. We need to stay and fight, hold the Obama administration and its fans in the media accountable, and ready to seize on the opportunities that occur when the spell wears off, there is no longer a buzz, and Americans realize that these ultra-liberal policies are not helping, but hurting them, and Obama's promises were just that--unfulfilled promises. We need to be ready to lead and ready to present a bold, unmistakable alternative to help the country wake from it's ill-considered jolt to the left. It starts with the congressional elections in 2010, and the next presidential election in 2012.

We need to build the grassroots organizations now to compete with the Moveon.orgs and Daily Kos' of the left. We need to expand and develop our use of electronic technologies in reaching out to voters, and we need a coordinated, strategic youth outreach effort to bring youth back into the fold (Reagan and Bush 41 won the youth vote; Republicans must and can bring these voters back into the fold). Lastly, we need a younger, more inspirational and more relatable generation of new, reform-minded Republicans in tune with our ideals who can reach out to a broad cross-section of America. We need Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Eric Cantor, Michael Steele, Linda Lingle, Tim Pawlenty, Norm Coleman, Mike Pence, Mario Diaz-Balart, Devin Nunes, Marsha Blackburn, John Thune, Kevin McCarthy, and many others. This is our party. Let's take it back.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Spread the Wealth"

If there is to be an upset of historic proportions in this campaign, and McCain confounds conventional wisdom, the pundits, and the odds, he will have one man to thank: Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. Obama's campaign invaded Joe's neighborhood, coming to his yard, and Joe had the audacity to ask a tough question--one that the media has been awol on for the entire campaign--and received a suprisingly truthful (if unintentional) answer: "I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody," Obama stated. Never has so much been said in so few words. Obama is someone who doesn't resent or regret tax increases--he thrives on them, and requires them. He sees western Europe's economies as the models for the United States; he knows that if he is elected, taxes will be raised on not only the rich, but also the middle class, because there is no way he can afford to spend billions for his new programs while only taxing the rich--the money is just not there. We have insight and an intriguing view into Obama's worldview with this exchange between "The One" and Joe the Plumber. The question is: will America wake up in time?
This may be one of those moments that turns the tide of the entire campaign.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Races to Watch: KS State House

With several open seats this cycle, the KS legislature will look very different come January 2009. Here's a look at some of the top races:

1. 24th District--Ronnie Metsker (R) vs. Jim Slattery (D)
When Metsker was selected by Republican precinct committee members to fill the vacany left by Rep. Ed O'Malley's departure, he was consider the more conservative candidate. In his almost 2 years in office, Metsker has skillfully navigated the moderate-conservative divide in the state and positioned himself as an authority on education in this district, gaining the endorsement of several education special-interest groups (also assisted in no small part by his wife, Susan, who sits on the Shawnee Mission School Board). This time around, Metsker faces Mike Slattery, son of U.S. Senate candidate Jim Slattery, who won his race against former 2006 Democratic challenger Andy Sandler by only a few votes literally. This district encompasses the KC inner-ring suburbs of Mission, Northern Overland Park, and Southern Roeland Park, and is becoming increasingly liberal (as proven by O'Malley's single digit win in 2006 and the fact that the 24th was the only house district in Johnson County to go for Kerry in the 2004 election). Slattery has greater name recognition in the 2006 Democratic challenger, Andy Sandler, but since voters are unlikely to send his dad to congress, we are going to bet they will not send his son to the legislature either. The close Democratic primary left some wounds that have been slow to heal, and we do expect the increase in turnout and the new voter registration numbers to have an impact, but we expect Metsker to pull out a 4-5 point win.

2. 16th District--Jim Yonally (R) vs. Gene Rardin (D)
Yonally held this Overland Park/eastern Lenexa seat (which follows 95th Street to Quivira south to 119th Street, and includes such staples as Johnson County Community College and Oak Park Mall) until he was beaten by Dennis Kriegshauser in the 2006 primary, in one of the county's classic moderate-conservative battles. Kriegshauser then went on to lose by only 2 votes out of more than 8,000 cast, in an election marred by potential voter fraud and registration fraud. Rardin, a first term Democrat, has not done much in the capitol to warrant another term, but he has worked the district and has more signs up and fundraising appeals. Yonally escaped the prospect of a bruising primary, and as a moderate, should be a lock for this district, but there are indications that he has not worked as hard as he should and has been slow to organize. High Democratic turnout and enthusiasm may be a factor, but that will also be blunted by high and energized Republican turnout in a presidential election year. Rumors concerning Rardin's deteriorating health may also affect voters' attitudes towards re-electing Rardin. Complete toss-up.

3. 22nd District--Lisa Benlon (D) vs. Joy Bourdess (R)
Sue Storm's decision to step down from this seat to run for State Board of Education puts this seat in play for the first time in more than 10 years. For many years, Storm served as the sole Democrat from Johnson County in this northern Overland Park-based district that takes in a sliver of Prairie Village and is bounded by 75th and Switzer on the west side, Nall on the east side, and 91st Street to the south. Lisa Benlon's decision to switch parties and run as a Democrat may be a factor, although Benlon enjoys a reputation and resume as a leading voice for public schools due to her previous work as a state representative (preceeding Stephanie Sharp in District 17) and her work in public relations for the American Cancer Society. However, Benlon is not running in her old district--she's a carpet bagger who made a deal with Storm to run as a Democrat and move to 22nd District, which will not sit well with some, and many just do not know her story and background. Joy Bourdess, homemaker and longtime GOP activist and resident of the district, is working hard and running an incredibly organized, grassroots, disciplined campaign, making this a tight race and the one race to watch for an upset--a chance for the GOP to take back a seat it hasn't held in years. This race may go down to the wire, but Joy's lack of real opposition in the primary and her early grassroots organization (contrasted to Benlon's slow start and perceived misplaced-confidence) could result in an upset, but Benlon does have the endorsement of Storm, which does matter in this left-leaning district. Just way too close to call.

4. 23rd District--August Bogina (R) vs. Milack Talia (D)
Judy Morrison retired after winning several razor-thin margins in this district, which includes eastern Shawnee (east of Quivira and Shawnee Mission Pkwy) and all of Merriam. Merriam's proximity to KC gives this district a high number of Democrats, producing very close races, including the 2006 election, in which Morrison only beat her heavily-underfunded opponent by 3 points. Shawnee Planning commissioner Bogina has name recognition in Shawnee, but the district only includes only 6 Shawnee precincts, so the challenge is for him to introduce himself to Merriam voters. Talia is known here, for his past failed election attempts and has been rejected, and has a reputation for negative attacks. This district is most likely to be impacted by increased Democratic registration, which gives Talia the boost, but Bogina's reputation and experience in the community ensures it will be close. The deal-closer: can Bogina reach out to conservative and moderate Dems in the same way Judy Morrison did to seal the deal? We give Talia an ever-so-slight edge in a race that is still too very close to call.

5. 18th District--John Rubin (R) vs. Cindy Neighbor (D)
My hometown district, and in many ways, a bellweather district that signals the political direction of the county at large. This seat (formerly held by Phil Kline) shifted back and forth between Mary Pilcher Cook and Cindy Neighbor in GOP primary battles between 2000-2004 like clockwork (Mary won in 2000, Cindy won the primary in 2002, Mary won again in 2004) until Cindy joined the Democratic party and managed a razor-thin 159 vote win over Cook out of more than 8,000 votes cast in a Democratic-tidal wave year. This time, Mary's running for Nick Jordan's senate seat, and newcomer John Rubin brings gravitas with his experience as an FDIC judge, federal administrative law judge, and a jurist in the Navy JAG corps--experience that is especially relevant considering the state of the economy. Cindy, meanwhile, has displayed somewhat erratic behavior while in office and on the campaign trail. She tried to block the implemention of Alexa's law, which charged those who killed a pregnant woman with a double crime--for taking the life of the mother and her unborn baby. Cindy tried unsuccessfully to kill the bill in committee than reluctantly supported it in a full house vote. Her cheesy mailers that read more like a high school senior's resume than an accomplished legislator, combined with her propensity for rudeness towards constituents and comments that come across as out of touch (in reference to seniors being unable to pay their property taxes under her proposals, she opines that they should have planned better), makes this seat a top GOP target. Many Democrats in the district have been disappointed in her, and if we are to see a large crossover vote for any candidate, it will occur here, among more moderate Dems. No libertarian is running this year, so Rubin has the slight edge. Voters here seem to be schizophrenic in who they choose, making this a classic swing district, but with a new face on the ballot in a year no worse for Republicans than 2006, an energized GOP base voting in a presidential election, and a lack of opposition from the right, Rubin has the slight edge and should pull out an upset in the low to mid single digits.

Stay tuned as we profile the last two races to watch: 19th District: John Skubal (R) vs. Dolores Furtado (D) and 39th District: Owen Donohoe (R) vs. Joe Novak (D)

Races to Watch: District Attorney and State Senate

It’s a blockbuster election year, not only on the national level but on the local level as well. Here in Kansas, only one thing is certain: Sen. Pat Roberts will be re-elected handily. Dennis Moore is in the fight of his life to hold on to the KS 3rd congressional district after revelations of his involvement in the financial mess, and the 2nd District race between Jenkins and Boyda is a tossup—with the edge going to Jenkins.

Here, just like in 2006, we will profile Johnson County’s hot races—the races that will be the closest and can go either way.

District Attorney: This ho-hum race lacks passion and excitement, but Republican turncoat-turned Democrat Rick Guinn is flush with money, endorsements, and has TV ads up. Howe has less money, but has the GOP united behind his candidacy. Despite Guinn’s financial advantage, this race leans Republican, due to the county’s GOP leanings, and the fact that Howe is not Kline—and has all Republicans supporting his candidacy.

State Senate:

1. 8th District—Tim Owens vs. Judy Macy
This central Overland Park-based senate district, formerly held by Barbara Allen, went for Bush in 2004 55 to 45 percent. Macy is a former legislator and has some name ID, but she’s been removed from politics many years, and does not enjoy the same level of recognition and experience as Owens, a former Army officer, OP city councilman, and current state representative. Owens has the distinct advantage in this race, but the vote margin will be modest, not large, and Macy has the ability to ensure a competitive race right through election day. In the end, Owens should definitely come out the winner—just not by a landslide, most likely a margin in the high single digits.

2. 10th District—Mary Pilcher Cook vs. Pete Roman
Sen. Nick Jordan vacated this seat to run for congress against Dennis Moore. Cook stunned her critics when she won her primary against State Board of Education member Sue Gamble by 14 points—a much larger margin of victory than expected. The 10th district takes in most of eastern Shawnee, Lake Quivira, and a portion of northeastern Lenexa, making it much less reliably conservative than Cook’s former house district. Although Cook is much more conservative than Jordan, who united the party and retained the seat for a decade, she still has the advantage in this Republican-leaning district, against Pete Roman, a perennial Democratic candidate who has run for this seat many times. Still, this will be a fight—the KS Democratic Party is pouring money into this race to aid Roman, and amount of mailers and calls ensures this will be one of the most watched races this cycle. Cook as shown that she is a prolific fundraiser though, and should pull out a win in the low to mid single digits.

1. 9th District—Julia Lynn vs. Ron Wimmer
This reliably conservative district takes in portions of southwest Lenexa and a broad swath of Olathe. Normally not in play, Olathe Superintendent Ron Wimmer’s decision to run as a Democrat puts this race at the top of the list. Wimmer, a former Republican, is no liberal, and his experience in education and moderate stances will garner attention from many voters, as evidenced by some of his supporters, including JoCo movers and shakers such as Ben Craig and Bank of Blue Valley president Bob Regnier. However, even though she took Kay O’Connor’s place, Julia Lynn is not a polarizing figure, yet she is a stalwart conservative who is known for impeccable constituent services and keeping open lines of communication with her district. She is in the fight of her life, and really, this race could go either way, but Lynn’s very likable, and her ability to lock up her base early, work across the aisle, and vote her district (even at odds against her own base at times) will work to her advantage, so we predict she will squeak out a 3-5 point win. This will be the closest state senate race in the county.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Moore's ties to the financial crisis exposed!

Nick Jordan’s campaign announced yesterday that just last year, Moore and five other house members sponsored a bill to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

This euphemistic bill, however, included an amendment that "guts the one provision that made it worth the effort,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Federal regulators would not longer be able to adjust or limit the size of loans issued by the mortgage giant—even if they were too large and might pose risk to the financial system.

Of course, we all know that the mortgage mess led to the collapse of the housing bubble, the increase in debt, the failure of many financial institutions and the current financial crisis. We now know that not only was Dennis Moore partially to blame, he willingly and proactively blocked the very regulations which would have prevented the financial meltdown.

Is this a surprise? Of course not—Moore has accepted campaign contributions of more than $30,000 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He’s just looking out for his friends, giving them political favors and paying them back in a typical Washington, political quid pro quo, the kind of corrupt and abusive politics Americans detest.

Even more astonishing and in the same vein, Moore received $34,000 in contributions from companies that benefited from the $700 billion bailout passed just a few weeks ago.

10 years of corrupt, status quo politics or a fresh new face with years of verifiable accomplishments on the state and local level? That will be for the voters to decide on Nov. 4th.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nick Jordan's Newest Ad

Clear, concise, and effective. This ad takes Moore to task for his support of the largest corporate bailout in history, and his financial ties to the financial culprits.

After years of slyly running negative ads on his opponents, Moore is now in the hotseat for his record (or lack thereof), his financial ties, and his controversial vote of the largest corporate bailout in history.

Jordan v. Moore

Nick Jordan and Dennis Moore debated this past Sunday at JCCC. Having attended these congressional debates the past 2 cycles (Ahner in 2006, Kobach in 2004), I was struck by the number of Jordan supporters present: this was the first year that Republican supporters outnumbered Moore supporters significantly.

Also, unlike previous years, instead of coming across as upbeat, happy, and bipartisan, Dennis was snippy, tired, frustrated and petty. His futile attempts to link Jordan and President Bush were straight out of the Washington Democratic playbook, and his inability to talk about his own record was apparent. Jordan strategically challenged him on his support of the $700 billion bailout (Moore was the only member of the Kansas delegation--Republican or Democrat--to support the controversial Wall Street bailout). Moore dodged questions regarding his failure to hold hearings as a member of the financial services committee and his thousands of dollars in contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, instead arrogantly accusing Jordan of not knowing or talking to the "right" people as he did (the Treasury secretary, the president, and congressional leaders--who are all responsible for this mess in the first place). Jordan called Moore out on his hypocrisy--you cannot claim to be a fiscal conservative concerned about the national debt and criticize the president when you turn around and vote for the most expensive corporate bailout in history, adding $1 trillion to the national debt.

The best moment of the debate came when Moore defended his lackluster record by claiming that the President had not provided any leadership. Jordan replied that an effective congressman does not wait for the president to lead--he himself leads.

The debate was a knockout and Moore lost. I have never seen him this bitter and tired.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bad News Boyda casts a vote for corruption

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, is under investigation for tax fraud and not reporting income and assets, such as his property in the Caribbean, for the past decade at least.

Nancy Boyda originally promised a complete investigation, but then blocked a vote on the investigation and voted against removing him from his powerful chairmanship. Could it be because Rep. Rangel has given "Bad News Boyda" over $22,000 in campaign contributions?

Someone who cannot pay their own taxes should not be managing the taxpayers' money. Nancy Boyda was more than willing to stand up to General Petraeus and rudely walk out when he was speaking. Yet she's unwilling to take on a corrupt member of her own party, a flagrant and unrepentant porkbarreler who recently misappropriated taxpayer funds to fund the building of a center in his name in his home district.

Looks like "Bad News Boyda" is unwilling to tell Rangel the bad news, but she has no qualms disrespecting an honorable military general. Looks like she's fitting in well with the do-nothing congress which promises more of the same and politics as usual.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Konnection gets a facelift...

The Konnection is currently undergoing major style, design, and formatting changes. I've finally decided to move over to Blogger's new platform, which is more streamlined and offers user-friendly approaches to integrating multimedia technology with blogging--something that required much knowledge of HTML code before and tedious time trying to facilitate placement of those applications on the web blog.

First and foremost, we are glad to have our own logo (recently modified) but now front and center at the top of the webpage.

The Konnection has also decided to provide you with easy access to Republican candidates and their campaign websites with the "Campaign Central" section in the right sidebar, which will list Republican candidates in Kansas and include their bright, flashy logos for one-click transfer to their campaign websites. We will be adding more candidates to the section as time goes on, and wnat it to serve as a resource for information on federal, state, and local candidates.

Watch for more changes to the blog to faciliate more user feedback, interaction, discussion, and greater use of multimedia content.

And let me know what you think or what you would like to see added.

Vote or Die? Not quite, but the word "vote" was said at least a dozen times in last night's Emmys

So last night the Emmys took place, and if you're anything like me, you were curious to see how political the awards would be. I was watching to see if the best comedy in the world, NBC's "The Office," would clean up the show, but the winner of many awards was the extremely biased HBO miniseries Recount, which chronicled the 2000 election and recount hysteria in Florida--from the viewpoint that the Bush campaign stole the election.

Presenter after presenter implored Americans to vote this year, and it was painfully obvious that each presenter wanted to tell Americans whom to vote for, but they were also aware of the backlash that would cause among fans and viewers and they didn't want to hurt Obama's election as they hurt Kerry's bid in 2004. Martin Sheen urged voters to vote "at least once" on Election Day. I was puzzled by that--did I hear correctly or was that a not-so-subtle endorsement of voter fraud? Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert managed to get away with what the presenters could not do explicitly--be political. Colbert's musings on his bag of prunes and how an "old, shriveled prune" was the choice for him this year, even though it would be four more years of the same, produced smirks from the Hollywood elite, but came across as overused, not funny, and too overtly political. Colbert and Stewart were singing to the choir--now, if they has joked about Obama too, they might have come across as equal-opportunity offenders, but of course they would not dare do that. Too bold, too risky.

Overall, despite the explicit attempts to be apolitical, the Emmys (ironically) were staged with heavy political undertones, and the fact that a provocative, politically-biased miniseries reaped the most awards and attention only added to politically-charged atmosphere at the awards show last night. And having each celebrity presenter extol the virtues of voting and urge us commoners to vote does not endear me to their cause or candidate. They just come across sounding preachy, and when you watch an awards show, you want to be entertained--you are trying to escape politics and political lecures. So, in a nutshell, I do not think the tactic of trying to be neutral and encourage Americans to vote for Obama was successful.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dennis Moore puts party first, country second

Unlike Sen. McCain, our own 3rd District congressman Dennis Moore chose to put his party first and his country second today when he signed on to Nancy Pelosi's energy plan, instead of a comprosmise plan backed by House Democrats and Republicans.

Dennis Moore will say that this plan "compromises" by allowing drilling and funding alternatives to oil, but the plan does:

  • DOES NOT permit drilling within 50 miles of the U.S. coast, although 90 percent of known oil reserves are in this area!

  • DOES NOT permit drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The area proposed for drilling occupies just 2,000 acres (0.01 percent) of the more than 20,000 million acres. And this area is desolate and inhabited by few lifeforms.

Dennis Moore has consistently opposed energy exploration and has always voted AGAINST drilling in ANWR in Alaska. The do-nothing congressman who few in congress have heard of does do a good job though of impeding economic progress and ensuring that gas prices remain high.

Had enough? Call Dennis Moore at (202) 225-2865 and tell him to put his country first and his party second.

10 years is enough. We need "more" out of Washington, and that requires that we vote "Moore" out of Washington. Vote Nick Jordan for congress on Nov. 4th. Visit or

Monday, September 15, 2008

McCaskill claims McCain will jail rape victims who have abortions

Outrageous? A complete lie? You bet.

From the desparate Missouri Senator:

“If women are going to kick the tires,” McCaskill said, “they’re going to find out that this is a ticket that wants to put women in prison for having an abortion after they have been raped.”

Apparently, the senator needs help with some facts. Fact #1: McCain has always been in favor of an exception for victims of rape and incest. Fact #2: If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the issue would go back to the states, and there is no indication that abortion would carry a jail sentence. On the contrary, many crimes have no sentence and do not merit prosecution.

Congressional Quarterly correctly called out the senator on her desparate attempt to keep Obama's campaign alive.

If you live in Missouri and you've had enough, call Claire's D.C. office, and tell her that you think it is despicable to slander and outright lie about McCain's record like this. Tell her you've had enough with this level of fraud and deception and that these types of scare tactics have no place in this election. Tell Claire to stop working for Barack Obama and to start working for Missouri.

Call Claire at (202) 224-6154 and let's send a message that this level of vitriole and deception will not be tolerated.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gallup congressional poll shows Republicans gaining

In a stunning reversal, Republicans are now within a few points or leading Democrats in the generic congressional ballot question which asks voters which party's candidate they would support in their congressional district election. Just a few months ago, Democrats held a 15 point lead, 55-40 percent. Now, Republicans have closed that deficit to just 3 points (a 48-45 Democratic lead among registered voters) and among likely voters, Republicans now lead by 5 points, 50-45 percent. See more here.

Additionally, the enthusiam gap among voters of both parties has tightened. While Democrats enjoyed a double-digit lead in enthusiasm for their candidate for most of the year, Republicans are about just as enthusiastic as their counterparts, 60 percent to 67 percent.

As Republicans gain in congressional election polls, McCain continues to lead Obama in national polls and gain on leads on most issues of importance to the American people, and Sarah Palin continues to have higher favorability ratings than all 3 other national candidates, Democrats are taking note of this ominous sign. A recent news article interviews several Democratic candidates who fret that McCain's popularity and Obama's gaffes and inability to connect with voters will damage their party's chances in November. Campaign managers of Democrats running in swing districts are urging their candidates to distance themselves from Obama and refrain from attacking McCain.

"Democrats on Capitol Hill Fear Obama Fallout (Financial Times)"

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Palin Pick: By the Numbers

  • The indefensible, heavy-handed media-driven attacks on Palin have backfired. Rassmussen polling shows that 51 percent of Americans believe reporters are trying to hurt Palin with their news coverage.
  • The attack against her as being inexperienced is not working: 44 percent of Americans believe Palin is more experienced than Obama to be President of the United States
  • Palin's favorability ratings stand at 58 percent--surpassing McCain, Obama, and Biden. Palin's counterpart on the Democratic side--Joe Biden--is only viewed favorably by less than half of American voters--48 percent
  • Republicans (89 percent) and Independents (52 percent) believe Palin helps McCain. Only 69 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Independents believe Biden helps Obama

The Polls

  • McCain now leads in most of the major polls: He leads Obama in the National Gallup Poll by 3 points (48 to 45 percent)
  • McCain leads Obama in the Zogby poll, 50-46 percent
  • And the first double-digit lead in the race so far this year: Gallup/USA Today polls shows McCain leading Obama 54-44 percent among likely voters--a 10 point lead and the largest so far this year!
  • Survey USA shows McCain leading now on most issues of concern to the American public. The poll data reveals that voters believe McCain has a better plan for Iraq (14 point advantage), a better plan for energy independence (12 points), a better plan for healthcare (1 point advantage) and a better plan for education (5 point advantage). Obama's only lead is on environmental issues (and he only has an 8 point advantage).

Republican Convention tops DNC in viewers

McCain's acceptance speech made history for the most number of viewers ever to watch a candidate's acceptance speech primetime at a party convention. 38.9 million people watched McCain accept the nomination of the GOP--500,000 more than those who watched Obama give his media-driven, much anticipated speech among the gaudy ruins of a Greek Temple before 80,000 at Invesco Field.

Of course, the excitement and energy needed to boost McCain's ratings over Obama's came from Sarah Palin's speech the night before, which was incredibly impressive and successful: 37.2 million viewers, coming extremely close to Obama's 38.4 million viewers. Biden's VP speech only garnered 24 million viewers.

By choosing fellow maverick Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be on his ticket, McCain was able to do what no one thought he could do: breathe new life into what was expected to be a less enthused RNC, less anticipated and less watched. The RNC matched the DNC in enthusiam, excitement, and exceeded them in ratings and viewership. McCain has now also erased Obama's short and small convention bounce and has overtaken a lead that is above the margin of error in most current polling surveys.


Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain taps Sarah Palin as VP!

The GOP dream ticket is here. Sarah Palin, the 44-year old reformer who took on the Alaska GOP establishment, is running on the ticket with McCain. A youthful, dynamic political newcomer and reformer who has solid conservative credentials, Palin has the opportunity to become the first female vice president of the United States and will court independent women voters and disaffected Hillary supporters. Palin is one of the most popular elected officials in the nation--her approval rating is in the 80s.

While Obama chose to go with a blast from the past, McCain broke with the past and has opted for a fresh march to the future. Obama is ready to return to the politics of the past: big government, high taxes, expensive programs. Hope? Change you can believe in? More like change that you can recognize because it was tried in the 1960s and '70s. Obama proposes nothing new--more money, more regulation, retaining the status quo when it comes to excessive government regulation, restriction of energy sources, jobs fleeing overseas, failing schools, and a policy of non-intervention and timidity in world affairs. Do we really want four more years of Jimmy Carter? We've tried this before. Americans who want a clear break from the Carter years and a real change (grounded in actual policy proposals and accountability, not just more spending) from the Bush years should vote for the McCain-Palin ticket--independence, experience, reform--America First.

Back in March, we at the Konnection listed Palin as one of our top 10 VP pics for McCain. This is what we had to say about her then and we stand by it:

Young, attractive, beautiful, and savvy Alaska governor ran on ethics reform and has helped clean up the corruption of former GOP Governor Frank Murkowski. She was also the most popular governor in the nation--last summer, her approval rating hovered in the low 90s.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The gift that just keeps giving: Obama insults KC by mistaking it for St. Louis

Everyone from the KC metro knows that Kansas City and St. Louis are major rivals--from conventions and tourist dollars to legislative appropriations and funding, these two I-70 rivals have always fought to have the upper hand, and the 1985 World Series between the Royals and the Cardinals was a spirited demonstration of the intense rivalry between citizens of the two cities.

Barack Obama was in Kansas City tonight to speak to airline workers bracing for an upcoming round of layoffs, and while addressing delegates during the first night of the DNC in Denver by satellite, Obama mistakenly said he was in St. Louis. His daughter had to correct him by saying "where are you, Daddy?" to which Obama hastily mumbled, "oh, Kansas City."

Excuse me? I know that we should just expect these flaps (like when Obama said he had campaigned in all 57 American states, an odd flap unless he was thinking about the 57 internationally recognized Islamic states of the world), but this is getting ridiculous. It's an insult and slight to Kansas City when he confuses us with St. Louis--and he's spending the night here!

I expected more from the savior of the planet and the "The One." But it's not like St. Louis and Kansas City have similar sounding names, or are interchangable--the cities could not be more different--opposite sides of the state, opposite histories, opposite cultures.

Obama is either just lazy or completely uninformed and unprepared. In either case, these latest examples prove that the state senator and community activist from Illinois who has yet to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate is not ready to to be leader of the free world.

Joe Biden: Obama's gift to the Republicans

Thank you so much Barack Obama! You passed up your best opportunity to win (Hillary Clinton), you opted not to appeal to moderate voters in swing states (Evan Bayh, Tim Kaine), and you opted not to appeal to disgruntled female Hillary supporters (Kathleen Sebelius). Obama instead chose to play it safe and go with a longtime D.C. insider and power player. Looks like the candidate of change is quickly becoming the candidate of status quo.

Just what does Joe Biden bring to the ticket? He ensures Obama will win Delaware. Now Obama can be confident he'll win "The First State" by 12 points instead of just 10. Additionally:
  • Joe Biden has been in the Senate for 30 years--longer than McCain.
  • Biden's criticism of Obama from the primaries will be replayed by McCain--namely, that Obama is untested, unprepared and not experienced enough to be president
  • On an episode of Comdedy Central's The Daily Show, Biden said he would be honored to run on a national ticket with McCain because he believed the country would be better off
  • Biden's January 2007 comments, which will live on in infamy, especially with the twist of irony in Obama's selection of Biden as VP. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
  • Joe Biden voted against the first resolution to use force in the first Gulf War (1991) but voted for the authorization to use force against Iraq in 2003. Can someone explain this one to me? And since Obama railed against Hillary for her vote for the war, and used it as a battle cry for why he should be elected instead (citing his "judgment"), how can we now trust his judgment when he chose an opponent who voted exactly as Hillary did? If that one voted disqualified Hillary for national office, according to Obama, why does it not disqualify Biden?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What's in a label? (Conservative, Moderate, Liberal)

Lately, I've been pondering the use of labels by the local media outlets here in Kansas City and I think many are coming to the realization of how labels are incorrectly applied. For full disclosure, I consider myself a moderate conservative, but I've been called a liberal and a far-right conservative at different times (when you're running for office, it's especially entertaining to receive email side-by-side accusing me of representing opposite sides of the spectrum).

I find it revealing that in Kansas, according to our local news media, there is no such thing as a "liberal" Democrat. All Democrats are "moderates" (including Dennis Moore, who now votes with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats 97 percent of the time, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Nancy Boyda, and others). Despite liberal voting records and professed solidarity with the fringe of their party, Democrats in Kansas are always "moderates. On the contrary, at least according to Johnson County's own opinion tabloid The Sun, there is no such thing as a conservative, only "ultra conservatives." All other Republicans are moderates.

Other terms like "mainstream" are apparently owned and monopolized by certain special interest groups--attempts to use this age-old, un-registered moniker will land you in hot water by those who think they have enough money and influence to own words.

Of course, this phenomenon is not restricted to the local media. I cringe when I hvear McCain referred to as a liberal--he may not be very conservative, but he is no liberal--he has a solid pro-life voting record, has supported the military, and voted for spending limits, spending cuts and an end to earmarks. Mike Huckabee, on the other hand, is referred to as a conservative primarily for his pro-life and anti-gay marriage platform. Yet Huckabee supported increased taxes, increased spending, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants in Arkansas, and opposed school choice. Yet somehow, he is labeled by many as a conservative. And Rudy Giuliani, who is pro-abortion, is the best example of conservative city governance in American history and one of the most fiscally-conservative mayors in the country, is frequently referred to as a moderate or a liberal. And the best example--the media love to still refer to George W. Bush as a conservative despite a record over the last four years that deviates significantly from conservative principles.

Point of the story: these words are not owned by anybody, and be wary when supposedly non-partisan special interest groups and mainstream media outlets tend to use these terms as identifiers when referring to candidates and personalities. Do your own research--one or two issues does not identify you ideologically, or even a tendency to win elections on normally unfriendly turf for your party. Look at a candidate's record, their governing philosophy, their stance on a broad range of issues, and examine how a candidate approaches the issues, their role, their relationship with colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and their responsibility to their constituents. That matters much more than media or special interest-driven political labels of convenience.

Monday, August 18, 2008

You're either with us or against us: Dems punish another member for stepping out of line

Time and Time again, the Democrats have extended a fake olive branch to moderates and independent thinkers only to yank it back anytime a representative decides to vote their district or exercise their independent judgment.

We saw it with Joe Liebermann in 2006 and more recently here in KS with Mark Gilstrap, as he became the first KS Democrat and sitting incumbent to be betrayed and cannibalized by his own party and the sitting governor for daring to be pro-life and fiscally responsible. Also, just this week, Nancy Pelosi announced that if the Dems gain more seats in the Senate in this November's elections, Liebermann could be "punished" for his support of John McCain by being removed from certain committees and chairmanships he currently enjoys.

Now we have a California legislator who exercised her own judgment and voted against the Democratic-backed budget and now faces her punishment--the relinquishment of her Capitol office. See this story here.

The message Democrats seem to be sending: remain loyal to the party above all else (country, district, constituents) or face retaliation. It begins with losing chairmanships and other perks and will eventually lead to outright opposition by the highest officials in government: governors, sentators and congressmen.

The Dems on the federal level down to the state level seem to be saying arrivederci to any party member who refuses to advance the agenda of the extreme, leftist fringe. The Dems will find that this may be a good way to consolidate power, but it's not a smart strategy for retaining power.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Obama losing, McCain gaining key voting segments

McCain has gained on Obama among several key segments according to a new Zogby poll:

  • McCain has gained on Obama among several key segments according to a new Zogby poll:
  • Obama only has an 11-point edge now among voters 18-29 years old, leading 49-38 percent. McCain has gained 20 points
  • Obama now only leads by 5 points among women, 43-38 percent for McCain. McCain has gained 10 points on Obama
  • Obama has lost an 11 point lead among independents. He and McCain are now tied.
    Obama’s support among Democrats has dropped from 83 to 74 percent
  • Obama 11 point lead among Catholics has evaporated; McCain now leads Obama in the Catholic vote by a 15 point margin

    More on the findings of this poll can be found

Monday, August 04, 2008

Tomorrow is Primary Day...

Get out and vote!

Two Primary Endorsements...

The Konnection tends to stay out of primaries, but we are taking the unusual step of making a primary endorsement in two races. First, the Konnection wholeheartedly endorses Steve Howe for Johnson County District Attorney. One questions how effective Kline’s campaign will be if Kansas Democrats are able to tie every Republican running for office to Kline, resulting in a loss of several house seats in Johnson County and the major loss of the campaign season—Nick Jordan’s attempt to take out Dennis Moore. We have a chance to elect a Republican to congress and advance the Republican agenda locally, and all of that would be cast in serious doubt with a Kline candidacy. Is it really worth it to lose ground in multiple races across the state just to make a point? Tomorrow, Johnson Countians will have the opportunity to elect a seasoned prosecutor and committed conservative in Steve Howe.

Additionally, the Konnection endorses Lynn Jenkins in the 2nd District primary to take on Democratic incumbent Nancy Boyda. We want to stress that both challengers are worthy and good Republicans to take on Boyda, and we believe both can win (Boyda’s incompetence and ineptitude ensure a competitive race no matter what). We believe that in an election year where Washington establishment figures are more unpopular than ever, and voters are looking outside of Washington for problem-solvers, Lynn Jenkins offers the best hope to turn the 2nd district red again. Jenkins is running on a solid conservative platform—tax cuts, sealing the borders, and controlling spending—highlighting the failure of Republicans on those issues in the past and the need of Republicans to stick to these core principles if they ever want to be in power again. Ryun’s long tenure in Washington and record, while praiseworthy and solidly commendable for the most part, are not what voters seek at this time—they want outsiders, not insiders. The Kansas state treasurer offers the best chance to re-gain this seat for the GOP, and we trust that she will stick to her principles. Do we agree with Lynn on everything? Certainly not—we don’t agree with Ryun on everything either. But overall, Lynn’s platform strikes a tone and tenor of reform, the same type of reform that led Newt Gingrich and the Republicans to gain the House of Representatives in the revolution of 1994. It is that kind of aggressive, bold stand that we want to see from Republican candidates this year, and Lynn epitomizes local Kansas values of hard work and self-reliance, service to state and community, bold advancement of basic conservative ideals, and an agenda of congressional reform.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brandon Kenig for State Board of Education

Well, as most of you already know, I've made the jump from blogging and working on local campaigns to local electoral politics. I'm running for Sue Gamble's place on the State Board of Education for District 2. I'm running on a platform of Accountability, local control, and ensuring our students retain a competitive edge in the global economy.

For more information on my campaign, check out my new campaign website:

You can sign up on my website as a supporter, endorse me, and donate to me via PayPal.

It's time to get back to the basics--science and math--while preparing our students for the jobs of tomorrow, not the jobs of yesterday.
Vote Brandon Kenig for State Board of Education in the August 5th Republican primary
Your financial support will be put to good use:
$20 buys 6 yard signs
$10 buys 75 palmcards
$20 buys 6 yard signs
$35 covers the cost of 30 mailings

Friday, July 18, 2008

RightOnline Summit

I'm attending the RightOnline Summit in Austin, TX. It's the first-ever national meeting of all bloggers right-of-center (moderates, conservatives, libertarians). The hope is that the bloggers will network and integrate their efforts, producing a stronger and powerful force that is more united and uniform in voice and message to compete with the liberal netroots like and the DailyKos. The liberal netroots are also meeting in Austin this weekend, just down the road.

In Memoriam: Tony Snow

No amount of words can define or uniquely capture the Renaissance man who was Tony Snow. An adoring father, a loving husband, a patriot who served his country in the military and in public service, a journalist, a radio show host, a pundit, and press secretary to the President of the United States.

Tony Snow reverberated with an upbeat optimism that constantly permeated everyone and everything around him. He was a conservative who disagreed with liberals without ever being disagreeable and did more than most of his contemporaries in attracting new followers to the movement.

I've had the opportunity to hear and see Tony Snow on many occasions. I'll never forget the last time I saw him at the CPAC conference this past February in Washington, D.C. Snow was selected to give the closing speech of the conference, and at a time when Republicans were more disillusioned than ever with the president, the Iraq war, oil prices, Democratic excitement at expanding their majorities in the house and senate, the presidential campaign...Tony gave a speech that was uplifting, encouraging and much more than the usual pep talk. His optimism and urgency regarding the 2008 elections encouraged many to pledge on the spot to do their parts in helping to elect Republicans in their local areas and talk with friends and neighbors to get McCain elected in 2008.

A man of principle, Tony Snow was never afraid to criticize his own party when necessary (Snow's criticicism of Bush's policies and spending binges were just one example). But Snow also saw the big picture: he recognized that we cannot just throw out the half loaf of bread because we can't have the full loaf. He could easily frame the realities for the average person and demonstrate the urgency in electing McCain or other Republicans to ensure the Democratic majority does not have unchecked, unlimited power, to ensure a checks-and-balances remain in place. Snow recognized that overarching issues such as the war on terror and national security are more important than individual idelogical disgreements on campaign finance reform or global warming or even immigration, and that the the selection of U.S. Supreme Court justices over the next 8 years would affect the ideological direction of the country long-term much more than one candidate's position on one issue.

The country mourns over the loss of a national figure in journalism who brought out the best in all of us. In just a month since the death of another iconic and responsible journalist, Tim Russert, we would do well to remember the messages of these men and how they lived their short lives, for they truly served as shining beacons of the impact and legacy that can be accomplished even when life is unfairly cut short.

We pray for Tony's family, and especially his children, that God will help them to always remember and understand how truly remarkable their father really was.

Tony Snow, always willing and able to utilize humor, told us in February:
"You know why Hillary and Obama are talking about change all the time? Well, that's because that's all that will be left in your pockets when they're through."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Trouble for Obama...

I was eating at the Shawnee Applebee’s the other night and I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between two young (late 20s-early 30s) Asian women out having drinks after work. Now, these young women struck me as savvy, sophisticated young suburbanites who had probably just settled into their careers (a glance at their jewelry and designer handbags indicated a socioeconomic status of upper-middle class).

The two women were chatting about the upcoming election. One mentioned to the other how she had supported Clinton in the primary to show her support for a woman candidate for president. But the woman admitted that the more she considered the race, she would have hesitated voting for Clinton in the general election. So, her friend asked, who was the best candidate to enact change?

“Well, with Hillary we would've had the Clinton saga all over again, the old scandals and possibly new. I don’t see how that represents any kind of change—Hillary has some good ideas, but she’s a throwback to the Clinton era, and everything it represented, good and bad.”

“Well, what about Obama—he is running as the “change” candidate after all,” her friend said.

“He is, and I was excited about him early on, but now there’s something about him that scares me. He has yet to be specific on just what kind of ‘change’ he’s for, or how he’d pay for it all. I don’t know—he’s treated like a rock star and everyone is getting swept up in this cult phenomenon without knowing any of the details. We know so little about him. I can’t completely say what it its, but I just don’t feel comfortable with him.”

“Well, surely you can’t think McCain represents change—he’s just like Bush isn’t he?” her friend argued.

“No, I don’t think you can say that. McCain’s more independent and he has upset people on both sides for speaking his mind. He’s been very critical of Bush and doesn’t have any ties to the administration. He’s bucked his own party many times and faced criticism from both sides—I don’t think you can say that about Obama and Clinton.”

“So you’re voting for McCain?”

“I don’t know…I feel too uncomfortable voting for Obama, but I don’t have a problem voting for McCain.”

This is the target demographic Obama needs to capture in order to win the presidency, what some pollsters have termed the "Sex and the City" women voters: young, 21-35 year old single, professional, career-minded women. This woman was also a minority and a Democratic primary voter who had supported Hillary. She’s now leaning towards McCain.

Not a good sign for the Obama campaign…

New Kansas blogs...

Wow, what a political season. With blockbuster primaries like the Steve Howe vs. Phill Kline race for District Attorney and the 10th state senate district primary between Mary Pilcher Cook and Sue Gamble, it is shaping up to be an interesting political year indeed. Even many of the Democrats in KS have primaries this year, and with soaring energy prices and approval of congress at an all-time low (in the single digits), Kansas’ two Democratic congressional incumbents—Nancy Boyda and Dennis Moore—will face tough races from popular and experienced Republican opponents. Moore is embroiled in a scandal involving his staff’s misuse of funds and work time to engage in political activity and Moore is facing heat from constituents for his opposition to offshore drilling and his lack of a solution to the energy crisis. Additionally, Republicans have the opportunity to make legislative gains in the legislature and whittle down Democratic-held seats in Johnson County to just 2 or possibly none.

Two new blogs will be added to my blogroll:

The Kansas Republican Party had revamped its website and added an interactive and innovating blog that tracks Democratic blunders in Kansas and highlights Republican solutions. Check out the state party’s new blog and new website:

Also, Nick Jordan’s new blog is making waves:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nick Jordan's grassoots campaign, Ryun's "positive" pledge...

The Konnection ran into Sen. Nick Jordan and some of his staff recently at the Burger King franchise near College Blvd. and Antioch--the franchise owned by JoCo County Commissioner David Lindstrom. In fact, Jordan and his staff were meeting with Lindstrom at the popular chain to discuss upcoming election strategy. Jordan and his staff then proceeded to make the rounds at the restaurant, handing out literature to restaurant patrons comparing Moore's record to Jordan's. Jordan was received positively by most of the lunch crowd--evidenced by almost no handouts left behind by departing customers. This is the type of grassroots politics that Kansans are hunger for, and if Jordan's campaign continues to reach out to the voters and make the case that Moore has become just another washed-up D.C. politician, Kansans will throw out the congressman who has now spent a decade in D.C. for a fresh, new face in what will be another anti-incumbent election. Will it be "Moore of the same" or a new direction built on ideas and innovation? That is for 3rd District residents to decide...

Jim Ryun emailed supporters, pledging to run a clean, positive primary campaign and extending an offer to Lynn Jenkins to do so as well. If Ryun is sincere, Republicans welcome the development, since his campaign was the first to go negative last year, personally attacking Jenkins' character and judgment as state treasurer and causing the Jenkin's campaign to fire back and accuse Ryun of being too cozy with lobbyists. The Konnection knows both candidates realize they must run positive, clean campaigns if either of them are to unite the party in November to defeat Boyda. We hope this isn't just showboating, and that Jenkins and Ryun focus on the issues and target Boyda's disasterous record instead of playing petty politics by attacking eachother.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Where in the world is Dennis Moore?

Kansas City Star's Primebuzz blog broke the story that Dennis Moore is somewhere abroad, likely in Europe, but his staff mysteriously refuses to say where he is, when he left, or when he will return. Oh and the reasoning? National security issues. We don't want Moore being attacked by terrorists. Even though congressmen and women travel all the time around the world, even to hot spots like Iraq and Israel while letting the press and their constituents know, apparently Dennis Moore is just way too important. Of course, this is a taxpayer-funded trip, and the residents of Johnson, Douglas, and Wyandotte counties deserve to know what their elected representative is doing for them. Apparently, Dennis doesn't think we deserve to know.

At least when the governor travels around the country every week campaigning for Obama on the taxpayer's dime, we know where she is. Unfortunately, Moore cannot give us the same courtesy. Another reason to vote out this out-of-touch congressman who's been in Washington for far too long.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Ben Hodge to run for Barbara Allen's state senate seat

The Konnection has learned that Rep. Ben Hodge (R-Overland Park) has announced that he will run for Sen. Barbara Allen's (R-Overland Park) state senate seat. Allen just announced that she will be stepping down after serving 20 years in the state legislature. Hodge, who succeeded Scott Schwab as representative of the 49th house district (parts of southern Overland Park and Olathe), is the first candidate to announce for Allen's seat.

The 8th district state senate seat includes a portion of Lenexa (stretching from Shawnee Mission Parkway to 79th and Switzer) and a portion of Overland Park (bounded by Quivira to the west and Nall to the east and stretching south to I-435 and 107th street). The 8th senate district voted for Bush in 2004, 55 percent to 44 percent, but the district only gave Kris Kobach 43 percent of their vote in his challenge to Congressman Dennis Moore that same year.

No Democrat has yet announced plans to run for the seat.

Continue to check the Konnection for further updates regarding this race.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Could the youth vote be up for grabs?

Barack Obama's greatest success to date is his ability to mobilize American youth, who have voted in overwhelming numbers in this year's primaries and caucuses. Without the large turnout of college students and 18-24 year olds, Hillary would currently be the nominee. It is always assumed that Democrats garner the youth vote and this was true in the past few elections (18-24 year olds supported Kerry over Bush in 2004, 56 to 44 percent. That same year, party identification among 18-24 year olds split 39 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, and 29 percent unaffiliated). Yet this was not always the case. Ronald Reagan won the youth vote by more than 20 points in 1980 and 1984 and George H.W. Bush also won the youth vote in 1988, although by a smaller margin.

And while most of the youth registered as Democrats to vote for Obama in the state-by-state contests, there are some encouraging signs for the GOP. In most contests, 18-24 year olds as a pecertage of total Democratic voters was usually only a point or two higher than the portion of 18-24 year olds as a percentage of total Republican voters--the largest difference occured in Iowa, where 22 percent of Democrats were 18-24 years old compared to only 11 percent of Republicans--this can be attributed to the excitement leading up to the first-in-the-nation caucuses and Obama's unprecedented campus mobilization effort. In two states--Arkansas and Connecticut--young voters (18-24) actually made up a greater proportion of Republican primary voters than Democratic primary voters. In three states, 18-24 year olds turned out in greater numbers to vote Republican than Democrat--in other words, a majority of 18-24 year olds who turned out to vote in Florida, Georgia, and Utah voted Republican.

And the Obama magic may be starting to wear off. A recent AP-Yahoo! News poll finds that 38 percent of 18-29 year olds support McCain vs. 37 percent for Obama (McCain wins young voters 43-28 percent against Hillary). Trying to obtain an accurate sample of youth is fairly difficult since many have only cell phones (no landlines) and are in college, moving back and forth from their personal places of residency to their campuses. Yet the poll shows that McCain's independent image as a maverick and reformer can help offset and neutralize Obama's appeal.

One thing is for sure: no party can afford to ignore the youth vote any longer. More than 10 million youth turned out to vote in the 2006 midterm elections, a 4 percent increase from 2004. Those numbers are expected to dramatically increase this year, making the "millenial" generation a powerful voting block and a force to be reckoned with in future elections.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Conservatives Make a Comeback in UK, electing first Conservative London Mayor as Europe Makes Turn to the Right

After 18 years of Labour control, the Conservative Party routed its opposition in local elections throughout the United Kingdom last weekend as the Labour party suffered its worst defeat in more than four decades, losing 330 seats in local legislative bodies around the country and seeing its share of the national vote drop to 28 percent. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown suffers from his lowest approval rating and nationally, according to the latest polling, the Conservative party enjoys its largest lead over Labour since 1968, with 49 percent of the British electorate favoring the Conservatives compared to Labour's 34 percent. Over the weekend, the Conservatives gained control of 12 town councils while Labour lost 9, giving the Conservatives control of 65 town councils compared to Labour's 18. The Tories posted a net gain of 257 councillors to give them a total of 3,155 elected councillors while Labour lost 334 councillors giving them a total of 2,365 elected councillors. Nationally, the Tories garnered 44 percent of the vote compared to Labour's 24 percent.

Probably the biggest story of the night was the election of London's first Conservative mayor EVER! Boris Johnson, a former journalist who was born in the United States and edited the politically conservative American magazine The American Spectator, beat Ken Livingstone (whose defense of radical Islamic leaders and visits to Cuba and Venezuela where he lavished praise on those dictatorial leaders earned him the nickname of "Ken the Red"). Livingstone was a self-declared socialist who was forced out of the Labour party and only recently re-admitted. Johnson's win over Livingstone by 140,000 votes out of more than 2 million cast cannot be understated. Everyone thought he would close the gap significantly, but no media or pundits predicted that a conservative could win control of the United Kingdom's largest and most politically liberal city. Astonishingly enough, Conservatives now have a plurality of seats on London's General Assembly (the equivalent of a American city council) with 12 seats compared to Labour's 8 seats.

By 2010, it is expected that Conservatives will win a majority in parliament and elect David Cameron Prime Minister, fully returning the Conservatives to power for the first time since the days of Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

This is significant on many fronts. Last year, France elected its most conservative and pro-American president in decades, Nicholas Sarkozy, who pledged to bring free market reforms to the socialist country and implement a far-reaching tax cut.

Just a few weeks ago, Italians returned Silvio Berlusconi to power as prime minister and gave his conservative Forza Italia! party majorities in both houses. Silvio Berlusconi is unabashedly pro-American and supported the War in Iraq politically and militarily. For the first time since World War II, not one Communist or Green party member was elected to the Italian parliament.

And in 2005, anti-American liberal, Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder was thrown out of office as Germans elected right-of-center Christian Democratic Union candidate Angela Merkel as their new chancellor. Merkel, who was raised in Communist East Germany, is an avid free-market proponent and anti-Communist, having been victim to Communist oppression as a child.

In 2006, Swedish voters rejected the ruling Social Democrats and elected Fredrik Reinfeldt of the Moderate Party (a center-right party) as their prime minister, giving Swedish conservatives only their second victory in 26 years. Reinfeldt ran on a platform of tax cuts, union reforms, and privatization and is also a fervant American supporter (incidentally, he traveled to the U.S. in 2004 to work on behalf of Bush's re-election and his party is a member of the International Democratic Union (ICU), an organization of center-right parties from around the world of which the U.S. Republican Party is a member). Under Reinfeldt's leadership, Sweden supported American involvement in Iraq and is a partner in helping to rebuild the country.

So as Europe tires of decades of experimenting with anti-Americanism, big governmnent, burdensome labor laws, and lagging productivity and high unemployment, the continent is seeking to reform its socialist welfare states and is trending rightward like never before.

The question is: just as Europe begins to elect leaders with similarities to the American values of individualism, capitalism, free market innovations, and limited government, will Americans do the unthinkable and elect one of the most liberal Democrats whose agenda includes socialist elements, and in turn send a message to Europe that we are no longer committed to the ideals that we helped foster and spread to their continent?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

2nd, 3rd District Updates

2nd District Update
Lynn Jenkins opened her campaign office to much fanfare on Saturday. The office was crowded and Kansans were eager to hear the State Treasurer speak. Kansas' new national Republican Committeewoman, Helen Van Etten, was also present. Just one day before, the campaign released an internal poll that showed Jenkins beating Ryun, 48 to 41 percent. Jenkins pledged not to go negative and reiterated the three main planks of her campaign: making the Bush tax cuts permanent, cutting spending, and ending illegal immigration--all part of her theme of bringing "New Republican Leadership" to Washington. Jenkins also alleged that Ryun's negative attacks against her were a substitute for his lack of legislative accomplishments while serving in the house. Lynn said she has visited every county in the 2nd district; Jim Ryun is also working hard, visiting every county. This will be a blockbuster primary and general election race against "Bad News" Boyda.

3rd District Update
Jordan continues to work hard and has posted incredible fundraising totals. On April 14th, Jordan and his campaign staff stood outside local post offices to remind taxpayers of Dennis Moore's poor record on taxes and his failure to vote for tax relief for millions of hardworking Americans.

According to Stu Rothenberg, the 2nd District race is currently a toss-up, and the 3rd District race has been demoted from "likely Democratic" to "leans Democratic." We at the Konnection expect the 3rd District rating to change soon to "toss up" as well, now that Moore has to run against a popular state senator with a record of accomplishment--something that Moore does not have. Several years ago, jokes were made that Moore was perhaps the most unknown congressman among his colleagues--few fellow representatives could identify him. The third district, a hub for business and bio-science, should be represented by a congressman who is recognizable by all and who fights for his district by actually sponsoring bills and taking a leadership position in the house. Representation for Johnson, Wyandotte, and part of Douglas counties has been lacking for 10 years now--Kansas deserves better.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Lynn Jenkins Campaign Office Grand Opening

The Konnection has learned that the Lynn Jenkins for Congress campaign will be celebrating the grand opening of their new campaign office in Topeka this Saturday, May 3rd from 10:30 to 11:30 am at 4011 SW Gage Blvd. Supporters are invited to join the campaign for doughnuts and coffee, while learning how to get involved in one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Missouri enters debate over drinking age

Missouri voters will have the eyes of the nation on them as they vote on many ballot initiatives including a ban on affirmative action, a possible, limitations on the embryonic stem cell initiative passed in '06, and now an initiative to lower the legal drinking age to 18.

Six other states, including Vermont, South Dakota, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Wisconsin are also considering bills or referendums to lower the legal drinking age (Kentucky, South Carolina, and Wisconsin would only lower the drinking age to 18 for members of the military).

Before 1984, drinking laws were a matter of states' rights and the laws varied from state-to-state. MADD and other groups lobbied congress to pass the Uniform Drinking Age Act in 1984 which just encouraged all states to raise their drinking age to 21. Oh, and one little caveat: states who refused to change their laws would lose billions in coveted federal highway dollars. Leave it to the federal government to give the impression it is giving states a "choice" when in reality it is exerting the most effective type of coercion.

Hence, today every state uniformly upholds the drinking age of 21. Some of these states proposing a lower drinking age--by voter referendum or state legislative action--will undoubtedly risk losing 10 percent of their federal highway dollars. It's anyone's guess how Missourians will vote on this issue. Before 1984, Missouri already had a legal drinking age of 21, while Kansas allowed 18 year olds to drink (it was common practice for Kansas City area youth on the Missouri side to drive over to Wyandotte or Johnson County and drink legally). Kansas seems to be unwilling to revisit the issue: there is no action on the legislative front, and Kansas does not have the progressive and unique statutes that faciliate voter-driven initiatives and referendums, so any change in the short-term is unlikely.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2005 reported that 85 percent of 20 year old Americans had consumed alcohol and nearly 40 percent of them had binged. Government officials privately admit that alcohol use among youth has not decreased since the 1984 law was passed, but has actually increased, raising concerns about the effectiveness of the law, as underage drinking is driven underground, away from the watchful eyes of other adults in public places such as bars and restaurants. The troubling increase in binge drinking corresponds with this, as all the available data shows that European nations with legal drinking ages of 21 have much lower rates of binge drinking, while the U.S. and UK experience the highest rate of binge drinking.

Underage drinking is seen as a form of rebellion and teenagers revel in the ability to engage in an illegal activity, often consuming alchol to excess. Part of the problem is our nation's tendency to focus police resources on combatting underage drinking while taking a light and and less harsh attitude towards the real culprit--drunk driving. Norway allows its citizens to drink at 18 but it also has some of the harshest laws for drunk driving--a mandatory 10 year sentence on the first offense, which ensures a low rate of drunk driving in the country. The United States, however, has no uniform laws and often repeat offenders have to be caught 2, 3, or 4 times before they face ANY prison time at all. It's abominable, but our culture looks at drunk driving much more lightly, as a situation that many people do at some point in their lives, so it's not so bad (that's what Rosie O'Donnell said in not so many words on the View a while back).

What's the answer? I understand concerns about lowering the drinking age, but obviously what we have now doesn't work. And it's incredibly hypocritical to crackdown on underage youth who may drink a single beer and then give a pass to drunk drivers who habitually re-offend until they ultimately kill someone (which in some cases, still only involves fines of little more than $100).

What say you? Will this Missouri law pass and should it? Or should we focus on combatting binge drinking?