As Democrats and moderate Republicans spend precious money and time battling each other in several legislative races in Johnson County, here’s an ugly reality.
At least eight of Gov. Sam Brownback’s incumbent GOP allies are almost 100 percent assured of claiming victory over weak Democratic opponents on Nov. 8 in the county. That’s eight out of 33 total House and Senate seats up for grabs.
No matter how unpopular Brownback is, these often anti-education and anti-reality incumbents are going to win. Call it the “Olathe firewall” for where several of these GOP candidates hail from.
More bad news: Up to eight more GOP extremists could defeat stronger Democratic foes on Tuesday. For the record, I hope that doesn’t happen.
Ugh. That could mean 16 victories for the ultra-con incumbents — or just under half of the 33 seats in supposedly progressive Johnson County. Plus, a few other conservative newcomers are running for open legislative seats in the county.
Lots of Kansans aren’t paying attention to these dismal facts. Instead, they are focused on the more upbeat narrative that Democrats and moderate Republicans are “taking back” the Legislature from Brownback’s backers in the general election.
That is partly true, as I have outlined for the Senate and for the House in recent weeks. And don’t forget that moderate Republicans fortunately ousted a half-dozen GOP extremists in the August primaries in the county.
What could happen next Tuesday?
In the Kansas Senate, one conservative GOP incumbent from Johnson County is a nearly assured winner: Molly Baumgardner in the 37th District over Democrat Kevin King.
And the news could get even worse for Kansans wanting a return to sensible government in Topeka.
Sen. Jim Denning could beat Don McGuire in the 8th District. Julia Lynn could defeat Chris Morrow in the 9th District. Mary Pilcher-Cook could triumph over Vicki Hiatt in the 10th District. And Rob Olson could beat Spencer Kerfoot in the 23rd District.
Now check out the Kansas House regarding Johnson County candidates.
At least seven GOP incumbents are almost assured victory over nominal Democratic opposition. They are Randy Powell vs. Darla Graham in the 30th District; Willie Dove vs. Mike Fonkert and Frederick Caleb Cristopher in the 38th District; Bill Sutton is unopposed in the 43rd District; Marvin Kleeb vs. Sandy Ackerson in the 48th District; Scott Schwab vs. Darnell Hunt in the 49th District; Ron Ryckman vs. Jason Darby in the 78th District; and Mike Kiergerl vs. Jason Graff in the 121st District.
In the it-could-get-really-bad category, Republican Keith Esau could defeat Democrat Merlin Ring in the 14th District; Erin Davis could get by R. Paul McCorkle in the 15th District; Amanda Grosserode could beat Cindy Holscher in the 16th District; and James Eric Todd could get by Brett Parker in the 29th District.
Voters get to make the final call. They have good reasons to choose the stronger Democratic candidates in some or all of the eight races where the Democrats stand a better chance to beat the GOP incumbents. And then we should pray for a huge upset or two even against the heavily favored GOP extremists.