Lesson from Alaska…Are you listening, Greg?

Oct 30, 2018 by

Kansas is not the only state to face a three-way governor’s race this year.

There are three names on the Alaska ballot as well. One is incumbent Alaska governor and Independent candidate Bill Walker who finds himself challenged by Democrat Mark Begich and Republican Mike Dunleavy.

But what makes the Alaska race different from the Kansas race is the fact that the independent candidate in Alaska announced he was dropping out of the race and endorsing the Democrat.

Walker came to the conclusion that he would simply be a spoiler in a three-way race and that, in his words, “Alaskans deserve a competitive race.” Walker knows that his positions are more in line with Democrat Mark Begich than with Republican Mike Dunleavy. He realized that Begich had a better chance of winning than he did and that he and Begich would simply split the moderate vote, handing the election to conservative Dunleavy.

Following Walker’s decision, there were tweets aplenty here in Kansas urging independent Greg Orman to do the same. Orman, who has not gone beyond 10% of voters in multiple polls, is likely to play the role of spoiler and hand the Kansas governor’s race to Kris Kobach.

And in big news today, Orman’s treasurer resigns, endorses Laura Kelly!

The Wichita Eagle reports that Greg Orman’s campaign treasurer, former state Senator Tim Owens, has resigned from the Orman campaign and endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly. In a press release from the Kelly campaign, Owens said, “This is a critical election for Kansas. We cannot risk the future of our state.” Click here to read the Eagle story.

All of this leads us to remind ourselves that a lot is at stake in this election. To that end, we’d like to share an article we published in our last print edition of EDTALK, “Orman? Kobach? What about Orbach?”

 

read more

Nothing Good is Ever Said in These Last Three Weeks

Oct 18, 2018 by

We have entered the worst period of every election cycle – the last three weeks before election day. This is the time that is designed for creating doubts, generating confusion, and taking the voter’s mind off what is really at stake.

For us, in Kansas, there is much at stake in this election. Fundamentally, this is about whether we continue to make progress on restoring the state budget and funding our schools or we turn back and embrace the failed economic policies of Sam Brownback once again.

You might think we are talking about the race for Governor – and we are – but it is so much more. In 2016 voters sent a wave of new Democratic and Moderate Republican legislators to the House and, working together, that coalition did marvelous work. They reversed the failed Brownback tax plan even delivering enough votes to override his veto. They voted to expand Medicaid and again the House delivered enough votes to override Brownback’s veto (sadly the Senate fell short). They delivered a new school finance formula modeled on the one Brownback’s allies repealed and while that formula is still considered somewhat inadequate in funding, it has been found to be structurally constitutional. And the House twice voted to restore due process protections for teachers that Brownback’s allies had stripped in 2014.

All of these important votes were accomplished not by the Democrats or the Moderate Republicans but by the Democrats and Moderate Republicans working as a coalition – as a team – to deliver results for the people of Kansas.

The political goal of KNEA and our Political Action Committee (KPAC) has been to preserve and increase the membership of that coalition. To that end, we promised legislators of both parties that if they stood strong for the issues we believe in, we would stand strong with them at election time.

Unfortunately, a number of our Moderate Republican friends lost their bid for re-election, falling in the primary to a conservative candidate allied with Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, and the remnants of the Brownback majority. This makes it critical now that we support and re-elect every member of the House Democratic Caucus and every remaining member of the Moderate Republican Caucus. And at the same time, we must help Democrats defeat some of the conservatives in those races where a moderate Republican does not exist. 

Simply put, we need more coalition seats. Trading coalition seats does not build our capacity to pass good legislation and defeat bad legislation. Trading seats is a zero-sum game.

We acknowledge that a Democrat who defeats a Moderate Republican is very likely to be a solid vote for good policy and school funding. But it does not strengthen the coalition’s ability to hold off the conservative agenda. The only way we build legislative strength is to defeat more Brownback/Kobach ideologues.

We also acknowledge that there is another alternative – electing a Democratic House majority; electing 63 Democrats. That would mean holding the 40 Democratic seats they now have and defeating another 23 Republicans. We have yet to meet anyone who believes that is possible in one election cycle.

So when KPAC considers recommending candidates, we do it with one thing in mind – how can we elect a pro-public education majority in the legislature. Not “how can we elect a Democratic majority.” Not “how can we elect a Moderate Republican majority.”How can we elect a pro-public education majority of legislators regardless of party? 

So in these last three weeks, voters are being bombarded by mail that has little to do with policy and everything to do with sowing doubt and confusion. It is mail filled with references to obscure votes alleged to prove a candidate is evil. It is mail about their personal lives or something once “liked” on Facebook. It is mail with a photo of the time they were in the same room as Nancy Pelosi or Kevin Yoder.

Here is what we suggest. Don’t read the mail. Throw it in the recycle bin, shred it, line your birdcage with it. Just don’t read it. Instead turn to organizations you trust. We hope that includes KNEA. But maybe it’s the Mainstream Coalition or Moms Demand Action. Maybe it’s the Fraternal Order of Police or the Kansas Organization of State Employees. But go to them and look at their candidate recommendations/endorsements. And then cast your vote for those candidates. You’ll be doing the right thing.

read more

Steven Becker, HD 104, is a Write-in Candidate!

Oct 15, 2018 by

Reno County, You Have a Choice!

If you live in Reno County and specifically in House District 104, you may have thought that you had no choice about who your Representative would be in the 2019 legislative session. 

Well, now that’s not true!

Incumbent Representative Steven Becker lost his bid to once again be the Republican nominee in the August Republican primary by nine votes and since no Democrat has filed for the seat Becker’s loss meant that, without some miracle, voters would have no choice in the general election this November. By nine votes in a partisan election, the rest of the voters would have been denied any voice in their representation at all.

But sometimes miracles do happen. 

After much soul-searching and with lots of pleas from his friends, Representative Steven Becker has announced he will seek re-election via a write-in campaign.

Those who care about public education could not be happier. Becker was defeated by an extreme conservative challenger whose only campaign strategy was to accuse Becker of being an independent thinker – more specifically, Becker served as a Republican elected official who would not promise to march lockstep with the failed Brownback agenda. 

For two terms Becker distinguished himself as one of the most thoughtful, independent voices in the Kansas House. Becker voted for what was good for his district and the state of Kansas and not what was demanded of him by  Sam Brownback or the anti-education, anti-government crowd supported by Americans for Prosperity and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. 

Becker supported public education; he supported public school educators; and he supported sound economic and tax policies that are fair to all Kansans and allow the state to provide for good schools, safe roads, and quality care for seniors and those who need a helping hand. 

That’s why Steven Becker was deemed a friendly incumbent legislator by the Kansas NEA Political Action Committee. And that’s a designation that continues into his write-in campaign. 

This November, all residents of Kansas House District 104 will have a choice – a choice to continue moving Kansas forward with a good school finance plan and sound tax policy or to return to the failed and reckless policies of Sam Brownback. 

The Kansas NEA Political Action Committee supports the re-election of Steven Becker to the Kansas House of Representatives and urges all friends of public education to write-in the name of STEVEN BECKER for House District 104 on their ballot in this election. 

read more

Cast your vote like it is the most important one. Because it just might be.

Oct 5, 2018 by

The race for Kansas Governor to determine if we free-fall back into the Brownback policies that brought ruin upon our schools and our state (and made him the least popular Governor in America) OR if we move forward with common sense policies that support our constitution, our schools, and our students- has been and continues to be a dead heat.  This week, the Kobach campaign is pulling out all the stops to energize their extreme-right base to vote as President Donald Trump will be taking time away from federal investigators to host a campaign rally in Topeka.

Speaking of the Trump / MAGA / Kobach rally, we’ve been asked what’s the best way to counter the anti-public education, anti-worker, anti-civility message President Trump will likely bring with him on Saturday.  The answer is astonishingly simple.  Vote.

The purpose of a rally like the one we’ll be hearing about on Saturday is three-fold.

First, it is an effort to energize the conservative base of voters to get out and vote for two highly toxic candidates.  Kobach’s polling has consistently shown that his overall UNFAVORABILITY is higher than his favorability.  Not surprising given that he’s promised to double-down on Brownback’s ruinous policies.  On the federal ticket, President Trump is also expected to endorse Watkins over Paul Davis as a last-ditch effort to convince voters that Watkins didn’t deserve the attacks leaders in his own party levied against him during the primary season- calling him a charlatan and a phony.  The problem is, it turns out he is exactly what they claimed, a phony.  Instead of the “high-adventure hero” he has claimed to be, Watkins’ highest adventure might be leaving one of his residences in Alaska to take a trip to Kansas- you know the state he wants to represent but allegedly doesn’t reside in.

Second, Trump’s rally is an effort to dominate the media cycle for his endorsed candidates.  He wants to draw attention away from the real issues and real solutions the opponents of Kobach and Watkins are addressing with potential voters.  The simple fact is, this event will dominate the media cycle.  Efforts to piggy-back that cycle with counter-activities would come at a great expense while pulling focus towards the circus rather than the real issues at stake during this election season.  CLICK HERE to view alternatives to the Trump rally.

Third, speaking of pulling focus, the energy spent on counter-activities might energize some voters who may have been waiting for a reason to get involved.  While that’s certainly not a bad thing, spending time, energy and money trying to out-shout Trump zealots, is probably futile.  Take a look at the most recent polling data in the image above. The most important data in the poll is that 15% of likely Kansas voters are undecided.  Instead of spending time trying to convince those Trump zealots that they’re wrong, we encourage you to work Saturday (and every day until election day), to convince those undecided voters that there is only one candidate for Governor who supports public education, ALL students, and our constitution.  That candidate is Laura Kelly.

One final thought.  We’re hearing from members and non-members that they’re worried about voter-turnout during the mid-terms because they know that candidates like Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach get elected in Kansas when voter turnout is low.  Their worry is justifiable, and that’s why Kris Kobach has worked so hard to disenfranchise voters and to make registering to vote and the act of voting difficult and frightening for people of color and people whose priorities are living day to day.  But, it doesn’t have to be.  You can register to vote right now.  You can apply for an advance ballot to vote by mail from home right now.  You can encourage and assist 5, 10, or 50 others to vote right now.  The only real question and the only real reason for worry is, will you?

KPAC Withdraws Recommendation in HD 15

There has been wide reporting in the news media that Chris Haulmark, a candidate for Kansas House of Representatives District 15, has been accused of abusive relationships with women over a number of years and as late as 2017.

Haulmark has denied many of the specific allegations but admits that he has had a history of troubled relationships with women exacerbated by anger issues. Haulmark has sought intensive therapy in dealing with these issues.

KNEA leaders and members of the Kansas NEA PAC have determined that there is doubt as to whether or not Mr. Haulmark has the temperament to serve in such an important position. To that end, the Kansas NEA PAC has decided to withdraw its recommendation of Mr. Haulmark for election to the Kansas House.

We sincerely hope that Mr. Haulmark continues to seek help with these issues and can build healthy and respectful relationships in the future. Additionally, we hope that the victims of abuse receive support services to assist them in dealing with the trauma of abuse.

To read more about this issue and the allegations, we would refer you to this report in the Kansas City Star.

read more

MAGA Rally Saturday. What to do?

Oct 3, 2018 by

President Trump is coming to Topeka to hold one of his MAGA rallies in support of Kris Kobach for Governor and Steve Watkins for Congress in CD 2. We all know that Trump and Kobach have a unique friendship and Trump needs Watkins – an Alaskan renting a house a Kansas while his wife lives in their house in Massachusetts – to help keep the Congress in his hands. Polling shows both races to be very tight and Trump hopes to boost Kobach and Watkins over Laura Kelly and Paul Davis.

With Trump in Topeka and protests at his rallies becoming very popular, it might seem like a good idea to make a sign and show up in Topeka. But frankly, we don’t think it’s such a great idea. If you want to impact the political landscape in Kansas and in DC, you can show up to protest or you can take concrete action to see to it that Kobach does not become governor or that Watkins does not get sent to Washington. Or for that matter, just take direct action to keep the Kansas legislature moderate.  To help you with that effort, our KPAC (a group of educators who recommend candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to supporting public education and students) has published its recommendations and you can view them by clicking here.  Better yet, share the recommendations with friends, family, and neighbors as you encourage them to vote.

And so we offer you some alternative activities.

Educators for Laura Kelly

First, if you are in Wichita or Sedgwick County, you can join an “Educators for Laura Kelly” event. This event will be held on Saturday, October 6, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm at the United Teachers of Wichita office, 150 S. Ida Street in Wichita. Come to show Laura the love and find out more about how you can help her win. Click here for a link to their Facebook event. 

KDP Day of Action

Of course, we all can’t go to Wichita (or to Topeka for the circus). That’s why the Kansas Democratic Party is making Saturday, October 6, a Day of Action across the state. Already there are events in Garden City, Lawrence, Overland Park, Wichita, Pittsburg, Leavenworth, Topeka, Winfield, and Kansas City. These events are all opportunities to spend some time volunteering for Democratic candidates across the state. We expect more events and locations to be added. To find out information about a Day of Action event in your area, click here.

Contact your favorite candidate

Finally, your counter protest can be a call or email to your favorite candidate – Republican or Democrat – and ask what you can do to move that candidate to the win column. Candidates need phone bankers, door-to-door canvassers, parade walkers, and all kinds of other volunteers. Take the hours you planned to give to protesting a MAGA rally and donate those hours to your favorite candidate.

So to answer the initial question in this post, no, KNEA is not participating in any protests of the Trump MAGA rally for Kobach and Watkins. Instead, we plan to take actions to see to it that everyone on this list of KNEA/KPAC recommended candidates win in November.

 

Don’t forget, you can check your voter registration, register and apply for an early voting ballot at www.ksvotes.org.

KSVotes.org

KSVotes.org is the fastest, simplest way to register to vote in Kansas using just your touchscreen device.

 

 

read more