Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Tea Party Returns to Boston

One year ago, on January 20, Barack Obama was sworn into office on a message of hope and change but that was really about government control, increases taxes, and massive spending.

In response to the bailouts, stimulus packages, government takeovers, and other proposals such as cap and trade, card check, and now ObamaCare, the tea party movement was born. It first began in small gatherings at local Congressional offices and other small protests around the country. It then turned into a national protest on tax day, and the media began to take notice.

The question at the time -- a question we covered here at Kaw & Border -- was about whether the tea parties could turn into a real political movement that could achieve political victory. After all, the tea party movement is not represented by any one organization or individual, which is probably it's strength -- it is a true grassroots network of independents, conservatives and traditional Republicans -- all whom are deeply concerned about the road our nation is going down.

Elections are also not won on street corners or in protests, but by funding and supporting political campaigns that aim to replace those in office who are causing the damage to America. I order for a movement to truly gain stature in the American political system, it must achieve positive results at the ballot box. Otherwise, they will lose steam and be marganlized.

The first test of the tea party movement came in the November 2009 elections. They could certainly claim partial credit in the wins in Virginia and New Jersey, though one could claim that those elections may have happened anyway given the resurgence of Republicans in Virginia and the unpopularity of John Corzine. They also achieved a partial victory in New York -- ensuring that RINO Dede Scozzafava did not get seated but failing to get Doug Hoffman over the top. However, it could be argued that Doug Hoffman was not a great candidate.

However, in a twist of historical irony, the tea party returns to Massachusetts in the form of a political brigade aiming to claim the vacant Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy. Amazingly, the special election is also being held on Tuesday, January 19, exactly a year from Obama's inauguration.

Even with Obama's sinking numbers, Democrats thought they had this one in the bag. Unfortunately for them, their candidate -- Martha Coakley -- is turning out to be a real dud -- and the Republicans, unlike in the NY-23 race, have recruited a potential star in Scott Brown, who comes across, while a registered Republican -- as an independent conservative voice -- the kind of candidate that will succeed in 2010 (take notice, national and local Republicans!).

And, polling is reflecting that. A week ago, Rasmussen showed Hoffman down just 9 points -- still a healthy margin with only two weeks left. Now, that margin is down to 49-47 in a new poll by Rasmussen. Just this week, Brown had a money bomb that raised over $1 million dollars in one day, a phenomenal amount of money.

He also dominated her in a debate, and had a line that all candidates dream of making -- the kind that will set the tone for the campaign and can win you an election. In response to a question asked by David Gergen regarding whether he was willing to let health care reform die as the representative of "Ted Kennedy's Senate seat", Brown said "This isn't the Ted Kennedy seat or the Democrats seat, it's the people's seat."

At that point, it seemed like nothing else mattered. He's an insurgent candidate with a grasp of the issues and his conservative message is playing very well in Massachusetts, of all places.

The race will be tight next week but the fact it is now a tossup shows you just how far the Democrats have fallen. A Brown victory will be a political earthquake not felt since 1994 -- the safest of all safe seats taken over by a Republican -- a conservative Republican -- funded and supported by tea partiers coast to coast -- that caused the death of ObamaCare and the beginning of the end for the current regime in Washington.

What is also shows is the awesome political power the tea party and conservative movements can wield when they focus their efforts. Brown raising $1 million in a day is amazing, but candidates nationwide could benefit from this political insurgency and would only need a fraction of that effort. Most primary elections in Congressional races can be won with just a few hundred thousand dollars. State legislative elections can be won with well under $100,000, depending on the size of the district.

The challenge for the tea party movement will be in deciding which candidates to support. More than one viable candidate may emerge in a particular race. But perhaps that isn't a problem after all -- perhaps what the Massachusetts example shows is that political offices will no longer be controlled by back room deal, whether they occur in the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. Perhaps it will be left to the candidates themselves and the movements they represent to rise up and earn support and get the word out about their campaigns.

Perhaps, once again, elections will truly decided by the people. That, no matter what your persusasion is, is a very good thing.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Find us on RedCounty.com

While we will continue to post here, we wanted to let you know RedCounty.com is featuring a weekly Kaw & Border column each Monday. Here is a link to our last post, "Could Johnson County Experience a Conservative Wave in 2010?" Below is the content:

Could Johnson County Experience a Conservative Wave in 2010?
That's the question conservative activists, potential candidates, and political analysts should be asking in Johnson County as we enter 2010. With Sam Brownback virtually unopposed for Governor, and the winner of the Moran-Tiahrt primary virtually unopposed for the U.S Senate, Kris Kobach likely to be the Sec of State nominee, and with conservative candidates relatively likely to emerge in all three Congressional open races, and no major Democrat on the ballot with any name ID, Republicans stand to return Kansas to it's solid red-state status from the annoying shade of purple it had through the 90's due to people like Kathleen Sebelius, Mark Parkinson, Paul Morrison, Dennis Moore, Nancy Boyda, and the like.

At lower levels, the Democrats only made modest gains, but one area they made progress was in Johnson County. From 1995-1996, there were no Democratic seats in the Kansas House or Senate in JoCo. For years, there was one -- Sue Storm in District 22. Now there are six. In fact, if you break down the 22 House Reps, this is how they could be ideogically aligned:
8 Conservatives2 "Republicans"6 RINO's6 Democrats

With 2010 looking to be such a strong year nationally and statewide for the GOP, that trend could easily find itself in Johnson County as well. The question will be whether Democrats are ousted by RINO's or conservatives, and whether any open seats are taken over by RINO's or conservatives as well.

The trend as of now favors conservatives. Within the last few weeks, several credible conservative Republicans have emerged to run for seats that are currently held by Democrats.
Let's start off with three pick offs that are more than likely to occur:

- John Rubin, in District 18, has announced he's running against Cindy Neighbor, whom he narrowly lost to in 2008, a strong Democratic year. Look for a Rubin victory here. More about Rubin can be found at http://www.johnrubin.net/

- Amanda Grosserode, in District 16, has announced she's running against Gene Rardin, who has narrowly won the last two elections. I would hate to be Gene Rardin, as Grosserode, a leader in the tea party movement and extremely well organized, will walk circles around Rardin. More can be found out about Amanda at http://www.amanda4kansas.com/.

- Brett Hildabrand, in District 23, has announced he's running against Milack Talia, who defeated August Bogina in 2008. Hildabrand is a strong, liberty-based, pro-life conservative who will campaign hard for this district. More about Brett can be found out at http://hildabrand2010.com/.

The theme in the above three seats is they all have been held by conservative Republicans before. District 18 ist he former home of Senator Mary Pilcher Cook and Phill Kline. District 16 is the former home of Karen Divita and Tim Carmody. District 23 was represented by Cliff Franklin and Judy Morrison.

Victories by these three individuals in these seats -- which is expected if 2010 trend continues -- would bump up the number of solid conservatives from 8 to 11 and lower the number of Democrats down from 6 to 3.

In addition, conservative Greg Smith has filed to run against RINO-turned-Democrat Lisa Benlon in District 22, the hardest seat for Republicans to capture in Johnson County . Greg Smith, well known due to the tragic murder of their daugther, Kelsey, is a strong candidate and will present a strong challenge to Benlon.

There are also a number of other opportunities for conservatives:

- Jill Quigley, a RINO from District 17, has not yet been challenged in this competitive district for conservatives. Should conservatives find a candidate willing to work hard ala Grosserode, Rubin, Smith, or Hildabrand, Quigley will be in for a fight.

- Delores Furtado, a RINO-turned-Democrat from District 19, is extremely liberal and should have been defeated last time. There is some indication James Walker, who narrowly lost the GOP Primary in 2008 to eventual general election loser John Skubal, is going to run again and if true, conservatives would be wise to get behind Walker in this very winnable-yet-rarely-tried seat for conservatives.

- In District 25, RINO Terrie Huntington has vacated the seat due to her victory in the special precinct election to fill the next year of David Wysong's four year Senate term. (Huntington will have to run for a special two year term in 2010). That means her seat, which will be filled by a precinct election as well, will be virtually open in 2010 and could be taken by a conservative who is willing to knock on every door.

- In District 20, mod/conservative fence sitter Kevin Yoder is running for Congress. This north-south running district has a number of conservatives in it, and conservatives have had a number of cracks at it, including one against Gerry Ray in 2000, and twice against Yoder in 2002 and 04 before Yoder started to drift right. One wonders if in this open seat, if conservatives might stand a chance in the conservative-leaning year of 2010.

- In our view, conservatives should also not be afraid to challenge RINO's Kay Wolf, Sheryl Spalding, and Ron Worley in primaries. None of had truly serious primary challenges, and all are in territory where conservatives have done well. In District 29, conservatives Dennis Wilson, Patricia Lightner, and Patricia Kilpatrick held the seat before handing it to Spalding in 2006. In District 21, conservative-leaning Dean Newton held the seat comfortably before retiring a few years back mid-term. In District 30, conservative Kay O'Connor and conservative-leaning Julia Lynn performed well in the district in their Senate races. With tea party-inspired candidates emerging, all of these figures would be wise to watch their political backs in 2010.

Moral of this story? With solid conservatives Siegfreid, Kinzer, Brown, Donohoe, Kiegerl, Merrick, Schwab, and Olson all planning to run again, their seats are safe. With solid conservatives already running in 5 seats, and with seats being vacated (Yoder and Huntington), 2010 is slowly emerging as a year conservatives can make significant gains in Johnson County. Any conservative who is interested in running and lives in an available seat would be wise to seriously consider running in 2010. There is likely not to be a better year for conservatives anytime soon, particularly in a very politically-fickle area like Johnson County (demonstrated by the 8-2-6-6 split mentioned above).