By Diane Silver
When I first moved to Kansas, I thought primary elections were a total bore. After all, the only thing a primary does is nominate party candidates. The real election is in November, right?
Very wrong, at least when it comes to Kansas. We are, after all, a scarlet state. The Republican Party registers twice as many voters as the Democratic Party does. Often the candidate who wins the Republican primary is the candidate who wins in November, even if he or she faces a Democratic opponent.
This year's election in Kansas is more interesting and important than most. With the primary less than a month away -- and preliminary voting starting July 12 -- it is time to pay attention.
Amidst all the other offices we are deciding this year, we are also voting in what I'm calling the Evolution Election.
What happens in the Nov. 7 election will change what our children face in school. Because of the Republican majority in Kansas, the entire election, and our children's future, could well be decided in less than a month in the Aug. 1 primary.
Will they be taught a solid science curriculum or indoctrinated into the ideas of one, narrow branch of Christianity? Will sex education be taught? Will public schools be funded, or will taxpayer money to funneled into private schools? Will competent staff be hired in the state Department of Education, or will inexperienced ideologues like Bob Corkins be given the job of running the state school system?
At issue are five seats on the 10-seat Kansas Board of Education. Four of them are currently held by Republicans who pushed the anti-evolution, anti-sex-education agenda of the radical religious right. One is held by a moderate Republican who tried to fight back.
Three moderates on the board do not face election this year. This means that if moderate Janet Waugh of Kansas City can retain her seat and only two of the incumbent radicals can be defeated, we can bring sanity back to education in Kansas.
Because primary elections are so important in Kansas, it is time to get involved. Donate to a moderate candidate. Volunteer to call voters or to canvas. And at the very least, educate yourself about your district race and get ready to VOTE.
The MAINstream Coalition is already bringing in volunteers to work on the campaign. Kansas Families United for Public Education and the Kansas Alliance for Education are working for moderates and can help connect you with campaigns.
The best blogger coverage of the campaign is from Red State Rabble.
Quick Evolution Election Cheat Sheet
The Anti-Evolution Radicals are:
District 3 - Incumbent John Bacon
District 5 - Incumbent Connie Morris
District 7 - Incumbent Ken Willard
District 9 - Incumbent Iris Van Meter decided not to run again. In her place is her son-in-law, Brad Patzer, who is expected to carry on her agenda.
Moderate Republican Janet Waugh of District 1 in Kansas City is also up for election.