Kansans can go to their county clerks’ offices today through noon on the Monday before the election and cast an early ballot. Then you don’t have to worry about whether you can make it to the polls on election day.
You can still register to vote until the 23rd.
Before you head out to vote, be sure you know who your candidates are for state Legislature. The entire House is up for election, and electing candidates who will stand by the state’s commitment to fund schools adequately, to roll back the maintenance backlog at the college and university level of the state educational system. Be sure you know which candidates will spend time on issues like aquifer maintenance, and which will waste time fighting cultural battles. I’m big on incumbents Barbara Ballard, Paul Davis and Tom Holland in the Lawrence area.
My preferences regarding Board of Ed. races are no surprise: vote for Don Weiss or Jack Wempe if you are in those districts. They are opposing the two creationists up for re-election. Both have experience in education, government and business, and it would frankly be difficult to imagine endorsing anyone else in those races, even if the opponent weren’t a creationist. I’d probably vote for Kent Runyan if I lived in his district, though Jana Shaver is certainly well-qualified. Both have taught and administered schools, but I think Runyan’s experience as a teacher of teachers gives him an edge, and that he has more to offer the Board. I think Sally Cauble’s background gives her the edge in her race against Tim Cruz, though both are well-qualified. Cauble is a teacher, while Cruz’s background in education policy is more limited. I also think Cauble will be better able to hold that seat in 4 years, against Connie Morris should she run again, or against whatever Connie clone the KRA dredges up. These latter races are the rare opportunity to choose between two excellent and qualified candidates, and not just to hold your nose in the polling booth.
Statewide, my preferences for Governor Sebelius and Paul Morrison for AG are also no secret. The governor has won acclaim nationwide for her ability to balance the budget without raising taxes. She’s managed to steer clear of the pettiness that tends to characterize so much of politics, and I think she’ll do great things with another 4 years. Paul Morrison’s experience in state law enforcement exceeds what Phill Kline could hope to have, and his campaign theme, that we should have a legal professional, rather than a politician, serving as the state’s head lawyer, rings true. Kline’s fishing expeditions into private medical records, his violations of judicial gag orders in that case, his illegal meetings with the creationist Board of Education and the offer to defend them if they put warning labels on science textbooks, his use of the office of Attorney General to advance his own narrow political aims, all are enough to disqualify him. We are fortunate in this election not to have to choose between the lesser of two evils, though. Morrison is the real deal.
The other statewide races are almost sure to be won by the Republican incumbents, and I see no reason why they shouldn’t. Ron Thornburgh is well-respected for his administration of the Secretary of State’s office, Sandy Praeger’s work as Insurance Commissioner has been praised widely, and there’s a case to be made that no news is good news from the Treasurer’s office.
I could not, in good conscience, endorse any of the Republican candidates for the House of Representatives. Even those members, like Moran, who are fairly inoffensive, even voting against the torture bill, cast the vital vote over whether to allow the corrupt House Republican leadership to set our national agenda. The Democrats running against Moran in western Kansas and Tiahrt in Wichita are running fairly quixotic campaigns, but there’s something to be said for registering your discontent. I’ve met John Doll, Moran’s opponent, and found him to be a genuinely nice guy who would honestly make a great addition to Congress, or to statewide politics.
Dennis Moore has cast votes that I disagreed about. His support for CAFTA, the Bankruptcy Bill, torture, and invading Iraq were all poor choices. But I’ve talked with him enough to know that he doesn’t adopt positions from pure expedience nor for reasons of partisanship. Indeed those votes are probably a consequence of taking a desire to find a middle ground too far, given the partisan climate of this Congress. I know I’ll grumble about some choices he’s made, but I won’t have any hesitation when I vote for him.
Jim Ryun’s inadequacies as a Congressman alone are enough to win Nancy Boyda my full-blown support. I have questions about the issues she’s chosen to make central to her campaign, and I know that there are lingering feelings about her campaign two years ago, a campaign she acknowledges was full of missteps. But we aren’t voting for the politically inexperienced Boyda of two years ago, we’re voting for thoughtful and independent candidate she’s become. She’s made the wise choice to eschew the DC party machinery and focus on grassroots organizing and winning votes one handshake at a time. If she wins, we can expect a constituent-focused congresswoman in the 2nd district, which itself will be a welcome change. Kansas is too politically volatile for rubber-stamps — whatever party they back — and putting Boyda in congress would get rid of a stamp that’s worn out from overuse.
I’ll be putting up some posts about individual state House races in the next 3 weeks, and people who have particular races they’d like to hear more about, or insights they’d like to add about a race, should let me know.