100 Kansas GOP Endorse Democrat for Governor
TOPEKA, Kan. -- Democratic challenger Paul Davis sought Tuesday to give his campaign for Kansas governor a bipartisan boost by announcing endorsements from more than 100 moderate Republicans who've split with conservative GOP Gov. Sam Brownback over education and tax policy.
The disaffected Republicans include outgoing Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, three former Kansas Senate presidents and three former Kansas House speakers. More than half are former legislators, and the list includes former U.S. Rep. Jan Meyers, who represented the Kansas City-area 3rd District from 1985 to 1997.
They announced that they formed Republicans for Kansas Values because of their concerns about the aggressive personal income tax cuts enacted at Brownback's urging. They called the reductions a reckless fiscal experiment and suggested Brownback's administration has been hostile to public education.
Davis' campaign staged a news conference at a Topeka hotel with 40 of the disaffected Republicans so that the bipartisan tone would draw a sharp contrast with rallies Brownback's re-election campaign had on Monday in Olathe and Wichita. Those events featured former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a favorite of Republicans opposing abortion and gay marriage, and were designed to energize the governor's core, conservative supporters.
"This election should not be about electing a Republican or electing a Democrat, but it should be about electing a moderate, common sense Kansan as governor," said Dick Bond, of Overland Park, who served as Senate president from 1997 to 2001.
Brownback is facing a tougher-than-expected re-election race in GOP-leaning Kansas after winning the governor's office in 2010 with 63 percent of the vote. Davis needs to attract support from moderate Republicans and unaffiliated voters to defeat the incumbent, because Republicans hold a significant advantage in voter registration.
The Kansas Republican Party portrayed the group of Republicans backing Davis as an old political guard that held a "big government" philosophy voters rejected in electing Brownback governor in 2010.
Six state senators on the list lost their seats in 2012 primaries to Brownback-favored candidates, including former Senate President Steve Morris, of Hugoton. Many of the former lawmakers have been out of office for at least a decade.