Dare I say it? Could we be watching the beginning of a political sea change? That phrase paints a picture of a cataclysmic transformation, and right now, folks, out here on the drought - plagued Great Plains such a wave might well be building.
And I do apologize for badly mixing my metaphors of tidal waves and coffins, but there is something wild and out of control about this moment in Kansas politics.
To the point...
When it comes to elections, it's never wise to declare victory before the votes are counted. I agree with Molly Ivins that we have a long way to go to Nov. 7. But in more than 20 years of watching and participating in Kansas politics, I never in my wildest dreams expected to see something like today's events.
On this sunny Friday, a former Republican attorney general, in this most Republican state of all, held a news conference to slam her Republican successor and endorse his Democratic opponent. This makes the second very Republican, former attorney general to attack Kline in one week.
Carla Stovall (Steckline), who held the attorney general's office from 1995 to 2002, attacked the current occupant of that post, Republican Phill Kline. Stovall told reporters she was endorsing Democrat Paul Morrison because "I care about the reputation of the office."
Stovall pointed to Morrison's "stellar record" of convicting criminals and noted that "the person is more important than the party."
The Wichita Eagle blog did the best job of capturing the emotion of the moment.
A visibly angry Stovall then proceeded to blast Kline on everything from his hiring of his legally challenged nephew as chauffeur (she said that neither she nor her predecessor, Bob Stephan, felt they were "important enough" to need drivers) to Kline's fishing expeditions of abortion records (showing his willingness to "violate privacy rights of Kansans to pursue a narrow personal agenda") to Kline's labeling of Senate Bill 323 as "Paul's policy" ("absolutely untrue") to the use of out-of-state attack ads ("despicable").What makes Stovall's action even more incredible is its timing. It comes after her predecessor, Republican Bob Stephan, announced that he had recently quit his job as a special assistant to Kline. Stephan told reporters he had serious questions about the ethical nature of Kline's fundraising activities in churches.
Stephan did not come out and endorse Morrison, but there seems little doubt about who Stephan will support in the voting booth.
The Topeka Capital-Journal was so breathless about the open warfare between moderate Republicans and Kline -- the darling of the Religious Right -- that it left Morrison right out of it's headline -- "Ex-AG Stovall Endorses Kline's Opponent."
You do have to wonder. If the GOP can't hold itself together in Kansas, can it do so anywhere in the country?
Whatever today's events ultimately mean for the Republican Party in Kansas and in the nation one thing seems clear: If Kline happens to notice a tall guy in a black suit following him around with a measuring tape, our not-so-beloved attorney general might just want to run.