Let’s get right to it. Here are the best candidates for the most hotly contested Kansas Senate seats in Johnson County for the Nov. 8 election.
7th District: Barbara Bollier (Republican) over Megan England (Democrat)
8th District: Don McGuire (Democrat) over incumbent Jim Denning (Republican)
9th District: Chris Morrow (Democrat) over incumbent Julia Lynn (Republican)
10th District: Vicki Hiatt (Democrat) over incumbent Mary Pilcher-Cook (Republican)
11th District: John Skubal (Republican) over Skip Fannen (Democrat)
21st District: Dinah Sykes (Republican) over Logan Heley (Democrat) and Michael Kerner (Libertarian)
23rd District: Spencer Kerfoot (Democrat) over incumbent Rob Olson (Republican)
Why these endorsements? Read on.
Two basic issues are at the core of how Johnson Countians in both parties are voting this fall, starting with early in-person voting Oct. 24. (I saw 10 of these Senate candidates speak at a League of Women Voters forum Sunday afternoon in Johnson County.)
1. Kansans need lawmakers who will oppose bad policies put forward by Gov. Sam Brownback and, by extension, fight for good ones that include repealing some or all of Brownback’s reckless 2012 income tax cuts. The absolute top goal is to better finance public education, the cornerstone of Johnson County’s growth in population and economic development the last five decades. Other goals include expanding Medicaid and improving social service programs that are rotting under the Brownback administration.
2. Kansans need to elect people who have some solid experience — either in the Legislature or in their personal and professional lives — to show they are ready for the rough-and-tumble world of the Kansas Legislature.
Obviously, all seven Democrats in the above races qualify under Part 1: They properly aren’t fans of Brownback. They state that early and often on the campaign trail, hoping it will be a winning strategy with voters aware of how the extremely unpopular governor has ruined the state the last six years.
McGuire, Morrow, Hiatt and Kerfoot get extra points because they are squaring off against incumbent allies of Brownback. Those pro-Brownback votes in the Legislature need to be shown the door — especially Denning. He has been a big backer of Brownback’s education policies as well as on other issues except when it’s time for his re-election. Voters shouldn’t be fooled: McGuire is by far the better choice.
None of the Democrats is an incumbent, so there’s no long political record to check.
Here’s why I endorse Republicans Bollier, Skubal and Sykes over their Democratic opponents.
All three of these GOP candidates fit both Parts 1 and 2.
Bollier — as a state representative — has not been a Brownback collaborator in the Legislature, and has a pro-education voting record.
Skubal defeated a Brownback follower (Jeff Melcher) in the Aug. 2 primary and has years of solid experience on the Overland Park City Council.
Sykes also beat a Brownback supporter (Greg Smith) in the primary. She has children in public schools. She has been active in the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce and as a Rotary member. She has a college degree in economics and finance.
This last race — featuring Sykes vs. Heley — has received more attention in recent days because of some negative events surrounding the campaign. I plan to write a more specific blog post on it in the coming days.
Speaking of the future: “Here are best Kansas House candidates in Johnson County” is planned for publication sometime Monday evening.