Kansas Voters Ready Guillotine For Kansas Republicans
We are running out of adjectives to describe this year's midterm election in Kansas. Shocking and crazy have been maxed out and fail to capture the shocking craziness that a state Mittens Romnington won by more than 20 points in 2012 could be about to throw three of its biggest-deal conservatives out of office. These visionaries, through sheer laziness, incompetence, and partisan zeal, might be on the verge of achieving the impossible: sucking enough to lose in Kansas as a Republican.
Gov. Sam Brownback, having been tagged not so long ago as a possible presidential contender for 2016, faces an unexpectedly steep climb toward re-election after drifting too far to the right. For Kansas. Brownback pushed through sweeping income tax reductions for the state's wealthiest and boosted primary challengers for any moderate Republican legislators who objected, then was shocked when all that lost tax revenue left a flaming budget chasm that Kansas had to jump on its fiscal dirtbike. It'll be okay, though! Sam figured out that the state's poor people and schoolchildren (and especially the poor schoolchildren) had some extra money they didn't need for food or teachers.
Brownback's late realization that his "experiment" with starving social services and schools to keep one-percenters' yachts staffed might not be cool with some people led to this recent exchange with Jeff Greenfield from PBS, via Rachel Maddow. Here, a flustered-looking governor explains that his radical rollback of taxes on the rich, this new thing that Kansas is trying, is not anything new. What's so different about this crazy plan that's never been tried before?
As much as Brownback has distinguished himself, this season's standout performance in political failure by a Kansas Republican has been flawlessly delivered by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-some guy's living room). Despite abysmal approval ratings and an embarrassingly credible primary challenge by Obama cousin and evil doctor Milton Wolf, Roberts was counting on a Democrat and an independent splitting the opposition in the general and did not seem at all worried that his third of the vote would not be enough. His campaign clubhouse did not even have internet service until the top fixers from Washington flew in a few weeks ago -- why go to the expense of getting utilities hooked up when the candidate himself doesn't rent more than a La-Z-Boy for dozing when he's forced to leave "home" in the suburbs of DC to come back and remind people to vote for him again?
In addition to Pat's lackadaisical approach to campaigning, a large number of Kansans, including former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, are apparently still mad at him for siding with Rick Santorum over state treasure Bob Dole in 2012, when Roberts rebuffed Dole's pleas from his wheelchair on the Senate floor and voted against the United Nations treaty on the rights of persons with disabilities. And in an unthinkable violation of campaign protocol, Roberts has neglected to distribute lawn signs to supporters. It does not matter if signs fail to influence the outcome of elections. They are a vital tool in helping members of the electorate make important choices about which of their neighbors to hate.
Roberts's dwindling chances for re-election were squashed even flatter this week by the failure of last-ditch efforts by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (pictured above, thinking real hard) to force Democrats to run a candidate rather than allow independent Greg Orman to consolidate the anti-Roberts vote. Kobach, facing a serious challenge in November from a Democrat who used to be a Republican until Brownback helped push her out in the primary, has been fighting bravely for nearly a month to get those lazy Kansas Dems to run somebody -- anybody -- against Pat Roberts after their candidate Chad Taylor took one for Team America and stepped aside. When the Kansas Supreme Court told Kobach to just leave Chad Taylor alone already, Kobach tried to hitch the state to a lawsuit to force the issue, filed by an ordinary Democrat with a son working for the Republican governor's re-election campaign. At a hearing this week where the totally legitimate plaintiff did not bother to show up, a three-judge panel officially told Kobach to just print the damn ballots.
Kris Kobach is not one to admit defeat. In an order sent to county election boards after the court heartlessly crushed Pat Roberts's dreams of returning to Virginia to ignore Kansas for another six years, Kobach stressed the need to leave write-in spaces on the ballots, to be sure that anyone who might want to vote for a Democrat instead of the independent Orman could do so. Of course, as the official in charge of keeping Kansas elections clean, Kobach would never favor one candidate over another! Either way the race comes out is good with him, we're sure. Assuming he's not too busy joining lawsuits from fake Democrats to come to his Honest Elections party at the Heritage Foundation in a couple of weeks, we'll ask him about his next innovative move to preserve the neutrality of his office!
Kansas Republicans, you are a never-ending source of amusement in the middle of the ordinarily dry midterm season. You are all winners to us, in that you have won the race to the rightmost border fence of your party, from where you will be watching your election night returns in slowly emptying ballrooms of supporters. We wish you a smooth transition to your future careers.
You can follow Beth on Twitter. She'll be over here, pricing Topeka hotel rooms for November.