Note: Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their authors and not necessarily those of Penn Dems as an organization.
The reliably red state of Kansas looks increasingly less reliable this election cycle. While the state hasn’t elected a Democratic US Senator since 1932, this year it seems that GOP incumbents across the board are facing strong challenges as Kansans are coming to their senses and showing their discontent with the far-right.
In 2012, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback referred to his sweeping tax cuts as a “real-live experiment.” Unfortunately, his conservative experiment has failed miserably; the state’s bond rating received a downgrade, job growth lags far behind the rest of the nation, and there is a predicted state revenue shortfall of $330 million. The governor’s abysmal performance was even noted recently by “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” in a segment titled “Laboratories of Fiscal Disaster.” Furthermore, many members of Brownback’s own party have noticed a problem, and the Republicans for Kansas Values—a group of more than 100 former elected GOP officials—have endorsed Brownback’s Democratic challenger Paul Davis, the current state senate minority leader.
Current Republican Senator Pat Roberts is also familiar with attacks from GOP members. During the primary election, Roberts’ Tea Party opponent Milton Wolfe questioned Roberts’ residency in Kansas. While the courts eventually dismissed this challenge, another report has noted his absence not from the state that he represents, but from his job in Washington. Roberts has barely attended one-third of the Senate Agriculture Committee meetings, which is preposterous for a representative from Kansas.
After experiencing a close primary, Roberts is facing even tougher competition from the independent candidate Greg Orman. The Democratic candidate, Chad Taylor, has dropped out of the senate race (though not without drama—Secretary of State Kris Kobach tried and failed to keep Taylor’s name on the ballot, presumably to split up Democrats’ votes). This election has received national attention, as it could potentially decide who controls the Senate.
There also are two strong Democrats running for the U.S. House. Margie Wakefield and Kelly Kultala are both showing promise in their districts. Although they are underfunded relative to their opponents, the Democrats continue to gain steam. Both Wakefield and Kultala also recently received an endorsement from EMILY’s List, an influential political group who supports pro-choice democratic women.
Although all of these races appear hopeful for Democrats watching across the nation, they remain incredibly close. Over the next few weeks, Democratic candidates will continue to focus on common sense and moderation, while the GOP blows up social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. But there is still a reasonable possibility that come November, Kansas will again be reliably red. There are so many close races in this state, and only Election Day will show which way Kansas will flip.