Friday, August 18, 2006

The Kansas Evolution Election: November vote is crucial, but moderate victories will be tough

Now that moderates have won a 6-4 majority on the state Board of Education, it will be difficult for them to solidfy long-term control of the board, a Washburn University political science professor says.

The victory by moderates came in the Aug. 1 primary -- an election that normally only picks candidates. However, voters in the primary assured the moderate takeover by taking two seats away from anti-evolution conservatives. Voters also gave the nomination to a moderate incumbent who does not face any challenge in the November election.

For more details on the primary, see In This Moment's coverage here.

However, to guarantee that the board doesn't swing back to the control of the Religious Right, moderate Democrats Jack Wempe and and Don Weiss have to defeat Republican anti-evolution incumbents John Bacon and Ken Willard.

Bob Beatty, who watches Kansas politics from the Topeka university, doesn't think defeating Bacon and Willard will be easy.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports:
"The national attention is certainly off, so that will not be as big of a campaign factor," Beatty said.

During the primaries, the challengers framed the debate as a board in crisis that needed to be "retaken," he said.

"Now it is retaken," he said, and it will be more difficult to drum up interest in the campaigns.
Cindy Duckett, a conservative activist from Wichita, told the Journal-World that "The pendulum will swing in two years."

Don Hineman of the Kansas Alliance for Education detailed his group's position.
The bipartisan alliance has targeted two races, endorsing Democrat Jack Wempe, of Lyons, against Willard and Democrat Don Weiss, of Olathe, against Bacon. The alliance will not get involved in election match-ups that pit Shaver against Democrat Charles Kent Runyan or Cauble against Democrat Tim Cruz because, Hineman said, whoever wins those races will provide a moderate perspective to the board.

In two years, Hineman said, five board seats, including three held by moderates, will be up for grabs, so he would like to pad what will be at least a 6-4 moderate majority in hopes a majority can be held through the 2008 election.

"Those seats will be challenged by the conservatives so we want to do what we can now to increase our numbers," Hineman said.
This, friends, is the challenge. The battle for education in Kansas won't be won until moderates can hold the board through, at least, two election cycles. That's why it's important to work for Wempe and Weiss.

1 comment:

Rick said...

What is Hineman worried about? Does he think the conservatives are going about to establish a church? And what churh will be established by conservative members of the Board of Education.

"Those seats will be challenged by the conservatives so we want to do what we can now to increase our numbers," Hineman said.

Mr. Hineman, it will not work. Eventually the conservatives will win back the seats on the Board in keeping with the majority of Kansans who, according to polls, want both creation and evolution taught.

Yes, moderate victories in the long run will be tough.