WHERE THINGS STAND IN KANSAS TODAY
Before 2018 the familiar refrain was “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”
After 2018 it’s become “Here’s Why Kansas Matters”.
The fact that we are talking about Kansas in 2020 at all tells us how much the political landscape has changed as it is one of the most traditionally conservative states in the nation.
In 2018 we made progress and flipped the Governor’s seat and Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, while coming thisclose to flipping Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District (more on that below).
Also in 2018 Democrats only flipped 1 seat in the State Senate and 0 seats in the State House…but just after the 2018 election, 1 Republican member of the State House and 2 Republican members of the State Senate switched parties to the Democrats.
REASON #1: FLIPPING THE KANSAS SENATE SEAT
The Kansas Senate seat is the main event. If we flip this seat, it will virtually guarantee a Democratic Majority in the United States Senate. Under normal circumstances, this would be difficult. But there are no ‘normal circumstances’ in 2020.
If she wins, Barbara Bollier would be the first Democratic to be elected a Senator in Kansas in almost *80 years*, the first woman to serve Kansas in the Senate in 24 years, and the first female Doctor in the Senate…ever.
Unfortunately our preferred nominee (Kris Kobach) did not get the Republican nomination. But the Republican nominee (Roger Marshall) has his own weaknesses. Barbara Bollier has 4X more cash-on-hand as Marshall does. And Mitch McConnell is now pumping money into this race. That tells us that it is still vulnerable for Republicans…and still flippable for Democrats.
REASON #2: ENDING THE REPUBLICAN STATE LEGISLATIVE SUPERMAJORITY
Ending the Republican Supermajorities in the Kansas State Legislature is vital because supermajorities can override the Democratic Governor’s veto. And that means that any Kansas redistricting efforts in 2021 could be solely controlled by the Republicans if we don’t strip them of their supermajorities in this 2020 election.
The Kansas State House has a Republican Supermajority leading the chamber 84-41. We need to get the Republicans down to a maximum of *82* seats in order to strip them of their supermajority status. All *125* seats are up for election. We must flip *2*. There are *17* flippable suburban State House districts in the suburbs of Kansas City and Wichita alone (Districts 14, 15, 17, 20, 26, 28, 38, 39, 40, 49, 78, 79, 85, 87, 97, 98, 121)
At the same time the Kansas State Senate also has a Republican Supermajority leading the chamber 29-11. We need to get the Republicans down to a maximum of *26* seats in order to strip them of their supermajority powers. All *40* seats are up for election…and won’t be up for election again until 2024. We must flip *3*. There are *5* flippable suburban State Senate districts in the suburbs of Kansas City and Wichita alone (Districts 5, 8, 10, 28, 30).
REASON #3: FLIPPING KANSAS’ 2ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District is currently represented by the indicted Steve Watkins. Rep. Watkins barely eked out a victory in 2018 under a cloud of controversy. Since then Watkins has actually been charged with multiple crimes, including voter fraud and lying to law enforcement. Even though Watkins lost his primary, the taint of his criminal activity could impact the Republican nominee in general, especially in a year like this where Republican corruption is so prolific.
Either way, we have a fantastic Democrat running for this seat in Michelle de la Isla. And if she wins, Democrats will control *2* of the state’s *4* Congressional Districts.
REASON #4: DEFENDING KANSAS’ 3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Of all of the 2018 bright spots, one of the brightest was electing Sharice Davids as the Representative for Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. Sharice was one of two women to be the first Native American women elected to Congress, and was the first LGBTQ+ Native American woman elected to Congress. She’s a trailblazer, and we have to have her back.
REASON #5: STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ELECTIONS
The Kansas State Board of Education is a 10-member panel responsible for managing the state’s public schools. The current make-up of the panel is 8 Republicans and 2 Democrats. Each member represents four contiguous State Senate Districts.
There are *5* State Board of Education elections this year. Democrats are only running in *3* of those 5. One is incumbent Ann Mah (District 4). The other two are challengers Melanie Haas (District 2) and Betty Arnold (District 8).
At best we can get up to 4 seats on the board this year. It won’t be a majority, but it would close the gap in advance of the next election in 2022.
REASON #6: STATE SUPREME COURT RETENTION ELECTION
One Democrat-appointed Kansas Supreme Court Justice is up for a Retention Election this year. Justice Eric Rosen will need to obtain over 50% of the vote in order to maintain his position on the Kansas State Supreme Court, a 7-member court with 5 Democrats and 2 Republicans. If Justice Rosen is not ‘retained’, a commission will provide Democratic Governor Laura Kelly with 3 names, one of which she must appoint. But Justice Rosen is considered to be one of the court’s more liberal members, so retaining him is the best option.
REASON #7: 6 ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES
Do we need them? Not really.
Can we get them? Probably Not.
Would it be awesome if it did? Hell yes.
Thank you for taking the time to read about why Kansas is so important this year.
Keep in mind that these are not the only reasons to Focus on Kansas in 2020. There will undoubtedly be a number of other local elections worth paying attention to as well.
If you’d like to help Focus on Kansas, please sign up HERE for the DemCast “Focus14” Kansas effort!
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