Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sarah Palin vs. the Establishment

As we have become accustomed to in modern politics, even though we are not even to Thanksgiving of 2010 yet, rampant speculation has already begun on the 2012 Presidential race -- specifically, the potential field for the Republican nomination. Much of this early fervor is centered around one woman -- Sarah Palin.

To be clear, though this blog is a huge fan of Sarah Palin, we have yet to decide on whether we think Sarah Palin should run for President or not or whether she would be the best choice if she does. Though much of the talk focuses on Palin, Gingrich and the leftovers from the 2008 field, plus a few others, there is still plenty of time for candidates currently not on the "serious radar" -- like Jeb Bush, for instance -- to end up emerging in the coming months.

That said, with the former Alaska Governor herself being honest about the fact she is seeking the office, much of the attention lately has been on her, and deservedly so. After all, if it wasn't for Sarah Palin drawing massive crowds in 2008, there would have been exactly ZERO enthusiasm for the McCain candidacy, and she clearly had a great deal of impact on the 2010 races -- and while not all of her endorsed candidates won, she clearly helped all of them get closer to victory than they would have, including Christine O'Donnell and Joe Miller, who many point to as Palin failures.

Of course, the fact that so many try to assign credit or blame for all candidates wins or losses on Palin shows the power she has in the eyes of the political media. Some of it is overstated -- she is not responsible for the fact some candidates turn out to be duds or run bad campaigns. However, some of it is clearly understated -- there is no individual out there right now, Barack Obama included, who has the ability to generate movement in a race on his/her own.

Finally, while we object to the notion that Sarah Palin is the face of the tea party movement -- as there is no real one singular face to a movement that is so massive and unorganized (not a bad thing, necessarily), she is, in our eyes, the face of what is, in our eyes, a more important political phenomenon that has emerged in 2010 -- and that is anti-establishmentism. Some will try to downplay the fact there is an establishment at all, and while sometimes drawing the line between what is "establishment" and "non establishment" can be tricky, in many cases we known it when we see it and we know it indeed exists. Whatever "it" is, it clearly does not like Sarah Palin.

The reasons for this are several-fold. Some of them like her generally but dislike the prospect of her running based purely on political numbers by those reading the early tea leaves -- they seem someone with very high unfavorables for a potential Presidential candidate, yet someone who could also emerge from the primary and thus sink our chances of defeating Obama. Basically, if these same numbers showed her being very popular, these folks would be singing a different tune.

To be clear, this group of Palin detractors bothers us at K&B the least -- in fact, it is likely that Palin herself is seriously weighing those very numbers as she decides whether to make a bid. Clearly, any serious presidential candidate has to take that into account -- namely, in her case, can those unfavorables be brought down? If she feels they can -- she will likely get in the race. If not, she'll keep doing what she is doing now.

However, it is worth noting that we feel that anyone who feels it is impossible Palin could improve those numbers is wrong -- the fact is Palin generates news simply by opening her mouth and that kind of access and ability to generate news brings with it the unique ability to perhaps move the perception of herself in in the way someone like Tim Pawently cannot. Certainly, some opinions of Palin -- both positive and negative -- will be locked in -- but our sense is that some of the dislike of Palin is rather soft, based on innuendos and perception rather than substance -- and that if people get to know Palin more and trust that she is indeed competent and a leader , that their opinions of her could shift in a way that gets her into general election electability range.

So, to be clear, discussion over Palin's electability is fair game. What bothers us, however, is the level of Palin hatred that is now seeping into some aspects of the conservative movement. While we would expect this level of "Palin derangement syndrome" from the left, it is disappointing when it comes from the right.

Last week, Politico reported that many in the party establishment were "fearing" a Palin candidacy -- basically, the calculation goes that she could win the nomination but would get crushed in the general election. This "panicky fear" demonstrated itself in conservative-yet-establishment columnist Mona Charen's recent piece on entitled "Why Sarah Palin Shouldn't Run".

Now, certainly, Mona Charen has a right to express a view that any candidate should or shouldn't run. That's fine in itself. Perhaps, for instance, it would be better if Palin focused on rallying the troops. Perhaps her numbers are just too low. Perhaps there is some better candidate on the horizon who inspires us all (more on that in a bit). That would be fine.

But, Mona Charen only loosely talks about those issues, instead resorting to what felt to us was a bit of an angry rant. Here are a few examples:

"Americans will be looking for sober competence, managerial skill, and maturity, not sizzle and flash."

"Instead, she quit her job as governor after two and a half years, published a book (another is due next week), and seemed to chase money and empty celebrity. Now, rather than being able to highlight the accomplishments of Sarah Palin's Alaska, we get "Sarah Palin's Alaska," another cheesy entrant in the reality show genre."

"But Reagan didn't mud wrestle with the press. Palin seems consumed and obsessed by it, as her rapid Twitter finger attests, and thus encourages the sniping. She should be presiding over meetings on oil and gas leases in the North Slope, or devising alternatives to Obamacare. Every public spat with Dave Letterman or Politico, or the "lamestream media," or God help us, Levi Johnston, diminishes her."

'Speaking of television, sorry, this must be mentioned. Have you watched "Dancing With the Stars"? Cheesy would be several steps up for this one. Perhaps the former governor should not be blamed for the decisions of her adult daughter. Yet there in the audience we see Sarah and Todd Palin, mugging for the camera and cheering on their unwed-mother daughter as she bumps and grinds to the tune of "Mamma Told Me (Not to Come)."

"She would be terrific as a talk-show host -- the new Oprah. "

"But as a presidential candidate? Someone to convince critical independent voters that Republicans can govern successfully? Absolutely not."

Our reactions to these hits are several:

First of all, calling a former Governor and Mayor and long time servant of the people of Alaska a "talk show host" is an insult to Palin herself, the people of Alaska, and the millions of Americans who support her --- particularly conservatives, which Charen claims to be, namely those who worked for McCain in 2008 when they wouldn't have otherwise. While Charen seems to indicate that the TLC show and Dancing with the Stars are beneath Palin, it seems to use that it is beneath Charen to whine in this manner.

Second of all, Mona Charen tries to imply that Palin isn't of substance at all, as if she is kind of ditzy TV clown who doesn't care about the country, but only herself, when a simple trip to her Facebook page would reveal post after post that delves into areas of policy, from energy to health care to taxes. While Palin might not be hosting think-tank-style seminars that no one ever hears about or sees, she is clearly addressing the topics of the day. Could Palin perhaps look to devise ways to express her policy views more? Perhaps so, that would be fair. But rather than making that point, Charen plays into the liberal characterization of Palin by basically saying she doesn't care -- or doesn't know -- about policy and thus is rock climbing on television, when the opposite is true and Charen -- and those like her -- know it.

Third of all, regarding the TLC show itself, we watched it and found it incredibly enjoyable and not the cheese-fest that Charen and other Palin detractors say it was. It provided very beautiful imagery of Alaska and its beauty from the perspective of a former Governor who clearly loves her state and whose family spends a lot of time exploring that state. What could be more American than that? Yes, it was a "reality show" in the sense what was going on was real and not made up -- but is that bad? While the verdict on the show is far from finished -- it's only had one episode as of this post -- it seems to us that Charen already had likely written her piece and predetermined her view of the show before seeing it -- and that's assuming she did even watch it. Her attempt to try to classify it in the same vein as something like the Biggest Loser or Survivor is at best, unfair, and at worst, an outright lie about what the show was about.

What Charen ignores and Palin grasps is that in today's world of communication, thinking outside the box -- such as having a show like Sarah Palin's Alaska -- might actually be a way to reach voters we wouldn't otherwise reach. For example, middle aged suburban women are a key demographic Republicans need to reach in 2012 - well, folks, guess who watches TLC? This isn't hard, yet Mona Charen would rather Palin appear on C-Span or PBS apparently.

Finally, let's address the core issue here -- electability. In our eyes, this panic over Palin's candidacy is delusional and insulting to Republican primary voters. The fact is, in order for a candidate to emerge from what will surely be a crowded field -- or even a small field - that candidate has to display a combination of charisma, intelligence, and yes, substance -- in order to win. If Palin comes across as the Mona Charens of the world portray her -- she'll lose. However, as we suspect, that if Palin comes across as the credible, passionate, affable, even if slightly quirky former Alaska Governor that people followed so loyally in 2008 -- she will have as good a chance as any to win the nomination -- AND the general election, because over time, she will build her reputation among voters enough to win the 270 electoral votes necessary to win.

Of course, the key ingredient in the establishment's fear over Palin is something that is her strength -- she's damn good at what she does. She has clear convictions and is unafraid to say them. Yes, she tangles with the media but that's a GOOD thing -- too often, our side isn't willing to do so. She's very charismatic and while some don't like her quirks, many do and there is no question she can draw and rile up a crowd -- yet in a different way than Obama did. Rather than using TelePrompTer-induced flowery rhetoric, Palin speaks plainly and from the heart, and yeah, to the establishment, that's annoying. To many, however, it's what they've been looking for.

The fact is, Sarah Palin has what few candidates ever have at this stage -- a following. Guess who else had a following like this at this stage? Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, two "rock stars" (even if you don't like Obama, clearly he was that to the Democrats in 2007/2008) in their own right. The fact is she has legions of supporters and those supporters are not mind-numbed robots -- there is a reason for why they like her. And rather than ripping her, it might serve Charen, Karl Rove, Kathleen Parker and others like them well to look and see why.

Furthermore, what you never hear talked about is the fact that none of the other candidates in the field exactly inspire confidence and visions of victory either. Seriously -- Mike Huckabee? Mitt Romney? John Thune, for goodness sake?

Good men, indeed. Not disasters or anything, but hardly people that most Americans would envision leading the country. If that person did exist -- a clear inspiring conservative who presented an alterative to Palin who perhaps also was anti establishment -- those who think Palin might not win would have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately for them, outside of possibly Chris Christie, who has said he will not run on numerous times and whose conservative bonafides are only somewhat clear -- no one out there is demonstrating that "oh, this may be the guy/girl" thought right now that so many Republicans are looking to have.

Finally, it is our view that Republicans should be not be so quick to dismiss the POSITIVES of a Palin nomination nor should they underestimate her -- not just on the ability to win a primary (as they clearly feel she could), but more so on the ability to handle substantive issues and navigate the political waters in a way that people view her favorably.

For if she does handle that well, and the combination of what she is doing in the media, her book deal, and in speaking engagements do eventually start turning her numbers favorably, there is no question in our mind that she could win the general election.

And that, at the heart of it, is perhaps what the establishment fears the most. Call it "protesting too much" -- but the "she can't win" talk is just a little too much for us. A Sarah Palin victory would upset their collective apple carts and that is what they fear the very most. Sure, they can handle a Rand Paul here or a Marco Rubio there crashing their cocktail party of, as Charen puts it, "sensible" Republicans.

But President Palin? That has to be stopped at all costs, even if it means lies and misrepresentations about the most compelling conservative figure in a generation.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Winn, Lose, or Make Excuses

In the Kubler-Ross model of the "five strages of grief" after a devasting loss, the first stage is denial, followed by anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. In the case of long term Johnson County RINO's Dick Bond and Bob Vancrum, this model seems to be playing out true to form in their reaction to the devasting loss of one of their own -- Larry Winn -- to hard-working conservative Jason Osterhaus, who defeated Winn last week 53% - 47% in the race for the County Commission in the 4th District.

In an article entitled "Changes in store in county leadership" in the Johnson County Sun dated Wednesday, November 10, Bob Vancrum and Dick Bond, former legislators out of the 1980's and 1990's, were asked to explain by reporter Chuck Kurtz this giant political upset. Rather than give Osterhaus credit for his grassroots campaign or acknowledge that perhaps that so-called "moderates" are a dying breed in Johnson County, Vancrum and Bond were clearly neck-deep in the grief process when they gave their silly excuse for the defeat of their fellow RINO comrade -- blaming his loss on the fact the Shawnee Mission School Board redoing boundaries and closing schools. Larry Winn is currently President of the Shawnee Mission School Board.

In Vancrum's case, he seems to be in the first stage of simple denial:

"I think that loss was in part about people being upset about the school boundaries in the Shawnee Mission School District," he said, going on to say "That was not handled very well, and it came back to hurt him."

Bond, long time enemy of conservatives, seemed to be in a mix of all stages, including anger, depression, and perhaps a little barganing. Bond starts off by sharing Vancrum's sense of denial, though Bond's own quote refutes his ridiculous excuse:

"I was surprised, I was supporting him," he said. "But I think the school proposal got him a number of negative votes even though he had not announced his position in regard to the proposal by the superintendent."

It was Bond's second statement went a couples stages further in his grief process:

"He was (in the voters' eyes) guilty by association, and that's too bad. (depression) He would have been an excellent commissioner. (barganing) Osterhaus is far, far right and backed by (former state legislator and former Johnson County Community College Trustee) Ben Hodge." (anger)

I understand Bond's depression -- his long time friend lost an election, in the same geographic area where Bond himself represented when he was a State Senator, which must have doubly hard. We've all been there. All of us have once said after a losing campaign, "Candidate A would have made a great X". And we've all been known to spew a little venom towards the victor who defeated our hero candidate by exagerating the truth a bit. "Such and such is a communist."

So, Mr. Bond and Vancrum, I get it. Elections are tough and losses are tougher. The problem is that in their grief process, they're completely ignorant of the facts of the situation surrounding Winn's defeat -- or perhaps, even more likely, they're simply choosing to ignore them, out of fear of admitting what it means for their ever-shrinking portion of the political pie in Kansas.

Let's be clear about what happened last Tuesday. It had zero -- or, at the very most, extremely little -- to do with anything regarding the Shawnee Mission School Board. As Bond himself acknowledged, Larry Winn hadn't taken a position on the proposed changes. In fact, the Shawnee Mission School Board didn't redo the boundaries nor close any schools. In fact, just this week -- a full week after Winn's defeat -- they decided to not vote on the measure. All that had happened was a proposal by SM School Board Superintendent Gene Johnson -- a controversial one, indeed -- but one that Winn hadn't taken a position on, much less opposed. And, furthermore, the logic in Vancrum's and Bond's statement made no sense -- it's not as if voting against Bond for the County Commission was going to remove him from the Shawnee Mission School Board -- if anything, voting against him would have given him the political freedom to vote for closing the schools, if in fact that was his position in the first place.

What Bond and Vancrum are ignoring in their excuse making is not one, but several very large elephants in the room that led to to the Winn loss:

1. So-called moderates are a dying breed in Johnson County. If Bond and Vancrum would open their eyes, they'd realize that Winn was simply the latest one to go down. In 2008, State School Board Member and RINO Sue Gamble was crushed by Mary Pilcher Cook. In 2010, RINO Jill Quigley lost to Kelly Meigs in the Republican primary in a district dominated by "moderates" like Steve Cloud, Lisa Benlon, and Stephanie Sharp for more than 15 years. Former RINO-turned Democrat Cindy Neighbor was trounced by John Rubin 59% - 41%. Former RINO-turned Democrat Lisa Benlon lost to Greg Smith. RINO Sheryl Spalding nearly lost to Richard Downing in the primary. Owen Donohoe defeated public school-backed Joe Novak 62-38%. RINO-favorite Delores Furtado lost to Jim Denning. RINO "Enemy #1" Kris Kobach flew through the primary and the general. The fact is, while Vancrum and Bond, a well known king-maker for "moderates" going back more than two decades, may yearn for the days they were in power and conservatives were cast as stealthy nut-jobs who hated public education, those days are past and after 18+ years of lies and deception, the people aren't buying "Bonds" anymore. They're buying Kinzers, Grosserodes, Rubins, and yes, an Osterhaus.

2. Tuesday's result had really nothing to do with anything that happened on Tuesday - it started six months ago when Jason Osterhaus started walking, kept walking, and didn't stop walking until it got dark the night before the election, communicating his common sense, independent conservative message to the voters in a kind, straightforward, respectful way, earning their trust and respect over many months. When he didn't walk, he called, or he had friends drop literature for him. And while yes, some assistance from the Kansas Government Reform PAC clearly aided Osterhaus, the victory was in large part due to the fact Jason Osterhaus will go down as history as the hardest working candidate since Kay O'Connor.

Remember Kay? Well, if you don't, Bond and Vancrum should have, because Kay's election should have taught them a lesson. In 2000, then Rep. Kay O'Connor, known as the voucher lady at the time, ran against State Senator and three-term Lenexa Mayor Rich Becker, a popular and kind fellow who was nonetheless one of the RINO's in Bond's zoo.

O'Connor, much like Osterhaus, had no money. Becker had essentially unlimited funds and the backing of those who couldn't stand Kay and a name that few felt could be beat. Yet, much like Osterhaus, Kay walked. And she walked. And she walked. And she walked some more. She didn't hide how she felt nor was she stealthy. As someone once said, no one ever voted for Kay O'Connor by accident. Uncompromising in her principles, come election day, Kay won -- and much like in the Johnson County Sun article today, similar quotes of shock and dismay were given by Bond and Vancrum 10 years ago, rather than refusing to recognize that perhaps she had appeal, much like the refusal to recognize that Osterhaus had appeal this year.

The point here is this -- it is an absolute insult to Jason and the hard working volunteers who campaigned with him for Bond and Vancrum to insinuate that Jason Osterhaus merely represented some kind of protest vote over some line being redrawn or a middle school being closed. The fact is that due to his walking and actually talking to the voters over a 6 month period, there was perhaps no more well known candidate in history in that area of the county than Jason Osterhaus, and the people liked what they came to know and what he believed in, and they voted for him.

3. On the flip side of Osterhaus' hard work was Winn's lack thereof. While Osterhaus had yard signs throughout the district -- in yards, a sign of his real actual support -- there is little evidence Larry Winn ever appeared on someone's door step, instead relying upon Dick Bond's 1990's-era playbook -- large signs in front of shopping centers owned by their economic development buddies; large mailers full of quotes and endorsements from unknown Overland Park City Councilman and other members of the Johnson County oligarchy; and the arrogant-yet-all-too-apparent belief that no young right winger like Jason Osterhaus could come close to the son of a former Congressman.

Truth be told, given Winn's money advantage over Osterhaus, there was no excuse for his loss. Not the school board. Not voter confusion. Not Ben Hodge. It was Larry Winn's refusal, as is typically the case by the wine-and-cheese crowd, to get out and actually talk to the voters and find out what they really think.

See, if Larry Winn, Dick Bond, Bob Vancrum, Jill Quigley, Sheryl Spalding, Lisa Benlon, Cindy Neighbor and others like them would actually get out and talk to the people, they'd realize that perhaps that not only are people concerned with the potential of a few lines being redrawn or schools closing, perhaps they're also concerned about the fact their sales tax went up, the fact their property taxes are too high, the fact the state is in deep debt due to massive education spending, the fact that their liberty is being taken way by big government liberals -- and perhaps that they would like those trends to be reversed, and Jason Osterhaus, along with the other victors last Tuesday, had pledged to reverse them.

In fact, out of all the conservatives who ran for office in Johnson County on Tuesday night -- all of them won. Every. Single. One.

Perhaps the day will come when Bond and Vancrum, and surely others like them, reach that final stage of grief -- acceptance -- and they will accept the fact that the voters are becoming more conservative, that they voted FOR Jason Osterhaus, and that when challenged, RINOs are being rejected coast to coast, including right in the heart of the area once represented by Senator Bond himself.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Good Riddance, Gene Rardin.

Hey, Democrats! Want to know how to avoid crushing losses in the future like you suffered on Tuesday night?

How about NOT electing bigoted, left-wing candidates like State Rep. Gene Rardin, who in this pathetic blog post, attacked his opponent, Republican Amanda Grosserode, for homeschooling her children. Here is the actual text:

My Opponent Homeschools Her Children
If you are not aware of this, you should be, before you vote. I taught in SM Schools and support funding for a strong public education system. I demonstrated my belief by attending SM Schools as did both of my children.

Amanda Grosserode does not understand the importance of our public schools and has demonstrated that lack of understanding by withdrawing her own children from public schools in favor of home schooling.

The author of this blog attended SM Schools, but this is a pathetic statement. How can Gene Rardin even stoop to the level of attacking Amanda's choice of how to educate her children? Why should that matter? The arrogance that drips from this statement is sad, not to mention ignorant.

First of all, one can send their children to private school or homeschool and have a perfect understanding of public education and still believe in a strong public education system -- and conversely, someone who does send their children or was educated in the public school system can have absolutely zero understanding of a quality public education system.

Second of all, as taxpayers who fund the public schools, we all have a right to have a say in how our tax dollars are applied to education and how our educational system functions, no matter whether we send our kids or even if we choose not to have children at all.

Of course, Gene Rardin wasn't even the worst case of this in the 2010 election cycle. In District 38, Democrat Roberta Eveslage occused Rep. Anthony Brown of the same thing -- of homeschooling his kids. The problem there? Anthony Brown does send his kids to public schools and always has -- in the Eudora Public Schools. She just outright lied.

The good news for Kansans?

In District 16, Amanda Grosserode crushed Gene Rardin 55% - 45%.
In District 38, Anthony Brown destroyed Eveslage 68% - 32%.

Thank heavens.

What's hilarious in this is that these Democrats like to call themselves "moderates", when the are truly "MINOs" -- moderates in name only. If Democrats have any hope of every having a prayer in Johnson County again, they'd better find some candidates who are truly moderates and not leftists who go after their opponents on how they educate their kids.

Until that happens, Democrats won't only have minority status, they will be a virtual non-factor in Kansas politics -- right now, they are holding onto just 1/4 of the Kansas House and Senate, which could have been even lower if not for several razor thin margins in several races.

Pretty soon, Democratic Caucus meetings will start occurring in closets.

Johnson County is Finally a Red County

November 2, 2010 brought historic victories for Republicans nationwide. From coast to coast, Republicans made impressive gains. These gains, outside of perhaps California, knew few boundaries or other demographic barriers. They won 64 new House seats (61 net, could raise as high as 70). They won 6 new Senate seats, which could be 7 -- and should have and could have been more. They won at least 11 new Governorships. They now control 55 of the 99 state legislative chambers. Hidden in the top line results is how close this red tidal wave came to being an absolute slaughter nationwide -- several Democrats barely survived challenges that could have driven the House number higher.

One place it was a slaughter was here in Kansas, where Republicans swept all of the statewide offices, which only one very liberal Republican (Sandy Praeger) held until Tuesday night. Those offices were replaced by conservatives -- ranging from Kris Kobach on the right to Derek Schmidt on the more moderate side, all of whom won by huge margins. In the Kansas House, Republicans picked up 16 conservative seats on Tuesday night, an amazing number when you consider Republicans already had 76 seats in a 125 seat body.

However, the one place where Republicans overall and conservatives specifically can absolutely rejoice is right here in Johnson County, where for the first time since conservatives arrived on the scene in 1992, the county finally became a truly red county. What makes this achievement truly remarkable is that in 2008, it appeared as though Johnson County might be turning hopelessly blue -- but what 2010 showed is that when good conservatives candidates step forward and have the courage to run and run on principle, good things will happen.

Make no mistake, some of the success was due in part to the national mood going against Democrats. But, as many have noted in opinion polls and as we have seen in some of the mixed results in Senate races, this isn't necessairly due to some embrace of Republicans. Yet, what we have seen in Kansas, and particularly Johnson County, is a recognition of the fact that Sebelius-era gains aside, Johnson County is a conservative county that will embrace conservative candidates.

What's truly remarkable is when you look into the details of the results. In the 2006 and 2008 election cycles, Democrats went from 1 seat in Johnson County to 6. Prior to entering the 2010 cycle, only 10 of the 22 House seats in Johnson County were held by people considered to be at least somewhat conservative. That number is now 16, the highest it has ever been proportion wise.

In the seats that we gained, the results were impressive -- in District 16, not held by a Republican since 2006 and not by a conservative since 2002, Amanda Grosserode won with 55% of the vote. In District 17, held by three liberal Republicans (one is now a democrat) since 1992, Kelly Meigs won in the primary and easily won in the general with 63% of the vote. In District 18, John Rubin absolutely destroyed Cindy Neighbor, who had been in and out of the seat since 2000 in a series of close races that went both directions. In District 19, previously held by liberal Phil Kline and then Democrat Delores Furtado, Jim Denning won with 56% of the vote. In District 23, which was lost in 2008 53-47, Brett Hildabrand flipped the result around. And in District 22, a seat not held by a Republican since 1996, Greg Smith won 51-49.

The amazing numbers don't end there. Jason Osterhaus, a conservative Republican, upended son-of-the-former-Congressman Larry Winn II in one of the greatest political upsets/stories in Johnson County political history, capturing the 4th County Commission District, currently occupied by Johnson County icon and former OP Mayor Ed Eilert. Jason, who defeated Winn, City Councilwoman (and wife of Senator Tim Owens) Donna Owens, and Chuck Vogt in the primary, didn't just squeak by either -- he won with 53% of the vote, largely on a strong grassroots campaign backed up by help from the conservative Kansas Governtment Reform PAC, which paid for mailers and autodials from conservative stalwarts Kris Kobach, Currie Myers, and Darla Jaye, among others.

It gets better.

Conservative incumbents across the county didn't do any worse than 60% -- Lance Kinzer earned 68% in District 14, up from 60 in 2008; Arlen Siegfreid earned 65% in District 15, up from 52 in 2008; Anthony Brown earned 68% in District 38, up from 57% in 2008; Owen Donohoe, who had a serious challenger who spent tens of thousands trying to defeat him, earned 62% in District 39, up from 52% in 2008. These are well known conservatives being completely embraced by the voters of Johnson County.

The conservative insurgency -- and the collapse of Democrats and liberal Republcanism -- is even more evident when you look at the county wide results in what where thought to be competitive "big" races.

Kevin Yoder, who ran on a conservative theme, turned NIck Jordan's 39% in 2008 to a 59% in 2010 in District 3 as a whole, and whopping 65% in Johnson County. No Republican had done better than 48% since 1998 and no county had even won Johnson County since 2002.. Yes, Stephene Moore was a terrible candidate, but make no mistake -- Yoder didn't win by being Jan Meyers -- he won by being a conservative in the mold of a Paul Ryan, and that's to his credit.

Kris Kobach, the so-called conservative 'lightning rod', pulled a 61% in his Secretary of State race, incredible given his 43% showing in 2004. What this showed is that the voters in Johnson County embraced his message and do care about immigration and voter fraud.

Sam Brownback, widely regarded as a strong social conservative, earned a 63% in Johnson County.

And completely blowing up the theory that more moderate Republicans make better statewide candidates or are somehow more appealing in Johnson County, Derek Schmidt, a right-leaning but still-somewhat moderate State Senator, was last among the statewide candidates, *only* pulling 56%.

The Johnson County Sun and Kansas City Star are unlikely to talk about these numbers in depth and what they mean, but the impact should not be minimized. The Democratic gains made in the 2000's are gone -- the Democrats, outside of lonely Mike Slattery in the 24th District -- are basically gone. Moderate Republicans are on life support, down to just five endangered (just ask Sheryl Spalding) House Reps and three State Senators in the state legislature -- clinging on to largely uncontested (outside of the County Commission and a few isolated seats) local races on city councils and school boards.

The moral of this story is that conservatives are without question on the asendancy and what could very well be on an unstoppable offensive. One or two new Senate seats and Four or five new House seats -- all in conservative growth areas -- will emerge in 2012, likely adding to these numbers. Conservatives challengers are likely to emerge in the remaining three Senate and six House seats held by moderates and liberals. The Osterhaus victory -- on the heels of the Distler and Tammy Thomas wins in Shawnee and De Soto -- will likely motivate conservatives to start focusing on local government, possibly starting this Spring.

What this will mean is a very deep bench, filled with quality representatives who will help market the conservative brand and fill seats up the political ladder when current elected officials move on. What this will means is a motivated Republican and conservative electorate. And, as it already probably is, it will most likely result in a complete loss of morale within the Democratic and RINO camps, who might soon recognize that their days are numbered and that the fight may soon be over.

Yes, Johnson County is finally a "red county" and is on its way to being a deeply red county.

So who gets the credit for this great surge of conservative success?

The immediate praise goes to those candidates who had the courage to step up and run -- Amanda Grosserode, Kelly Meigs, John Rubin, Jim Denning, Brett Hildabrand, Greg Smith, and Jason Osterhaus. Not only are each of these individuals praise-worthy for stepping forward to endure the hard work of a campaign, they are all truly political superstars, demonstrated by their impressive margins of victory and their absolute commitment to conservative principles. Even better, they are all first class people who Kansans will be very proud of.

In Grosserode's case, she helped found the Johnson County tea party movement and had the wisdom to turn that concern over her country into action, stepping forward to run herself in a critical district for conservatives to hold. Running seemingly non-stop from the day she got in the race, her Democratic opponent had no prayer from the start, despite spending tens of thousands spreading disinformation about Amanda. In the end, as we noted earlier, her hard work and commitment to the truth earned her 55%.

In Rubin's case, after an extremely narrow loss in 2008 which would have caused many candidates to punt and move on, he had the foresight to understand that a narrow loss in a Democratic year in 2008 meant a likely win in 2010, and win he did. John didn't rest on the laurels of a Republican wind, he walked his entire district on a solid conservative message and won with nearly 60% of the vote, an amazing margin given the history of the District.

In Meigs' case, she took on 18 years of history and the entire RINO establishment in a fearless manner, running one of the best organized campaigns in memory. She would not accept the conventional wisdom that District 17, simply because it had been held by Benlon, Sharp, and Quigley -- was off limits to conservatives. She ended that narrative completely, winning 54% in the primary and an impressive 63% in the general election.

The stories go on but the results are the same. Osterhaus had no money and defeated a Johnson County icon. Denning took his private sector experience and had the courage to serve. Smith's personal and inspirational story is well known to all.

Of course, these victories would not have been possible without the foundation of those who came before them. People like Lance Kinzer, Anthony Brown, Arlen Siegfreid, Owen Donohoe and others, who in just the past few years showed that you can be authentically conservative, run on principle, and consistently win. People like Mary Pilcher Cook, who despite a loss for the House in 2006 (and also in 2002), won 55% in a race for the Senate in 2010, laying the foundation in Nortwhest Johnson County for Meigs, Hildabrand, and Rubin. People like Joy Bourdess, who in 2008 ran an impressive race, though unsuccessfully, in District 22, creating a path for which Greg Smith could walk down two years later.

And, dating back to the 90's and early 2000's, we must not ever forget those like Kay O'Connor, John Toplikar, Phill Kline, Judy Morrison, Cliff Franklin, Tim Carmody and others who by their own courage then, founded the conservative movement in Johnson County that is enjoying widespread success in 2010.

It's hard to describe the 20 years of "fighting the good fight" and the depth to which conservatives have fought for a day like Tuesday. Yes, we had some wins, but we had some crushing losses too and sometimes seemingly insurmountable odds. Only limited success in statewide races. The media hitting us again and again, demonizing our candidates and making fun of our movement. Large numbers of liberals within our own party, rendering our large majorities meaningless. Winning seats only to lose them two years later. Yet, we kept fighting, never giving up, realizing that one day, the conservatives day would come, and now it has.

To be clear, this fight is not finished. There are still elections to be won and challenges ahead, and time will tell if the historic conservative surge of 2010 will last and translate into further victories down the road, whether they be at the local, state, or national level. And to be sure, many factors played into these impressive victories, including the national mood, the strength of the top of the ticket, and the overall weakness of our opposition. Moreover, the long term staying power of this new conservative reality in Johnson County will depend on a host of factors, including the records of those we just elected, the ability to create a sustainable and well organized grassroots movement, and the overall mood of the electorate.

However, it is the hunch of this blog is that it will indeed last. Never before has their been this much energy within our great conservative movement. And, if it does last, in ten years from now, much as we today remember the names of O'Connor and Kline and what they meant to our movement, let's always remember the names of Pilcher Cook, Kinzer, Brown, Grosserode, Smith, Meigs, Hildabrand, Rubin, Denning, and Osterhaus, and so many others who made Tuesday possible.