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 They delivered a new school finance formula modeled on the one Brownback’s allies repealed and while that formula is still considered somewhat inadequate in funding, it has been found to be structurally constitutional.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

Sep 4, 2018 by

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Laura Kelly has landed a big name endorsement today with a video release from former Republican Governor Bill Graves.

Graves, who served two terms as Kansas Secretary of State followed by two terms as Governor, becomes the latest in a growing line of Republican leaders who are publicly supporting Kelly over Republican Kris Kobach. In his endorsement message, Graves lauds Kelly as a leader that brings people together – across the aisle – to solve problems. “Laura has integrity, and I know she will bring Kansans together regardless of party to solve problems,” Graves said.

Other prominent Republicans who have endorsed Kelly are former Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, State Senator Barbara Bollier, State Representative Joy Koesten, and former President of the Kansas Senate Dick Bond.

Bollier has been criticized and punished by Senate President Susan Wagle for daring to put a candidate over party. Bollier was stripped of her position on the Senate Health Committee. Bollier, as a physician, is a natural for that committee. House Republicans were warned to keep their endorsements to themselves if they can’t endorse Kobach. Rep. Koesten was defeated in her primary campaign by a conservative Republican.

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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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New Poll Shows “Dead Heat” in Race for Kansas Governor

Aug 30, 2018 by

Topeka – As we move into the final two months of campaigning ahead of the November general election, new polling indicates Senator Laura Kelly and Secretary of State Kris Kobach are in a “dead heat.” Senator Kelly was recently announced as the recommended candidate for governor by the Kansas NEA PAC which commissioned the poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.  

The candidates for governor were tested twice in the poll, once where all candidates were only identified by name and party affiliations and again where respondents were read a positive platform message about Kelly, Kobach and Orman individually. The results of these two samples are indicated as follows:

 

         

“Two things should jump out at voters from this poll,” KNEA President Mark Farr said. “First, Greg Orman’s role in this election is that of a distant spoiler. Second, voter turnout by those who really care about public education in Kansas will determine who our next Governor is. In my mind, a vote for Greg Orman is a vote for Kris Kobach. If we take Kobach at his word, public schools will be starved of resources, the courts and constitution will be ignored and when public schools are shut down, our tax dollars will be gifted to private, for-profit schools.”

The poll also indicated while Kobach’s propensity to seek the media spotlight has earned him more recognition statewide than Kelly (87% to 60% respectively), a full 11% more voters who know Kobach view him unfavorably than favorably.  Thirteen-percent (13%) more voters who know Orman view him unfavorably than favorably. By contrast, Laura Kelly enjoys a positive favorability rating. Of voters who know her, 14% more view her favorably than unfavorably.

“Laura Kelly and her running mate Lynn Rogers have proven themselves as advocates for students and for strong public schools time and again,” Farr said. “They have promised to work to restore respect for the educators who dedicate themselves to protect and to teach our students. When the election is over, we will either collapse backwards into a doubling-down on the policies Sam Brownback wrought on this state or we will continue to move forward with a champion of public education in Laura Kelly. This poll is a really a call to stand up, support our kids and our public schools and above all else, to vote.”    

Public Policy Polling conducted this poll with results based upon responses from 877 likely Kansas general election voters. The telephone survey was completed between Friday, Aug. 24 and Sunday, Aug. 26.

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Contact: Marcus Baltzell, KNEA Director of Communications

marcus.baltzell@knea.org 785.232.8271

CLICK HERE for poll results.

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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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