Sunday, August 7, 2016

What's not the matter with Kansas?

"Why Toto, is that the governor getting swept up in this thing?"
The Kansas Republican primary last week didn't get as much attention as it deserved, I think. And not just because of the defeat of Tea Party congressman Tim Huelskamp, after, as the Times was pointing out,

spending most of his six years in Washington feuding with his own leaders. He was so difficult to work with and troublesome that he was kicked off the Agriculture Committee.
Kansas voters like representatives who are good at working with the Agriculture Committee! So the pattern Thomas Frank was complaining back was complaining about in 2004 is over? They've decided to start voting in favor of their own economic interests?

Not necessarily; Huelskamp's victorious opponent, obstetrician and political newcomer Roger Marshall, comes with the backing of the Ending Spending Action superPAC, founded by Joe Ricketts of TD Ameritrade, and though it calls for legislators to stop grandstanding and start doing something, the something it wants them to do is government-shrinking through budget balancing. (Huelskamp had the Club for Growth and the Kochs, Marshall had the US Chambers of Commerce.)

The really interesting development was in the state legislature primaries, though, for which there's a final report in The Atlantic:
Moderate Republican candidates ousted 14 conservative state legislators allied with the governor in primary elections across the state, while anti-Brownback contenders won nominations for open seats in another seven races. The results were widely seen as a repudiation of a second-term governor whose popularity has plummeted amid sustained budget gaps and ensuing sharp cuts in state spending. And they likely mean that the staunchly conservative state legislature in Topeka will move back toward the center in 2017, increasing the chances that lawmakers could roll back deep income-tax cuts that Brownback successfully enacted in his first years in office.
That really counts as a vote against the supply-side Republican orthodoxy and Brownback's colossal economic mismanagement, which has left the state unable to pay its bills and cutting the programs people care about (schools, roads, jobs). And apparently, according to the Times report, a vote for Republicans who think they can find something in common with local Democrats. It's as if they really want to try having some government again. And besides, it's Kansas!

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.

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