Monday, October 30, 2006

Kansas: Phill Kline sows the seeds of defeat

By Diane Silver

A longtime darling of the Religious Right -- Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline -- may unwittingly have created a roadmap to victory for his opposition.

The highway to victory is named decency.

And, the key to success for moderates and progressives is to realize that the Religious Right can't win without the support of moderate Republicans. Without the collusion of moderates, there simply aren't enough rightwing voters to carry an election, even in Kansas.

I started thinking about this while reading AP Statehouse Bureau Chief John Hanna's interesting analysis of the campaign that has pitted Kline against Democrat Paul Morrison.

Hanna paints a picture of moderate GOP leaders who are appalled by the nastiness and lack of integrity in the campaign Kline has run. These moderate Republicans are wondering if basic human decency trumps party loyalty.

The one thing Hanna rather bafflingly misses is the fact that disgust with Kline has already lead many Republicans to endorse Morrison.

These Republicans include former Attorney General Bob Stephan who quit his job in Kline's office and blew the whistle on the details of Kline's church fundraising. Former Attorney General Carla Stovall has endorsed Morrison. Even state government's other Phil Kline, old "One L Classic Kline," a retired legislative leader endorsed Morrison last week.

Hanna writes:
Now moderate Republicans can't keep state government's second most important elective office in GOP hands unless they reward a candidate who has run the roughest campaign Kansas has seen in at least a generation. It raises a natural question: Will a Kline victory encourage more of the same?

"As far as moderate Republicans, I do not think they approve of this kind of campaigning," said Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, chairman of his chamber's powerful budget committee. "I don't think this belonged anywhere in this political process."


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this analysis. I watched the Big Phil, Little Phill confusion for ten years and always felt Big Phil would have been right to step on the cockroach.

Perhaps the election on the 7th will prove once again that, given a chance, Kansans will get rid of the worst elected officials we have. Linda Holloway, Connie Morris and Karen DiVita only lasted one term and were replaced. Little Phill will finally get his.

Diane Silver said...

Thanks for your comment.

As I've thought about this recently, I've realized how worried I am about a Kline victory.

I'm not just worried that Kline might win, and that we'd have four more years of him. I'm also worried that a victory by Kline will lead other politicians to use his kind of underhanded campaigning. If that happens, then what we have seen this year on the campaign trail may be nothing compared to what we'll see in the next election.

I hope you're right that Kline will be defeated.

Again, thanks for commenting. And yes, I do waffle between optimism and total, abject fear of defeat.