Saturday, November 8, 2008

Election Reaction: Conservatives on Rise in Kansas

The 2008 elections have come and gone and now all that is left is the analysis of what happened and how it pertains to the future.

One thing that the mainstream media is unlikely to mention is that in Kansas as a whole, Democrats are in defeat while conservatives are slowly on the rise. The Kansas City area and Johnson County in particularly are a bit of a different story, but opportunities abound for conservatives there as well.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius had a bad night. In the Kansas Senate, Democrats actually lost one seat -- having picked up Roger Pine's seat but losing Greta Goodwin (to Steve Abrams) and the seat held by Jim Barone (to Bob Marshall). In the Kansas House, they did gain 1 -- by virtue of winning a net additional seats in Johnson County for a total of six wins -- three of which were by very narrow margins. She lost Congresswoman Boyda to State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, one of the few Republican pickups on the night. Two of her party switchers -- Ron Wimmer and Rick Guinn -- went down to defeat -- to two Republicans who lean conservative, Julia Lynn and Steve Howe.

Conservatives, however, had a good night. In the Kansas Senate, solid conservatives Mary Pilcher Cook and Steve Abrams had convincing victories against well funded opponents. Also entering the Senate are other solid conservatives from the House, including Jeff Colyer, Ty Masterson, and Dick Kelsey. In the Kansas House, while moderates Ronnie Metsker, Jim Yonally and John Skubal all went down to defeat in Johnson County, conservatives Anthony Brown, Kasha Kelley, Lance Kinzer, and others rode to resounding victories.

So where does this put Kansas as we head towards 2010?

First off, we have a likely close battle for leadership in the Senate, where by most counts conservatives are a couple votes away from having control. If they get power, will moderate power-brokers like Steve Morris and John Vratil even stick around? Time will tell. Even if the moderates hold on to leadership, their lives will be not be made easy with Huelskamp and Pyle being joined by Abrams, Pilcher Cook, Masterson, Kelsey, and Colyer. The conservative agenda will have play.

The 2010 election is also setting up well for the first conservative surge in quite a while. The biggest question is what does the governor do? Does she get appointed to the Obama Cabinet, leaving Mark Parkinson as the incumbent? Or does she run for the U.S. Senate? News today has Jerry Moran running for the U.S. Senate, allowing the conservative Huelskamp to run for District 1.

Another huge race will be the open seat for Governor, which Sam Brownback will likely be running for. Brownback's candidacy represents the single greatest opportunity for conservatives in state history. It could set up a wave down the ballot, and potentially even put District 3 in play, should Dennis Moore retire, as some say he wants to. And with the Democrats only candidates being appointments (Attorney General, State Treasurer), all the statewide offices appear in play for quality conservative candidates.

In Johnson County, things are a slightly different story. As noted, the Democrats now hold 6 of the 22 State House seats, though three by narrow margins. Look for Districts 16, 18 and 19 to have races with solid conservatives representing the Republicans this time. With the heavy advance voting experience this time around, look for the huge early voting advantage that the Democrats have to wane, paving the way for likely victories for conservative challengers. It's amazing that in Johnson County that there could be so much diversity, with Olathe and southern Overland Park being solid conservative and areas towards Wyandotte and the Missouri lines turning purple.

The next two years will be fun for sure. Right now, we're all waiting for the shoe to drop regarding Sebelius's plans -- and everything will then cascade from there.

We'll be here to report the fallout!