Monday, June 28, 2010

Political Shocker: Yoder wins Olathe Straw Poll

Calling it a political upset would be an understatement. A political earthquake or watershed moment in the Kansas 3rd District congressional race is a more accurate description of what unfolded this past Saturday.

The annual straw poll, conducted during the last weekend of June at the Olathe Republican picnic, doesn't tend to be a very accurate barometer of campaign strength or electoral outcomes, only because it skews heavily conservative. In fact, the event is usually only attended by a handful of political insiders and candidates.

The Yoder campaign knew they had an uphill battle and privately conceded that the best outcome would be a very narrow margin between Kevin Yoder and Patricia Lightner in the results. Yet the eventual outcome, a 39 vote margin (156 votes to 117 for Lightner) is a testament to the strength and energy behind the Yoder campaign and their grassroots strategy. For the last week prior to the picnic, Yoder staffers canvassed neighborhoods in Olathe, notifying supporters of the straw poll and giving them coupons allowing them to vote in the poll and enter the picnic free of charge courtesy of the campaign. Yoder staffers also peppered the entrance to the picnic and the surrounding area with yard signs and Kevin Yoder himself greeted attendees as they entered the event, providing them with information and that personal connection that voters--especially undecided voters--crave.

This aggressive and intense strategy netted the campaign a plurality of votes in the poll and a win no one saw coming. And the message is that if Kevin can win an extremely conservative straw poll in the heart of Johnson County's bastion of conservatism, Olathe, then Yoder's campaign is in position for a resounding victory at the polls on August 3rd.

Some opponents have already countered with accusations of vote-buying and the lack of representation of the poll results due to the tactics used. Apparently, they have been MIA the last several years, as buying supporters' way into the picnic and steering them to the poll is a longstanding practice that has been done by many campaigns--maybe not as overtly as Yoder's campaign and others did this year, but nonetheless, it's common practice and no one has ever claimed that this straw poll is representative. On the contrary, past election results indicate that the poll is nothing more than a barometer of which campaign has grassroots support and a good organization in place to round up supporters for the vote. Tiahrt's campaign bused in supporters from Wichita, just as they did last year, so whether a campaign buys tickets for their supporters to vote in the poll or pays for supporters from out of town to vote in a poll that is supposed to be test of local support, it is to be expected and is par for the course when it comes to straw polls. Yet I don't hear these same opponents complaining that Tiahrt's people circumvented the process by buying votes.

At any rate, this poll does indicate momentum, the intensity of Yoder's support, and the efficacy of the Yoder campaign's grassroots mobilization--all necessary components to ensure a victory on August 3rd and ultimate victory on November 2nd.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

There's Something Rotten in Johnson County...

Johnson County Community College rightfully boasts of its well-deserved reputation as one of the nation's leading community colleges and most affordable choice for students seeking a variety of career and degree-focused programs, but a recent controversy over free speech threatens to tarnish that legacy.

Kathy Brown, a professional attorney, nurse, and student at JCCC in early 2009 alleges that the college violated her First Amendment rights and has stonewalled an internal investigation into the matter.

Brown says she was told by one professor she could not criticize Islam, and she was reprimanded by another professor for arguing her opposition to gay marriage in a private conversation with another student.

The response from college administration officials? The "Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion" (which aptly reeks of political correctness run amok) informed Brown of the unwritten and informal (but apparently, enforced) "Discomfort Policy" at JCCC, which bars any speech that could be construed as offensive or cause someone to feel uncomfortable.

After met with such ridiculous free speech restrictions and justification, Brown took her case to the JCCC Board of Trustees, but in the 15 months since she launched her complaint, but strangely, the Board has offered no details for the delay and stonewalling, and no hints that a resolution is even near.

Brown gave a detailed and impassioned account of her story and determination to achieve a just resolution and acknowledgment of wrongdoing at last month's Board of Trustees meeting, but the Board was strangely tight-lipped on the matter.

It's difficult to prove discrimination, bias, and violation of one's rights if you are not of a protected or favored class in today's society, and that challenge is compounded by
a policy that is unwritten but very much enforced.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. I have information from a current student who was belittled and asked by JCCC officials to change her shirt on two different occasions: once, when she was wearing a College Republicans shirt and on another occasion where she wore a shirt commemorating our troops' sacrifice in Iraq.

Kansas Watchdog, Kansas Reform, and Ben Hodge have reported on this local controversy. Now we at the Kenig Konnection call on JCCC and the Board of Trustees to respond to Brown's complaints, provide a resolution, hold the offending parties responsible, and end this "Discomfort Policy" once and for all.

Video courtesty of

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

2nd District: Sen. Pyle faces state investigation over improper use of campaign funds

Dennis Pyle has some explaining to do. Pyle, the Hiawatha state senator mounting a challenge against incumbent Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (the only house incumbent in KS facing a primary challenge--an unusual move) is being investigated by the state Ethics Commission for allegedly using funds from his state senate campaign to finance a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with campaign consultants for his congressional bid. Using funds raised for a state race for federal campaign activities is a violation of campaign finance law and could carry a heavy fine, and possibly cripple Pyle's campaign before it has the chance to gain any traction.

Pyle's response? According to KC PrimeBuzz:

“I expect the left to resort to these tactics,” Pyle said. “The people of
the 2nd District deserve a true conservative.”

News to Sen. Pyle: if you made a mistake, man up to it. This has nothing to do with being a conservative and your "conservatism" should not provide cover for breaking the law. A lapse in judgment or oversight can happen without any malicious intent--especially with the myriad of rules and regulations in Kansas campaign finance law. However, it is better to admit the mistake and move on then to feign innocence and presume that your ideology trumps violating the law.