Welcome to “Campaign Briefing”
(Salon) Kansas Republicans evolve into Democrats: Moderates and social conservatives have been battling for the soul of the Kansas GOP since 1994, when the conservatives first won control of the party machinery. Although registered Republicans outnumber Democrats 2 to 1, Kathleen Sebelius is about to exploit that ideological schism to win a second term by a comfortable margin. In 2002, she beat a conservative Republican nominee by appealing to voters who care more about schools and taxes than abortion and evolution -- and by recruiting a centrist Republican to run as her lieutenant governor. Four years later, Sebelius has again tapped a moderate Republican as her running mate, and this time eight other party-switchers will join her on the Democratic ticket. Depending on whom you believe, in her cross-the-aisle raids Sebelius has either found an effective strategy for turning Kansas a little less red, or she has used her personal popularity to mask the slow decline of her party.
(Wichita Eagle) Minor party candidates miffed at debate snub: Two minor-party Wichita candidates for governor are upset that they won't be allowed to participate in upcoming candidate forums. Richard Ranzau, Reform Party candidate, and Carl Kramer, Libertarian Party candidate, claim their exclusion stifles the flow of ideas and public discourse. The major-party candidates, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Republican state Sen. Jim Barnett, have four debates scheduled, starting with Saturday's appearance at the Kansas State Fair. A fifth debate is in the works.
(From Washburn University professor Bob Beatty) First Sebelius-Barnett poll since primary shows Sebelius up by 11: Sebelius' 11 point lead represents what is now a fairly (and strikingly) consistent 8-13 point lead over Barnett in RR polls taken since January. This lead has remained consistent through the legislative session, the GOP primary, Barnett's victory, and Sebelius' first three TV ad campaigns ("Respect," "Clips" and the now famous ad of the Governor driving a school bus). The poll can be found at www.rasmussenreports.com.
(AP) Kline and Morrison locked in battle for attorney general: With both attorney general candidates busy talking tough on crime, Republican incumbent Phill Kline's anti-abortion politics and Democrat Paul Morrison's party switching have become issues that can't be ignored. Kline has been criticized for trying to get access to information in patient records at two abortion clinics. He's been lionized by his fellow abortion opponents, but he's been accused of pursuing a narrow, ideological agenda. Meanwhile, Morrison has been branded an opportunist for abandoning his fellow moderate Republicans and seeking the Democratic nomination as a better platform for unseating Kline. Activists in both parties consider the attorney general's race to be the contest most worth watching before the Nov. 7 general election.
3rd District Congress
(Kansas Public Radio) Ahner takes on Moore: This year's race in the 3rd Congressional District of Kansas features a relative newcomer to politics who is going up against a three-term incumbent. Republican Chuck Ahner is a graduate of West Point and spent 10 years in the military before going into private business. He won a four-way primary in August for the right to challenge Democratic Congressman Dennis Moore in the district that covers Johnson, Wyandotte and part of Douglas counties. Kansas Public Radio's Peter Hancock recently spoke with Ahner and asked him why he thinks he should be elected to Congress.
Other election news
(LJW) Voters on defense: Project Vote Smart, a nonpartisan research library, is offering for free its 2006 Voter Self-Defense manual, which provides information on candidates in Kansas seeking public office.
(KC Star) Election alerts aimed at youth: Launched about three months ago, the service allows voters to receive electronic notices of election dates, advance voting and polling place changes on their computer, cell phone, iPod or other communication device. The effort recently garnered Newby a best-practices award from the National Association of Election Officials in Houston. "It targets a group of people who don't normally vote," said Janis Womack, who heads the nonprofit organization's awards committee. "Two years from now we'll see if it increases voter turnout."