To be precise, 316 ultra-conservative Republicans stuck their fingers in the eyes of 65 percent of Johnson County voters when they elected ousted Attorney General Phill Kline as the county's new district attorney.
Last night's vote by the county Republican committee sets up newly minted Democrat Paul Morrison and Kline to swap jobs. The current Johnson County district attorney, Morrison beat Kline in a landslide in November to win the office of attorney general. In Johnson County, Kansas' most populous county, 65 percent voted to boot Kline from office.
To gage the depth of the anger, even among Republicans, please note that the finger-in-the-eye quote doesn't come from me, but from Andy Wollen. AP reports:
Andy Wollen, chairman of the moderate Kansas Traditional Republican Majority, said GOP conservatives had "stuck a finger in the eye of Johnson County voters."Taking the issue of abortion and the culture war out of the discussion for the moment, Kline's victory is a clear sign that Kansas needs to change the way it fills open seats. Instead of allowing a party committee to fill the seat, isn't it time to bring a little democracy to the situation and begin holding special elections?
"The voters sent a clear message to Phill Kline -- 'you're fired,'" Wollen said after Monday night's balloting.
There are some jobs in government that, honestly, don't make much difference in people's lives. If you don't believe that, think about the last time you knew of a lieutenant governor who had an impact on your life.
But being a county district attorney isn't one of those. DAs are an important part of the law enforcement team. To put someone with no experience as a prosecutor and little to no experience in criminal law in that prosition is ridiculous.
AP reports the Kline will probably bring his team from the attorney general office with him. That means displacing the proven professionals Morrison has put in place. That can't be a good sign for the county.
AP also gives us an interesting quote from Morrison. It shows that the state's new attorney general understands something Kline may never get: Some things are beyond politics.
Morrison said he was "deeply disappointed" by the vote. But he pledged a smooth transition for Kline into the county office, saying, "public safety should be above politics."The Kansas City Star has a good look at the vote and the politics of it.