Close Elections Shaking Out

Nov 19, 2018 by

We had an unusually large number of Kansas House races that were remarkably close and those that are looking at absentee and provisional ballots as a result are now becoming closer to resolution.

In House District 72, on election night incumbent Democrat Tim Hodge was down by 84 votes. After the canvass, Hodge was found to have won re-election by 92 votes.

In House District 111, Democrat Eber Phelps was down by 40 votes to Republican challenger Barbara Wasinger. After the canvass, Wasinger’s lead was whittle down to 32 votes. Phelps has asked for this race to go to a hand recount.

In House District 48, Democrat David Benson was ahead on election night by 36 votes over incumbent Republican Abraham Rafie. After the Johnson County canvass was completed, Benson had won by 82 votes.

In House District 25, Democrat Rui Xu was ahead of incumbent Republican Melissa Rooker by 51 votes on election night. After the Johnson County canvass was completed, Xu had won by 121 votes.

At this point, the Democrat/Republican balance in the House would appear to be unchanged from 2017-18. Democrats lost five incumbents but elected five challengers over Republicans. The House will most likely be 40 Democrats and 85 Republicans. It is still possible that Phelps could win re-election in HD 111. If he does, the divisions would be 41 Democrats to 84 Republicans.

What Color is Kansas?

Pundits and broadcasters often refer to Kansas as a “deep red” state meaning that it is so Republican that Democrats are very unlikely to ever win. And yet when Kansans elect Governors, an interesting phenomenon occurs – one that even Kris Kobach noted in his concession speech on election night. Since 1954, no Republican governor has been succeeded by another Republican and no Democratic governor has been succeeded by another Democrat.

When you look at county by county election maps, it would appear that Kansas is deeply red. But in reality, Kansas is far more “purple” than one might think.

Kansas State Representative Adam Smith (R-Weskan) comes from one of reddest areas in our state. Smith thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at Kansas and consider things like population density and actual voting trends to make a new electoral map of Kansas and the results are fascinating.

When Smith looked at the two counties that appear the reddest (Wallace and Wichita Counties) and the two that appear the bluest (Douglas and Wyandotte Counties), he noted that those two red counties delivered a total of 1279 votes while those two blue counties delivered 81,762 votes. This explains why a state-wide Democratic candidate can win nine counties and win over a Republican taking 96 counties. The nine counties won by Democrat Kelly are, for lack of a better expression, “where the people live.”

So Smith adjusted the map in two ways. First, he made the size of counties proportional to their population. Johnson County becomes very large while Wallace County shrinks. Secondly, he put the counties on a color scale from deep red to deep blue based on the ratio of votes cast for Republican candidates to votes cast for Democratic candidates. If the ratio is 9:1 Republican, the county is deep red; if 9:1 Democratic, the county is deep blue. A 1:1 ration would be purple.

The resulting map is fascinating! Kansas would appear to be a very purple state – a centrist, moderate state. Take a look:

If you want to read Representative Smith’s full explanation, click here!

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We Had an Election!

Nov 7, 2018 by

Governor-Elect, Laura Kelly

The 2018 election is finally over and the preliminary results are in. It’s what you might call a “mixed bag.”

On the one hand, on the federal level, the Democrats have taken control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Kansas is part of that change with the defeat of Kevin Yoder and the election of Sharice Davids in CD 3 which includes Johnson and Wyandotte Counties and part of Miami County. The new House of Representatives is likely to act as a check on President Trump and especially the wishes of his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Kansas has also elected a Democratic Governor and sent Kris Kobach back to the private sector- although no one really believes he will be gone for long. The extreme conservative ideology of the Brownback administration will be replaced by an administration known for cooperation and compromise. We look forward to that!

But there are some significant changes to the Kansas House of Representatives and the possibility of big changes in our Senate as well despite the fact that only one Senate seat was on the ballot this year.

So what follows is our preliminary analysis. We should let you know that we are working off the Secretary of State’s preliminary election results and final results won’t be available for a while yet. While not likely, it is possible that some results could change.

Additionally, we warn you that when looking at new Republican legislators it is sometimes difficult to be certain whether they will fall into the Moderate or Conservative camps once they start voting. We rely on the wisdom of those who have some familiarity with them but it’s not a scientific analysis!

Here we go!

The Democrats

The House Democratic Caucus has declined by one seat, going from 40 to 39. While six incumbent Democrats lost their re-election bid (Adam Lusker HD 2, Debbie Deere HD 40, Tim Hodge HD 72, Ed Trimmer HD 79, Steve Crum HD 98, and Eber Phelps HD 111), five new Democrats were elected making it almost a wash.

The six incumbent Democrats who lost were all defeated by Conservative Republicans.

The five new Democrats are Susan Ruiz in HD 23 who defeated Moderate Republican Linda Gallagher, Rui Xu in HD 25 who defeated Moderate Republican Melissa Rooker, Brandon Woodard in HD 30 who won an open seat where incumbent Randy Powell retired, Mike Amyx in HD 45 who will replace retiring Moderate Republican Tom Sloan, and Dave Benson in HD 48 who defeated Conservative incumbent Abraham Rafie.

Three of the new Democrats are replacing Moderate Republicans while two took seats from Conservatives.

The Moderate Republicans

Moderate Republicans picked up four seats currently held by Conservatives: Mark Samsel HD 5 replaces Conservative Kevin Jones who lost his primary for Congress, J.C. Moore HD 93 who defeated Conservative John Whitmer in the primary and went on to win the general, Nick Hoheisel HD 97 who will replace retiring Conservative Les Osterman, and Bill Pannbacker HD 106 who will replace retiring Conservative Clay Aurand.

But Moderate Republicans lost three seats they currently hold to Democrats in the general (Gallagher, Rooker, and Sloan) and an additional six Moderates will be replaced by Conservatives who defeated them in the primary. Those six are HD 8 where Chris Croft defeated Patty Markley, HD 28 where Kellie Warren defeated Joy Koesten, HD 39 where Owen Donohoe will replace retiring Shelee Brim, HD 74 where Steven Kelly defeated Don Schroeder, HD 75 where Will Carpenter defeated Mary Martha Good, HD 80 where Bill Rhiley defeated Anita Judd-Jenkins, HD 87 where Renee Erickson will replace retiring Roger Elliott, and HD 104 where Paul Waggoner defeated Steven Becker.

That’s a loss of 11 Moderate Republican seats offset by three Democrats resulting in Conservatives taking eight Moderate seats.

The Coalition

So with Democrats down by one seat and Moderate Republicans down by 11, the Conservatives will have a solid block that can control leadership elections and then the appointment of committee chairs and vice chairs.

In analyzing the Democrat/Moderate coalition that managed to reverse the Brownback tax disaster and restore a sound school finance system, we must look at a couple of factors. First, Democrats usually vote as a solid block in favor of public education which means there will almost certainly be 39 votes in support of public education issues. Sadly 39 votes cannot pass good legislation or defeat bad legislation. That means the Democrats must have the support of 24 Republicans to get to the necessary 63 vote majority.

Our legislative agenda is tied to the ability of Democrats and Moderate Republicans to work together to overcome the Conservative plurality. We believe that the new House will have just enough solid Moderate Republicans to reach the 63 vote threshold with the 39 Democrats. There are also an additional eight or nine Republicans who vote sometimes with the Conservatives and sometimes with the Moderates. If we can move some of those Republicans to support the coalition, we might be okay.

That’s where the cooperation comes in. With diminished numbers of Moderate Republicans and Democrats, it will be more important than ever that these two factions work together and cooperate in developing and passing good legislation that helps our schools and keeps our state moving forward.

In the Senate

While only one seat was up in the Senate- a special election to finish the term of SD 13 currently held by Richard Hilderbrand who was appointed to the seat when former senator Jake LaTurner became State Treasurer. Hilderbrand survived a challenge from Democrat Bryan Hoffman to retain the seat so the Senate remains 30 Republicans, nine Democrats, and one Independent.

But the actual membership and make-up of the Senate will be changing.

Democratic Senators Laura Kelly and Lynn Rogers were elected as Governor and Lieutenant Governor meaning new Senators will be selected to replace them. Republican Senator Vicki Schmidt was elected as Insurance Commissioner and a new Senator will be selected to replace her. These selections are made by the precinct committee chairs in the District representing the party of the departing Senator. So Democratic precinct committee chairs in SD 18 will pick a Democratic replacement for Kelly, Democratic precinct committee chairs in SD 25 will pick a Democratic replacement for Rogers, and Republican precinct committee chairs in SD 20 will pick a Republican replacement for Schmidt.

There is no telling yet who their replacements might be. They could be chosen from out of the House meaning some new House members would then need to be selected in the same manner or they could select entirely new people. In the case of Vicki Schmidt, the selection depends on the ideology of the precinct committee chairs. If they are mostly conservatives then Moderate Republican Schmidt could be replaced by a Conservative.

There is also much speculation about two other Senators. Independent John Doll left the Republican Party to run as Greg Orman’s running mate. What will he decide to do? Will the Republicans welcome him back? Will he stay as an independent or will he become a Democrat? Will he decide to resign from the Senate? The other one is Republican Senator Barbara Bollier whose public endorsements of Democrats Laura Kelly for Governor and Sharice Davids for Congress brought the wrath of Senate Republican leadership down upon her. What will happen to her if she returns as a Republican? Will she be given the worst assignments or welcomed back? Might she become a Democrat or another Independent?

So the Senate is still up in the air as to how it will look come January.

We have a new Governor!

We are very excited that the election of Laura Kelly as Governor means the door has finally been shut on the extreme conservative administration of Sam Brownback.

Kelly and her Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers are staunch supporters of public schools and public school educators. Kelly has twice won the KNEA “Friend of Education Award” and Rogers has served as a member of the Wichita Public Schools School Board. Both are known for an ability to reach across the aisle to seek compromise for the good of the state.

We are confident that Kelly will do her utmost to include all legislative factions in the process of crafting good legislation to address the issues facing Kansans but also that she will be willing to use her veto pen should she be presented with legislation that turns back the progress made during the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions.

We look forward to working with her throughout her time as Governor.

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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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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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Senator Laura Kelly Headlines KNEA PAC’s List of Recommendations in the 2018 General Election

Aug 28, 2018 by

Senator Laura Kelly, Candidate for Governor of Kansas- Click Image to View Campaign Website

CLICK HERE for complete list of KNEA PAC recommended candidates.

Kansas Senator Laura Kelly, a two-time recipient of Kansas NEA’s “Friend of Education,” headlines the list of KNEA PAC’s recommended candidates for November’s general election, KNEA officials announced Tuesday.

“There’s a reason Senator Kelly has twice received KNEA’s highest acknowledgment of service to the mission of public education,” Mark Farr, KNEA president, said. “She and her running mate, Senator Lynn Rogers, have a legacy as advocates for Kansas students, our public schools and the dedicated professionals who ensure our kids are safe and have the opportunity to achieve their greatest potential.”

“I’m running for governor to make sure all Kansas students have the opportunity to succeed no matter where in Kansas they live,” Senator Kelly said. “In order to do that, we must work together to invest in our public schools and to restore respect and support for our teachers and staff. Kids have a natural curiosity and we need highly qualified teachers who have the time and resources needed to ensure that their curiosity is nurtured so that they can learn and achieve.”

Kansas NEA believes the Kelly/Rogers campaign represents a return to common sense Kansas values where public schools are a priority and where teachers are respected instead of marginalized. Senator Kelly values teachers and recognizes them as the strongest advocates for children outside of the home. In contrast to her opponents’ promises of returning to Brownback-style attacks on public schools, Senator Kelly’s platform includes a comprehensive vision to strengthen educational opportunities for Kansas students from pre-kindergarten through high school and beyond.

“I’m not new to the struggle educators and students have endured in recent years,” Senator Kelly continued. “I have fought against policies that put the interests of a select few ahead of the promise of opportunity for every Kansas student. Throughout my career, I have stood with our teachers and the professionals who are closest to our students in the classroom. As governor, I will make certain our schools, our teachers and our students will be a priority once again.”

Kansas NEA’s KPAC is comprised of KNEA members throughout the state who determine criteria for recommendations and interview candidates seeking KNEA’s recommendation in state races. The candidates who earn “recommended” status have demonstrated a commitment to strengthening public education in Kansas.

CLICK HERE to download today’s press release.


Full List of KNEA Recommended Candidates Available Now

KNEA has released the full list of recommended candidates ahead of the November Election.  CLICK HERE or click the image below to view and download the list.

 

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KNEA/KPAC Makes Additional Candidate Recommendations

Jul 18, 2018 by

CLICK TO VIEW & DOWNLOAD

KNEA & KPAC are continuing to interview candidates ahead of the upcoming primary elections in August.  As we have new recommendations we will continue to update our recommended candidates list and use our Under the Dome advocacy blog to distribute these updates.

There are new recommendations for House Districts 13, 27, & 107.

In House District 13, KNEA/KPAC recommends the re-election of Rep. Larry Hibbard (R).

In House District 27, KNEA/KPAC recommends the election of Karen Snyder in the Republican primary.

In House District 107, KNEA/KPAC recommends the re-election of Rep. Susan Concannon (R).

We expect to have another update after the weekend.

 

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