After a hiatus for the primary season, Kaw & Border is back for the fall, and will be looking at various races around the metropolitan area and Kansas as a whole. Perhaps look for other contributors as well.
One of the more exciting results for conservatives last Tuesday night was the historical -- yes, historical -- win for Kelly Meigs over Jill Quigley in House District 17, which incorporates northern Lenexa and southern Shawnee.
The win was historical because for the past 18 years, District 17 has been represented by the left wing of the Republican party -- Lisa Benlon, Stephanie Sharp, and Jill Quigley. While all nice women, all three were unquestionably liberal on both social and economic issues, and as such were the personification of the term RINO, or Republican In Name Only.
Several times in the past, conservatives tried unsuccessfully to capture the seat. Jacob Swisher pulled a respectable 43% against Benlon in 2000. Sharp was challenged twice -- once in her initial election in 2002 by Bob Curtis and again in 2004 by Marty Metz, who pulled a respectable 42%. Sharp went unchallenged in the 2006 primary and then resigned in 2007, when Quigley, a Republican for Moore, won the special election among District 17 Precinct Committeepeople 18-12. She was unchallenged in the GOP primary in 2008.
Enter 2010, the year of the conservative, and Kelly Meigs. Meigs, undaunted by previous losses by other conservatives and with the complete knowledge of what it takes to win -- hard work, walking, etc -- defeated Jill Quigley by a healthy 53-47% margin, a nice spread for a challenger in a primary.
This result happened for three key reasons:
- Kelly Meigs was a hell of a candidate who had a clear consistent message and worked very hard at talking to voters. A simple trip through the neighborhoods of the 17th District showed that Meigs had been literally everywhere. She walked, got some mail out, and usually that translates to a win. The fact is, despite the myth that some have been spreading for two decades, conservatives can win in ANY seat in Johnson County and the 17th District is NOT liberal. It may not be Olathe, but it isn't chalk full of pro-abortion tax-and-spenders either, and Meigs proved that.
- The era of the true hard-core Republican "moderate" is essentially dead or at least on serious life support. Not only was this proven in the 17th District, it was also shown in Sheryl Spalding barely escaping defeat (by just 33 votes, a 17 vote margin in essence) in the 29th District, as well as Kris Kobach's overwhelming win in the Secretary of State's race, as well as the fact that Kevin Yoder only scored 44% of the vote, despite having support from a solid slice of conservatives. And Yoder is far to the right of the Sheryl Spaldings and Jill Quigleys of the world.
- Finally, Jill Quigley isn't (Stephanie) Sharp. Stephanie Sharp, to her credit, was a very hard campaigner who largely adopted conservative election tactics in her many wins in the district. She also had a bit of a conservative background, but just ran hard left while in the legislature, supporting massive tax increases, supporting abortion rights and opposing the marriage amendment. Quigley, on the other hand, was a well known Republican for Moore supporter with a spouse who contributed to Howard Dean in his 2004 bid for President. She had quite possibly the worst record of anyone in legislative history that actually sat on the Republican side of the aisle, a big mistake for someone living in a district whose Senator is Mary Pilcher Cook. Quigley's politics might have had a chance in northeastern Johnson County, but not in District 17 -- the fact is, once she was challenged in a primary, she was destined to defeat.
So, with Meigs win in the primary, one would think that means that Quigley would respectfully realize that she is too liberal for the district, recognize the reality that is 2010 politics, and maybe, just maybe, even support Kelly Meigs in an attempt to appear more reasonable if things swing back in a couple of years.
Instead of this intelligent approach, Jill Quigley is once again proving she isn't so sharp -- but this case, with a lowercase "s". This week, Martin Hawver revealed in his "Hawver Report" email blast, revealed the following:
It’s being quietly discussed in Johnson County that Bryan Cox, the un-contested Democratic nominee for the 17th House District, may resign his victory in favor of State Rep. Jill Quigley, R-Lenexa.
Cox said he’s considering whether he will retain the Democratic nomination, or resign it, presumably in favor of Quigley who would change parties to seek the seat as a Democrat. Efforts to reach Quigley have been unsuccessful.
Can anyone say sore loser?
So, essentially, for those of you who don't follow Kansas politics, this is what they'd do:
1. Cox would declare he's "incapable of fulfilling the duties of office" (I guess because he's a bad candidate?), triggering a vacancy on the ballot.
2. Quigley would finally admit the truth and officially switch parties.
3. The Democratic Precinct Committeemen and Women within District 17 (of which there are only 8!!) would meet and fill the vacancy on the ballot created by Mr. Cox.
4. Jill Quigley would be nominated and "elected" to be on the ballot as a DEMOCRAT to replace Mr. Cox, so she could face Kelly Meigs again in the fall.
Oh, man. How bad of a candidate must Mr. Cox be in order for this kind of Chicago style politics to be tried right here in sleepy old Lenexa and Shawnee? Think of what the Dems are trying to tell him:
"Um, yeah...we know you wanted to run for this and stuff, but we want to replace you on the ballot with this lady who just lost 53-47 in the REPUBLICAN primary. So could you, like, declare you're unable to serve?"
Way to build confidence in your new candidates, Democrats!
Obviously, what Jill Quigley's thinking in this scenario is that she would attempt to "Phill Kline" Kelly Meigs and thus get all of the Democrats and enough moderate Republicans and Unaffiliateds to win in the general election.
The math, on pure numbers alone, theoretically could work but Quigley's thinking does not take into account these obvious roadblocks:
1. Trying to "Phill Kline" Kelly Meigs is absolutely ridiculous. She just beat you in a primary, Jill. The Dems tried to do the same to Mary Pilcher Cook in 2008, a year much friendlier for Dems in Kansas than 2010, and she crushed you 55-45. So go ahead and try.
2. People don't like this kind of game, particularly in 2010. YOU LOST as your declared party. It's one thing to pull a Cindy Neighbor and switch parties and run in the NEXT election -- but in the SAME election in which you JUST lost, using some quasi-legal maneuver designed for people who either relocated, are injured somehow, or dead is not something the public will like -- it would make a mockery of our election laws.
3. Perhaps the district is CONSERVATIVE AFTER ALL, or at least more in line with Kelly Meigs common sense conservative thinking than Jill Quigley's left-wing ideology. Perhaps it doesn't want a Howard Dean-supporting, Dennis Moore-supporting liberal who loves tax increases and is for abortion on demand.
Yet, for our part here at Kaw & Border, we really hope Quigley tries to pull this stunt. It would be thoroughly rejected and motivate conservatives to fight even harder to get Kelly in, and she would likely crush Mrs. Quigley by a wide margin.
However, for the long term sanity of our state, we hope that the State Legislature makes an adjustment to this law. It's one thing to fill a vacancy for someone who has died, relocated, or somehow truly unable to run, but to allow this kind of shenanigans sets up scenarios that are truly shady.
It basically allows either party, if they are unable to find the candidate they want by the filing deadline of June 10, to nominate a stand in, wait til the primary results of the other party to see if they have a chance, and then have that person declare that he or she is unable to serve, and then fill the spot on the ballot with the person they really wanted, thereby extending the filing deadline.
Of course, the problem would be in writing language that would prevent that kind of backroom crap from occurring while still allowing for the replacement of someone who was truly unable to run and thereby allowing the voters a choice...but surely something could be written to prevent a PRIMARY CANDIDATE FROM ONE PARTY to be the GENERAL ELECTION NOMINEE OF THE OTHER PARTY in the SAME CYCLE!
In the end, Jill Quigley only has til about Monday night to decide this, because Mr. Cox would have to get his notice in within 7 days of the primary certification. Reading the mind of an sore loser like Jill Quigley is difficult, but we'll see if she comes to her senses.
If not, bring it on!