Friday, October 30, 2009

BREAKING: Ethics investigation, scandal involving several congressmen, including Tiahrt

The Politico and The Washington Post are breaking a major story--the Department of Justice and the house ethics committee are investigating whether a former Appropriations Committee staffer and employee of PMA (a prominent consulting/lobbying firm) used "straw man donors" to improperly funnel money to members on the house appropriations committee, including Congressman Todd Tiahrt.

More as this story develops and its ramifications for Tiahrt's campaign for the U.S. Senate here in KS...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ed Eilert to speak to JoCo Young Republicans

The Johnson County Young Republicans will be meeting this Wednesday, Oct 7th at 7 pm at Old Chicago at 119th and Metcalf. Former Overland Park Mayor and current Johnson County Commissioner Ed Eilert will be their guest speaker. Eilert is running for JoCo Commission Chairman against current incumbent Annabeth Surbaugh in what is predicted to be the most high-profile race locally in next year's general election. Eilert served as an Overland Park city councilman for four years before becoming the city's major for 28 years during its rise as Kansas City's leading suburb in population growth, business relocation, and economic development. Eilert was elected to the Johnson County Commission in 2006 and continues to serve on the boards and committees of many local civic and community organizations.

This race for the county's top post pits two well-known JoCo establishment politicians against each other. Surbaugh, a longtime commissioner prior to being elected commission chair, has always maintained a cadre of endorsements from Johnson County's movers and shakers and retains savvy political skills--she cannot be underestimated. However, Surbaugh has faced increasing criticism in the past four years for county budgetary woes, decisions to participate in cross-state tax initiatives such as bi-state, and the county's relationship with the cities and municipalities. Conservative activist and reformer Charlotte O'Hara came within a single percentage point of knocking off the well-funded, well-known Surbaugh in 2006.

Eilert brings star power and his longtime record and tenure as Overland Park mayor, fueling the growth and development of Kansas City's largest suburb in the '70s, 80s, and '90s. Eilert is running on a fiscally conservative platform and can match Surbaugh in fundraising abilities, name recognition, and crucial endorsements. Surbaugh's supporters would argue that she maintained stability and steered the county through some of its greatest economic challenges and a debilitating recession, while Eilert's supporters would argue that with her somewhat brash management style and her focus on bi-state initiatives, she has alienated municipal leaders and neglected the needs of the county, while refusing to take the difficult but necessary steps to reign in spending. Surbaugh's supporters charge that running a city, however large, does not compare to running a county and that Eilert is a novice compared to Surbaugh.

I would rate this race as favoring Eilert, but it would be a mistake to ever count Surbaugh out. However, Surbaugh is in the race of her life and this unusual matching is giving many of Johnson County's civic and municipal leaders headaches as they attempt to choose between two leaders they like fairly well.

What do you think?