Primary Election Results…To be determined

Aug 8, 2018 by

Well, some things about yesterday’s Kansas primary election have been decided but others have not and likely will not be for some time yet.

What we know for certain is that Senator Laura Kelly is the Democratic candidate for Kansas Governor. Kelly secured a majority of votes (52%) in a crowded five-candidate contest. It didn’t take long last night to know that Kelly was in; Svaty and Brewer were out.

Over on the Republican side, however, things are a little different. As of noon today, Secretary of State Kris Kobach – Trump’s anointed candidate – was ahead of incumbent Governor Jeff Colyer by only 191 votes with several thousand provisional ballots still to be counted. This race will take some time to be determined as all counties finish reviewing their ballots. But Kelly will face off against either Kobach or Colyer in November.

In two other contested state-wide Republican primaries, Rep. Scott Schwab secured the nomination for Secretary of State with 38% of the vote in a five-candidate election while Sen. Vicki Schmidt managed to beat Clark Shultz in the Republican primary for Insurance Commissioner, 52% to 48%.

A couple of congressional primaries were wild. In the Democratic primary for CD 3 (currently held by Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder), Sharice Davids managed a win with 37% of the vote. She was followed by labor leader Brent Welder with 34%. Teacher Tom Niermann was a distant third with 14% of the vote. Davids will take on Yoder in the general election. While Yoder did win the Republican primary, a full 32% of Republican voters cast their votes for other candidates.

There was a crowded field in the Republican primary for CD 2 (being vacated by the retiring Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins). With seven candidates in the race, Steve Watkins eked out a win with 26% of the vote. Watkins – an unknown a few months ago – managed to top state Senators Caryn Tyson, Dennis Pyle, and Steve Fitzgerald as well as state Representative Kevin Jones and former Speaker of the House in the Kansas Legislature, Doug Mays.

Watkins has been in the news for having met with the Democratic Party to consider a run for Congress as a Democrat before settling on being a conservative Republican. He has also been criticized for being a non-voter – he maintains that as a member of the armed services he needed to stay non-partisan and that included not voting! State Senator and retired Lt. Colonel Steve Fitzgerald had harsh words for Watkins on that issue!

Watkins will face former House Minority Leader Paul Davis who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Republican Congressman Roger Marshall secured 79% of the vote in his primary election while Republican Congressman Ron Estes topped his challenger, Ron Estes, 81% to 19%. Estes will now go into a rematch with Democrat James Thompson who won his primary with 65% of the vote.

Down ballot races were disappointing for moderate Republicans who woke up to find that they had lost Mary Martha Good (El Dorado), Anita Judd-Jenkins (Arkansas City), Patty Markley (Overland Park), Joy Koesten (Leawood), Don Schroeder (Hesston), and perhaps Steven Becker (Buhler) although Becker is behind by only one vote. Some moderates with primaries did prevail, however. Among them are Susan Concannon (Concordia), Tom Cox (Shawnee), Jim Karleskint (Tonganoxie), Jim Kelly (Independence), and Larry Hibbard (Toronto). Moderates also held two other seats. Susie Swanson’s (Clay Center) seat with go to Susie Carlson who defeated conservative Kathy Martin and Stephen Alford’s (Ulysses) seat will go to Marty Long who defeated conservative Jeff Locke.

And in great moderate Republican news, outspoken conservative incumbent John Whitmer was defeated in his primary by moderate Republican J.C. Moore.

The balance of power in the House is still to be determined pending the results of the November general election, but the moderate Republican caucus did suffer some serious losses in the primaries. What remains to be seen is how well Democrats do in both defending their incumbents and picking off some of the conservatives that came out ahead against moderate Republicans.

The challenges ahead of advocates for public education from now to November are many. We call upon all Kansans who value public schools for all of our children to get involved in the general election campaigns to protect and expand the Moderate/Democrat coalition.  We’ve made many gains since 2016, but last night proved that there is a growing push to return to and even double-down on the Brownback disaster.  For the sake of Kansas kids and for the future of our state, we must not let that happen!

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Kansas and the DACA Reversal

Sep 13, 2017 by

President Donald Trump with Kansas’ Kris Kobach

First, as a refresher course, what is DACA?

DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Child Arrivals” and is intended to benefit children who came to the United States as children in the company of their parents who are undocumented immigrants. These children are usually referred to as “Dreamers” because of legislation known as “The Dream Act” that would allow them to attend colleges without fear of deportation.

Those who qualify under DACA are allowed work and/or study in the United States without fear of deportation. To be considered the applicant must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The intent is to protect children who were brought to this country illegally by their parents. For many of these children, the United States is the only country they know. DACA does not protect their parents.

With the inability of Congress to agree on the Dream Act, DACA was enacted under an executive order by President Obama.

President Trump has rescinded Obama’s executive order with a delay of six months ostensibly to give Congress time to work out a statutory solution to this issue. Should Congress fail to act, all current DACA beneficiaries would be subject to deportation – and making matters more frightening for them, the federal government holds a lot of identifying data on these young men and women due to the data collected in the application process.

Where is the Kansas Congressional Delegation on DACA?

While Governor Brownback was a supporter of the Dream Act while serving as a United States Senator, the same cannot be said of the current Kansas Congressional Delegation.

Our members of Congress can be quoted from their own press statements.

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS CD 2), who is not running for re-election, said, “In the coming weeks, I look forward to working with my colleagues to create a permanent solution through the legislative process with input from Kansans in the 2nd District.” Unfortunately, Jenkins was vague on what a solution might be.

Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS CD 3) parroted the remarks of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he said DACA “has served as a magnet, bringing tens of thousands of new immigrants, exacerbating our illegal immigration challenges, and creating a humanitarian crisis at the border.” Nothing could be further from the truth. No one enters the United States illegally because they might get their children enrolled in the DACA program.

Congressman Ron Estes (R-KS CD 4) praised Trump’s action and said “This decision gives Congress time to fix our broken immigration system. Congress can do this by securing our borders, reviewing our immigration process, and not providing amnesty to those who disregard our nation’s laws.” DACA beneficiaries, contrary to Congressman Estes’ assertion, were brought to this country by their parents and must prove in the DACA application process that they have not broken any of our nation’s laws.

Only Congressman Roger Marshall (R-KS CD 1) indicated in his press release that it was important to protect these young people. Marshall said, “Our resources, especially as they pertain to deportation, must remain focused on getting rid of bad people who present a danger to the American citizen – not a young person who is here simply due to circumstance. To date, 787,000 young people have legally registered with the U.S. government and have shown their willingness to follow our laws. We cannot allow that information to now be used against them in reverse order.”

Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) issued a brief statement in support of the Trump’s decision and calling on Congress to act. We cannot find any statement on the issue from Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS).

As one would expect, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor), applauded the decision and called on Congress not to act and instead move to deport all of the Dreamers. He said on “Fox and Friends” that he supported repealing DACA, and that he opposes replacing it with a congressionally enacted plan.”It’s a tough job market and those in Congress who are saying, ‘Mr. President, don’t get rid of this DACA amnesty,’ should remember, our young U.S. citizens are having a really tough time,” Kobach said. “Why would you want to give an amnesty to 1.7 million young illegal aliens to compete against them?” The evidence shows that DACA recipients are not taking jobs from citizens and actually contribute enormously to the economy of the nation.

For more information on this issue, we would suggest you read the following articles:

CNN has provided a comprehensive Q&A on DACA: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/04/politics/daca-dreamers-immigration-program/index.html

The Washington Post addresses five myths about DACA: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-daca/2017/09/07/e444675a-930c-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html?utm_term=.f417090e4571

Newsweek provides 15 points on DACA statistics: http://www.newsweek.com/dreamers-daca-statistics-trump-deadline-657201

The National Education Association statement on DACA: http://neatoday.org/2017/09/05/daca-nea-response/?_ga=2.147709247.967952866.1504886469-21933477.1504886469

The National PTA statement on DACA: https://www.pta.org/newsevents/newsdetail.cfm?ItemNumber=5363

The National School Boards Association statement on DACA: https://www.nsba.org/newsroom/nsba-statement-trump-administration%E2%80%99s-decision-rescind-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals

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Fixing? Talking. Purging!

Nov 13, 2015 by

Two down, 35,998 to go!

Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office had, until recently, a list of 36,000 Kansas who tried to register to vote and had their registration suspended by Kobach because they did not have the necessary documents to prove their citizenship on hand.

Two of those on the list filed suit and guess what? Kobach cleared them, registered them to vote, and immediately asked the court to toss out the lawsuit. They lack standing, Kobach argued, because they are now registered and suffered no harm.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World,

“one of the men’s attorneys, Will Lawrence, said Kobach appeared to be ‘playing games’ with voters’ rights.

‘Obviously we are happy that our two clients are registered to vote but it’s more than these two individuals who are being affected,’ Lawrence said. ‘If Kobach can just go in and get this done, why not do this for everyone?’”

That’s a pretty good question! Read more about it here.

K-12 Student Success Committee meets again

The second meeting of the 2015 Special Committee on K-12 Student Success was held on Tuesday and was consumed with yet more information gathering.

There were a few interesting notes:

  • In reviewing data on new construction, Sen. Masterson noted that new construction seemed to be resulting in more square footage per student.
  • During a review of superintendent salaries, Rep. Lunn wanted to know if the numbers included special annuity deals (an apparent reference to the agreement between the Blue Valley School District and former superintendent Trigg).
  • When hearing about recent declines in student assessment results, Rep. Lunn asserted that school funding was increased by $312 million but scores went down. This is proof, according to Lunn, that there is no correlation between spending and achievement. (And, yes, Lunn’s assertion about increased funding for school operations is misleading.)
  • During a presentation by Scott Frank, Director of the Legislative Post Audit Division, Sen. Hensley asked Frank to tell the committee what the LPA had discovered about the relationship between spending and achievement. Frank reported that the LPA found a very strong correlation between the two; about 90%.

All of the documents from the latest meeting can be found here. Be prepared! That’s a lot of spreadsheets!

The committee will meet again on December 9.

Is Dissent Treason?

You might remember 2012 when a group of moderate Republican Senators dared to stand up against Governor Brownback’s tax “experiment” and were subsequently purged from the Senate during the Republican primary elections by candidates supported by the Governor. The message then was clear – oppose the Governor’s agenda at your own risk!

During the 2014 legislative session, the public education agenda of the Governor and his allies was blocked by a single vote in the House Education Committee as voucher bills were defeated by one vote when moderate Republicans joined Democrats in supporting public schools. Speaker Ray Merrick took care of that in 2015 by simply removing Rep. Melissa Rooker – the most outspoken Republican advocate for public education on the committee – and sending her to the Transportation Committee.

It appears there will be yet another purging of the moderates this year.

Merrick just announced that two more moderate Republicans will lose their seats on the education committee. Rep. Diana Dierks (Salina) and John Ewy (Jetmore) will be replaced by Kasha Kelley (Arkansas City) and Becky Hutchins (Holton).

Beyond that change, moderate Republicans who have supported the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas have been removed from the House Health and Human Services Committee. Looks like Merrick and Brownback will not tolerate their advocacy either.

Since all legislation must go through the committee process before hitting the floor, these changes are monumental. Brownback and Merrick are trying to ensure that no legislation they oppose will come out of these committees. Moderates are being marginalized. They will be left with taking their advocacy to the floor of the House only, making it much more difficult for them to have an opportunity to shape legislation.

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