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 They delivered a new school finance formula modeled on the one Brownback’s allies repealed and while that formula is still considered somewhat inadequate in funding, it has been found to be structurally constitutional.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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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25% of Kansas Voters Set to Determine Your Future!

Oct 1, 2018 by

Cartoonist, Nick Anderson, 2014

Voting is the cornerstone of democracy. That’s why it always amazes and frustrates us that so few people eligible to vote actually cast a ballot. In 2014, the last time Kansas was electing a Governor, only 50.8% of registered voters bothered to vote. Think about that! For every two Kansans, one did not vote! Just 25% of voters (half of those that bother to vote) could decide your future.

Are you satisfied to let half of all Kansans registered to vote to decide what that future will be? Every election is important, but this year’s race for Governor offers us a particularly sharp contrast. Will the next Governor return to the Brownback tax policy or continue to move forward? Will the next Governor honor the school finance plan passed by the legislature or repeal it? Will the next Governor fund highway maintenance or steal for KDOT?

The decision is up to us. And it should be up to ALL OF US!

No matter where you sit on the broad political spectrum, please vote. Let’s find out once and for all what the MAJORITY of Kansans want, not just the half that shows up.

You can vote early by mail. You can vote early in person. You can walk into your polling place on November 6. But however you do it, please support our democracy. Please vote.

Your Source for Voting

https://www.ksvotes.org is your one-stop-shop for voting. Go there to check your registration – make sure you haven’t been purged from the voter files. Go there to register to vote if you aren’t now registered. Go there to request an advance voting ballot if you’d like to vote from home. In your pajamas.

There’s a bonus for early voting!

Campaigns run on money. And no campaign treasurer wants to spend money they don’t have to spend. That’s why, once advance voting starts, a good campaign treasurer will check the voting rolls daily to see who in that district has already voted. If your name comes up as having cast a ballot early, they take you off the mail list to save money. So you see, if you vote early, you can stop most, if not all, of the nasty campaign mail from filling your mailbox! Now that’s a deal worth voting early for!

I Vote for Public Education!

Some candidates will say they support education, and they’ll do just about anything to fool the public into thinking they mean it.  Often they’ll trot out a teacher who will say great things in support of the candidate, hoping that you and I don’t look at their record.  Take the race between Sharice Davids and Kevin Yoder for Congressional District 3 as an example.  While Yoder has found a retired teacher to appear in a commercial, Davids has the backing of educators throughout her district.  And as a KNEA/KPAC recommended candidate, Davids has been through a rigorous interview process conducted by currently licensed classroom teachers who determined that hers is a candidacy that truly represents support for public education.

Or look to the Governor’s race for another example.  Secretary of State Kobach makes splashy headlines for what sounds like a pro-education policy, but when you investigate his rhetoric you discover that his promises- like his funding to the classroom slogan- actually will result in cuts.  Why?  Because he’s not telling you that he believes that only certain very specific things qualify as necessary for “classroom instruction.”  Everything else like support services, technology, and specialists would only be funded at the local level- meaning that a child’s opportunity would depend a whole lot on their zip code.

If you would love to vote but just aren’t sure who the pro-public education candidates are, we’ve got just the thing for you!

The KNEA Political Action Committee (KPAC), made up of KNEA members from across the state, have done the hard work of interviewing and analyzing the candidates for public office. They have identified which candidates are the best on issues related to our public schools, our school employees, and our public school students.

Click here to see the list of all KNEA/KPAC recommended candidates.

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Dirty Tricks, Scandal, & Arizona Court Tosses Funding Initiative

Aug 31, 2018 by

Big Day in the Political World!

Orman accuses KNEA of “dirty tricks”

Yesterday we reported to you the results of polling conducted for KNEA by Public Polling that showed the Governor’s race in Kansas to be a dead heat between Democrat Laura Kelly and Republican Kris Kobach with independent candidate Greg Orman polling just enough to make his candidacy a spoiler candidacy.

The Orman campaign has gone on the attack against KNEA calling the report “dirty tricks.” Really? A reputable national polling firm conducts a poll and because you don’t like what it says, it’s “dirty tricks?” No, Mr. Orman, not dirty tricks. Just reporting what the public is saying. 

Orman polls, by the way, are always conducted as “head to head match-ups.” He announced a poll earlier that showed him defeating Kobach in a head to head match. Unfortunately, the race is not a head to head between Orman and Kobach. It’s a five-candidate race. The KNEA poll measured support for all five candidates. So no “dirty tricks.” Just a dose of reality.

Newest Republican Legislator Asked to Resign, Suspend Campaign…by Republicans

Republican Michael Capps was appointed just a few weeks ago to the seat in the Kansas House formerly held by Chuck Weber who resigned to take a job as a lobbyist for the Kansas Catholic Conference. Capps had already filed as a candidate for the seat and local Republicans quickly appointed him to the vacancy (the power of the incumbency?). 

But it seems that Capps- when serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate- was investigated by the Department of Children and Families for child abuse. According to the Hawver Capital Report, “The Department of Children and Families found that Capps had abused the children, but technical filing problems led to a reversal of the finding.”

House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, called on Capps to resign saying, “Holding public office requires public trust. The allegations in this matter are serious ones. I pray for everyone involved and hope this situation is resolved swiftly. In the meantime, for Mr. Capps to serve in the Kansas House would be entirely inappropriate. Public trust matters far more than political gain.”

Republican Party Chair Kelly Arnold also announced that the Party would not support Capps’ campaign and was suspending such efforts immediately.

So far Capps has refused to step down, arguing that he fought the charges and won. 

Earlier in the election, Capps’ candidacy was challenged based on his residence. The house he was claiming as his residence in the district appeared to be deserted and had been foreclosed upon. Such challenges are heard by a panel made up of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, and Lt. Governor Tracey Mann, all Republican partisans. They ruled in favor of Capps.

Capps is being challenged in the election by Democrat Monica Marks who, as we reported in an earlier post, is a KNEA PAC recommended candidate. 

Click here to read the Wichita Eagle story.

Arizona Court Tosses Ballot Measure to Help Schools

Click for National #RedForEd Day Facebook Page

Arizona Education Association Members Ask that All Educators Stand With Them

The Arizona State Supreme Court has taken the unprecedented step of removing the Invest In ED ballot measure from the November ballot.  Invest In ED would have provided millions of Arizona students with a sustainable revenue source that would provide resources students need to learn.  This measure would have provided crucial education funding that everyone in Arizona agrees is needed.

In order to qualify for the ballot, thousands of educators across the state worked tirelessly all summer to collect 270,000 signatures to qualify the Invest In ED act to be on the ballot. In a purely political move, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned the lower court decision. The Arizona Supreme Court is stacked with anti-public education justice appointees doing the bidding of Governor Doug Ducey who has failed to take action to increase needed education funding in Arizona for years.

In solidarity, AEA is requesting state affiliates and other national labor allies that Tuesday, September 4th be observed as a national #RedForEd day. This day of solidarity is in reaction to the unprecedented decision by the Arizona supreme court robbing Arizonans of the opportunity to vote for critical funding for our classrooms and investing in our educators. NEA and AEA are asking everyone to wear red and post pictures to social media with a simple “We stand in solidarity with Arizona educators” and #RedForEd and #InvestInEd hashtags.

KNEA urges all supporters of public education to stand in solidarity with educators in Arizona because our students and educators deserve better. 

WEAR RED FOR ED on Tuesday, September 4. Show the teachers of Arizona that Kansans stand with them!

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