Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday October 28, 2010

Final fourth district forum. Last night’s debate or forum between all four candidates running for the Kansas fourth Congressional district was the last such event before Election Day. Hosted by KSN Television and moderated by John Snyder, all four candidates appeared: Reform Party candidate Susan Ducey, Democrat Raj Goyle, Republican Mike Pompeo, and Libertarian Shawn Smith. Goyle used almost every question as an opportunity to launch an attack on Pompeo, particularly on the issue of outsourcing of jobs. No dummy — he did go to Harvard law school, after all (so did Pompeo) — Goyle used some clever and creative license to morph nearly every question into these attacks. Pompeo largely ignored Goyle’s attacks but still got in a few digs at him. … Ducey and Smith kept to their principled arguments of limited government and free markets and avoided attacks on each other and the two major party candidates. Ducey, particularly, referred to the constitutionality of programs several times and her belief in states’ rights. Smith’s belief in the superiority of free markets was crystal clear. In his final statement, he referred to the “road to serfdom.” … For those who have been following the campaigns of the two major party candidates, not a lot of new information was presented in the forum. The real news, I think, is the competent and credible performances of the two minor party candidates, Ducey and Smith. They did well in terms of their presentation. Most importantly, if you believe in individual liberty, limited government, and free markets, these two candidates deserve your serious consideration.

Kansas Republicans in control. KWCH Television and SurveyUSA released new polling showing Republicans firmly in the lead for Governor, Secretary of State, and Treasurer. The only race that is close is for Attorney General, where challenger Derek Schmidt leads incumbent Stephen Six 50 percent to 42 percent. Of this race, the pollster commented: “Incumbent Attorney General Steve Six remains the Kansas Democrat with the best chance of keeping his job, but even he trails his rival Republican Derek Schmidt by 8 points, unchanged from the previous poll. Schmidt led by 20 points when polling began in August, but has led in single-digits since. 20% of Republicans cross-over to vote for Six. Independents in this contest break for the Democrat. There continues to be volatility in this race; among seniors, typically the most stable and reliable voters, the lead has changed 4 times in 4 polls.” Interestingly, all three Democratic incumbents — Six, McKinney, and Biggs — have large advantages in fundraising over their Republican challengers.

Tweet of the day. @bob_weeks: Government cake was pretty good at Wichita’s National Center for Aviation Training ribbon cutting ceremony.

Smoking ban now fiscal issue. Today’s Wichita Eagle editorial by Rhonda Holman laments the fact that there’s a possibility the Kansas statewide smoking ban might be overturned. Holman has never respected the property rights-based argument against smoking bans, nor the individual responsibility argument. Now she raises the financial argument for the ban: “Yet in Kansas, the momentum among leaders risks going the wrong way — against public health and the recognition that government has a fiscal responsibility to ban public smoking.” The fiscal responsibility Holman cites comes from the fact that the state pays a lot of the costs of health care, and if fewer people smoke, the state could save money. Perhaps. Next year, I expect Holman to use the same arguments in favor of a ban on alcoholic beverages, salty foods, sugary soda pop, cheeseburgers, and anything else that will increase health care costs. Seriously. By the way, this government regulation of behavior often does not work and produces unintended consequences, as in the recent findings that bans on texting while driving have increased accident rates in some states. Holman supported the Kansas texting ban for safety reasons.

Many more have voted. As of yesterday in Sedgwick County, 39,000 mail ballots have been returned, and 6,300 people had voted in person. Since there are about 260,000 registered voters in the county, 18 percent of all possible voters have already voted. But looking at likely voters — in the 2006 midterm election 118,258 ballots were cast — perhaps 40 percent of likely voters have already voted. In the 2008 general election — a presidential election year — 194,688 ballots were cast, so using that denominator, 24 percent of likely voters have voted.

A reason to vote early. Yesterday this column discussed reasons why voters may want to wait until close to Election Day to vote. But there is one reason for voting as early as possible. If you don’t want voter contact — telephone calls, mailings, people knocking on your door — voting early might reduce the number of contact attempts. This is because campaigns, if they want, can receive a list of voters who have returned their ballots each day. Savvy campaigns will then cross these voters off their lists so they don’t waste effort contacting those who have already voted. To make this work well, you’d want to get everyone in your household to vote early.

Vote machine “malfunctions” reported. There have been several reports that at advance voting locations in Wichita, when the machine flipped to display the page for U.S. Congress, one candidate’s name was already checked, just as if the voter had touched it already. The voters were able to un-check that vote and vote for their intended candidate. I suggested to the tipster that she have people take still photographs, perhaps using a smartphone, of each screen as the voting machine presented it. But an even better solution that would eliminate all source of doubt is this: As you vote, use your smartphone to take video of the entire process. This, I believe, would produce strong evidence of voting machine irregularities, if it is happening.

Wichita Eagle voter guide. Click here. You can get a list of the candidates, along with their responses to questions, customized for your address.

Outside spending cuts both ways. Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle: “White House adviser David Axelrod went after the Chamber of Commerce earlier this month, calling its $75 million campaign ‘a threat to our democracy.’ But as the Wall Street Journal reported last week, the public employees union AFSCME is spending $87.5 million on 2010 campaigns.”

Kansas House could shift. It’s often mentioned that Republicans have large margins in both the Kansas House of Representatives and Senate. In the House, however, there’s a working body of about 55 reliably conservative members. The other Republicans — moderates, they’re called — will vote with Democrats for things like sales tax increases. This could change, however. It’s thought by some that conservatives picked up four seats in the August primary election, getting the House up to 59 reliable conservative votes. 63 votes are needed to have a majority and pass a bill. Can conservatives pick up more seats next Tuesday? Might the prospect of a conservative majority and a conservative governor flip a few moderate Republicans? We may know on Wednesday — or maybe not.

Ballotpedia to have election night coverage. The website Ballotpedia will have election night coverage focusing on ballot issues, state legislative contests, and state attorney general races. Did you know that voters will be electing 6,125 state legislators next week? See What to expect from Ballotpedia election coverage on November 2 for details on the coverage.

Report voter fraud, by phone. American Majority Action has developed and released a voter fraud app for smartphones. Describing it, AMA says “This free, cutting edge system will enable voters to take action to help defend their right to vote. Whether you’re a campaign junkie, or just want a better America, Voter Fraud will help you report violations at the election booth and serve to uphold the democratic process.” I downloaded it for my iPhone.

Waiting for Superman. The Kansas Policy Institute will host a free screening of Waiting for Superman on Thursday November 4th. Of the film, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The new film ‘Waiting for ‘Superman'” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact. Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools.” In Kansas, the Wichita Eagle printed an op-ed penned by the education bureaucracy status quoSharon Hartin Iorio, dean of the Wichita State University College of Education in this case — to inoculate Wichitans against the effects of what I am told is a powerful film. Let’s hope this film gets Kansans to thinking about public schools in our state, as Kansas is way behind the curve on innovation, compared to other states. The film will be shown at 7:00pm at the Warren Theatre East (11611 E. 13th St.). KPI asks that you RSVP by Tuesday, November 2 to James Franko at james.franko@kansaspolicy.org. Space is limited.


One thought on “Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday October 28, 2010”

  1. Shawn Smith impressed me with his reasonable arguments – he is a serious Libertarian candidate who presents himself well. Look forward to seeing the end results, especially the race for Attorney General.

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