In Kansas Primaries Yesterday, The Kochs Lost. Badly. by

From The Daily Kos

The Kansas primaries yesterday taught us a great many things, but one lesson that we learned is that large money spending in races by Koch backed Americans for Prosperity and Kris Kobach backed Prairie Fire PACs backfired.

I’ll talk about the results in many races, but I want to highlight a few:

Kansas House District 122

R-J. Russell “Russ” Jennings     1,475     65%
R-Stan Rice     802     35%

Kansas House District 9

R-Kent L. Thompson     1,505     60%
R-Chad E. VanHouden     1,005     40%

Kansas House District 21

R-Barbara Bollier     1,777     59%
R-Neil Melton     1,215     41%

Kansas House District 19

R-Stephanie Clayton     2,322     68%
R-Jennifer Flood     1,107     32%

These numbers out of these Republican state Primaries should put a smile on the face of every moderate to progressive in Kansas and send a giant red flag up to the Kochs.  Why?

The Republican primary has long been the deciding ground for many races within Kansas.  In 2012, unhappy with the level of moderates in the Kansas Republican Party, Sam Brownback engaged in an effort to sweep them out by running primary opponents against them who would be lock step with his issues.   This campaign against moderates was largely successful, and we ended up with the current slate in the Kansas Statehouse.

Last night, however, the same tactic failed miserably.

Kris Kobach spent significantly in mail pieces and an ad campaign against Thompson and Russ Jennings.   He did so on the back of a single issue:  Kobach wanted Turn Gay Away legislation and they voted no.

But Kobach and Chamber of Commerce spending was all for naught, as the moderate Republican walked right through.    The real story of the night came out of Johnson County proper, where Stephanie Clayton – a moderate Republican who has been under fire, whipped her opponent, a hand picked Koch candidate who stood with them and against Stephanie on significant issues like Renewable Energy, education, etc.

Clayton faced a high money campaign against her, with mailpieces from Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity and door knocking campaigns going on to oust her from office.

What happened?   Clayton walked away with 68% of the vote in a clear rebuke of all the money spent.   Clayton couldn’t match AfP or Chamber in dollars, but her performance at the League of Women Voters and her ability to reach out to her constituents and explain the issues proved to be the ultimate trump card – and despite the big money spend, she was never in any real trouble it seems.

This is a huge rebuke of the way Koch, AfP and the Chamber of Commerce have done business in Kansas.

Numerous races in Kansas last night went much farther than they should have, and resulted in some odd moments.

Sam Brownback, facing a significant protest vote was ON VIDEO declaring that the reason why Pro-Pot Jennifer Winn garnered so much of the vote was because of Obama.  That’s right.   Obama caused people to vote for Jennifer Winn.

In Western Kansas, Tim Huelskamp went down to the wire, giving up 47% of the vote to “Not Tim Huelskamp” LaPolice in a primary.   People have written off District 1, but the momentum behind “Not Huelskamp” is in fact pretty real.   The question is, can Democrats capitalize on that?   We’re going to have to find out.

Margie Wakefield Had to have a wry smile as Lynn Jenkins found herself with a protest vote that also went over 20% – what makes that troubling for Lynn Jenkins is that Jenkins spent significant money in the last few weeks going up with ad buys in the Pittsburg/Joplin area and out of Topeka.   This was not an expected result, as most felt that Jenkins wouldn’t be sullied by the Brownback problem as part of the Republican leadership and unconnected with the Huelskamp fiasco, but she also couldn’t escape getting hit with some of the debris.

The one dark spot  For all the good news, there was one race in Kansas that had a pretty troubling result.  Kansas House District 30, Olathe Kansas had a potentially scary result in that Randy Powell, anti-choice, anti-gay minister managed to be one of the very few tea conservatives who cleared through the primary.   He’s in a district that is fairly divided and where a Democrat last ran with a micro-campaign netted 47% of the vote.

Randy Powell is one of those candidates that has a real shot to cause real damage in the state house, and Liz Dickinson’s campaign becomes much more important for Democrats to win and overturn.   Powell, who is openly committed to re-advancing Turn Gay Away legislation and ‘anything’ that can stop choice, birth control, etc. makes for a dangerous potential candidate.   The upside is that he won a divided Republican primary where the moderates split away and left him a thin margin win.

It is now pretty important that Democrats actually commit to helping Liz Dickinson win if we want to not just flip a house seat but we have a desire for sanity.

 

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