UPDATED NOV. 9: Only two did win. They were House candidates Cindy Holscher and Brett Parker.
Suddenly in 2016, Democratic candidates in Johnson County have a huge opportunity to send a loud, clear message that Gov. Sam Brownback’s extremist Republican legislative allies aren’t needed anymore in Topeka.
I have picked out eight contested races in which voters could elect Democrats and send Brownback’s GOP allies packing this fall in Kansas House and Senate races.
That admittedly will be tough. Most of the Democrats are underdogs, often even according to other Democrats. That means they will need the support of voters from their already-outgunned party in Johnson County as well as from independents and — yes — even moderate Republicans.
(Moderate Republican candidates in other legislative races in Johnson County also will have a lot to say about reducing Brownback’s ability to harm Kansas in the future. I’ll outline those races in another post.)
It’s encouraging in the last few weeks that much of the talk in the county — in political fliers and in face-to-face conversations by candidates with voters — has focused on the need for change in Topeka.
Some of the best ways to make that change occur are to elect Democrats who will revamp state tax policies to make them fairer and support expansion of social programs, not further retrenchment. Elect candidates who could help reverse some dumb decisions made by the Legislature on topics ranging from carrying guns on campus to restrictive property tax lids.
After talking to a range of people in both parties, I have rated each race for the Democratic candidate as “should win,” “tossup” or “uphill battle” against their Republican incumbent opponent.
8th District: Don McGuire over Jim Denning. Toss-up. A McGuire victory would be a huge pick-up for Democrats and get rid of a guy who’s trying to fool voters into thinking he’s an agent of change.
9th District: Chris Morrow over Julia Lynn. Toss-up. Voters should defeat a GOP candidates who seems to think Brownback’s programs are working.
10th District: Vicki Hiatt over Mary Pilcher-Cook. Should win. Hiatt needs to campaign hard to keep riding the wave of dissatisfaction with Pilcher-Cook all the way to Nov. 8.
23rd District: Spencer Kerfoot over Rob Olson. Uphill battle. Kerfoot in particular could be helped by the Stand Up Blue Valley endorsement in this race.
14th District: Merlin Ring over Keith Esau. Uphill battle.
15th District: R. Paul McCorkle over Erin Davis. Uphill battle.
16th District: Cindy Holscher over Amanda Grosserode. Should win. Holscher gets rave reviews from political observers in both parties.
29th District: Brett Parker over James Eric Todd. Toss-up. Parker is another impressive candidate who deserves to win. He then could be a strong voice for positive moves in Topeka starting in 2017.
I know: That’s only two “should wins” in the bunch, with three “toss-ups” and three “uphill battles.”
Guess what? Voters make the final decisions in these races, not a guy with a possibly cloudy crystal ball.