Tag Archives: Jean Schodorf

As lawmakers, Kansas judges should be selected democratically

Kansas Judicial Center in snowWhile many believe that judges should not “legislate from the bench,” that is, make law themselves, the reality is that lawmaking is a judicial function. In a democracy, lawmakers should be elected under the principle of “one person, one vote.” But Kansas, which uses the Missouri Plan for judicial selection to its two highest courts, violates this principle.

A recent paper by Kansas University School of Law Professor Stephen J. Ware explains the problem with the process used in Kansas. The paper is titled Originalism, Balanced Legal Realism and Judicial Selection: A Case Study and may be downloaded at no charge. The Kansas courts that use the judicial selection described in the paper are the Kansas Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court.

At issue is whether judges are simply arbitrators of the law, or do they actually participate in the lawmaking process. Ware explains: “This realist view that statutory interpretation often involves ‘substantial judicial discretion’ and therefore constitutes ‘judicial lawmaking, not lawfinding,’ had by the 1950s, ‘become deeply rooted.'”

A “‘balanced realism,’ to use Brian Tamanaha’s appealing label, recognizes both that judges’ policy preferences have little or no influence on many judicial decisions and that judges’ policy preferences have a significant influence on other judicial decisions. Empirical studies tend to support this balanced view.” In other words, there is some role for ideology in making judicial decisions. Politics, therefore, is involved. Ware quotes Charles Gardner Geyh: “In a post-realist age, the ideological orientation of judicial aspirants matters.” And the higher the court, the more this matters.

Since judges function as lawmakers, they ought to be selected by a democratic process. In the Kansas version of the Missouri Plan, a nominating commission dominated by lawyers selects three candidates to fill an opening on the Kansas Court of Appeals or Kansas Supreme Court. The governor then selects one of the three, and the process is over. A new judge is selected. This process gives members of the state’s bar tremendous power in selecting judges.

Ware presents eleven examples of judges on the two highest Kansas courts engaging in lawmaking. In one, a workers’ compensation case, the employee would lose his appeal if the “clear” precedent was followed. Justice Carol A. Beier wrote the opinion. Ware explains:

But this is not, in fact, what Justice Beier and her colleagues on the Kansas Supreme Court did. Rather they did what Kansas Judges Greene and Russell say never happens. Justice Beier and her colleagues engaged in lawmaking. They changed the legal rule from one contrary to their ideologies to one consistent with their ideologies.

Justice Beier’s opinion doing this started by criticizing the old rule, while acknowledging that it was, in fact, the rule prior to her opinion by which the Supreme Court made new law. Here again is the above quote from Coleman, but now with the formerly omitted words restored and italicized: “The rule is clear, if a bit decrepit and unpopular: An injury from horseplay does not arise out of employment and is not compensable unless the employer was aware of the activity or it had become a habit at the workplace.”

Who decided that this rule is “decrepit and unpopular” and so should be changed? Was it the Kansas Legislature? No, it was the Kansas Supreme Court. It was judges, not legislators, who decided that this legal rule was bad policy. It was judges, not legislators, who changed the law to bring it in line with what the lawmaking judges thought was good policy.

Beier wrote in her opinion: “We are clearly convinced here that our old rule should be abandoned. Although appropriate for the time in which it arose, we are persuaded by the overwhelming weight of contrary authority in our sister states and current legal commentary.”

The result: New Kansas law, made by people selected through an undemocratic process.

In conclusion, Ware writes:

Non-lawyers who believe in the principle that lawmakers should be selected democratically need to know that judicial selection is lawmaker selection to be troubled by the Missouri Plan’s violation of this principle. Non-lawyers who do not know that judges inevitably make law may believe that the role of a judge consists only of its professional/technical side and, therefore, believe that judges should be selected entirely on their professional competence and ethics and that assessments of these factors are best left to lawyers. In short, a lawyer who omits lawmaking from a published statement about the judicial role is furthering a misimpression that helps empower lawyers at the expense of non-lawyers, in violation of basic democratic equality, the principle of one-person, one-vote.

Prospects for Kansas

In Kansas, the process for selecting judges to the Kansas Court of Appeals is governed by statute, and can be changed by the legislature and governor. Last year the House of Representatives passed a bill to reform the process, but it was blocked by Senate Judiciary Chair Tim Owens. He said “I think this is the first time I did not hear a bill because I thought it was so bad. This is a terrible, terrible bill that’s hated by the courts; it’s an attempt to take over control of the courts.”

Owens, who ranked as the least friendly senator to economic freedom in the 2012 edition of the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, lost his bid for re-election in the August primary election. Many of the other moderate Republicans who voted against reform also lost their primary election contest.

Owens, it should be noted, is an attorney, and is therefore a member of the privileged class that has outsize power in selecting judges.

Sometimes legislators are simply uninformed or misinformed on judicial selection. An example is Jean Schodorf, who lost a re-election bid in August. In an interview, she was quoted as saying “We thwarted changes to judicial selection that would have allowed the governor to have the final say in all judicial selections.”

The bill that the senate voted on, and the one that Owens killed the year before, called for Court of Appeals judges to be appointed by the governor, with the consent of the senate. It’s actually the senate that has the final say.

Newspaper editorial writers across Kansas are mostly opposed to judicial selection reform. An example is Rhonda Holman of the Wichita Eagle, who in 2010 wrote: “Some critics may have a beef with past court decisions, perhaps even a legitimate one — which is no surprise, given that judicial decisions pick winners and losers. But they also may be motivated by politics — which is a problem, given that the judiciary is supposed to be fair, impartial and independent. In the absence of a strong case for change, Kansas should stick with what works.”

With the change in composition of the Kansas Senate, the climate is more favorable for reform for the way judges are selected for the Kansas Court of Appeals. The law governing how judges for the Kansas Supreme Court are selected is in the Kansas Constitution, and would require an amendment to alter the process. Such an amendment requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature, and then a simple majority vote of the people.

By the way: For those who criticize the support for judicial selection reform as pure power politics, since Kansas has a conservative governor, remember this: When Professor Ware sounded the need for reform and convinced me of the need, our governor was the liberal Kathleen Sebelius. There was also a liberal senate at that time, one which would undoubtedly have rubberstamped any nominee Sebelius might have sent for confirmation.

Originalism, Balanced Legal Realism and Judicial Selection: A Case Study
By Stephen J. Ware

Abstract: The “balanced realist” view that judging inevitably involves lawmaking is widely accepted, even among originalists, such as Justice Scalia, Randy Barnett and Steven Calabresi. Yet many lawyers are still reluctant to acknowledge publicly the inevitability of judicial lawmaking. This reluctance is especially common in debates over the Missouri Plan, a method of judicial selection that divides the power to appoint judges between the governor and the bar.

The Missouri Plan is one of three widely-used methods of selecting state court judges. The other two are: (1) direct election of judges by the citizenry, and (2) appointment of judges by democratically elected officials, typically the governor and legislature, with little or no role for the bar. Each of these two methods of judicial selection respects a democratic society’s basic equality among citizens — the principle of one-person, one-vote. In contrast, the Missouri Plan violates this principle by making a lawyer’s vote worth more than another citizen’s vote.

This Article provides a case study of the clash between the inevitability of judicial lawmaking and the reluctance of lawyers to acknowledge this inevitability while defending their disproportionate power under the Missouri Plan. The Article documents efforts by lawyers in one state, Kansas, to defend their version of the Missouri Plan by attempting to conceal from the public the fact that Kansas judges, like judges in the other 49 states, inevitably make law. The case study then shows examples of Kansas judges making law. The Article concludes that honesty requires lawyers participating in the debate over judicial selection in the United States to forthrightly acknowledge that judges make law. Lawyers who seek to defend the power advantage the Missouri Plan gives them over other citizens can honestly acknowledge that this is a power advantage in the selection of lawmakers and then explain why they believe a departure from the principle of one-person, one-vote is justified in the selection of these particular lawmakers.

The complete paper may be downloaded at no charge here.

Kansas lawmakers, including judges, should be selected democratically

While many believe that judges should not “legislate from the bench,” that is, make law themselves, the reality is that lawmaking is a judicial function. In a democracy, lawmakers should be elected under the principle of “one person, one vote.” But Kansas, which uses the Missouri Plan for judicial selection to its two highest courts, violates this principle.

A recent paper by Kansas University School of Law Professor Stephen J. Ware explains the problem with the process used in Kansas. The paper is titled Originalism, Balanced Legal Realism and Judicial Selection: A Case Study and may be downloaded at no charge. The Kansas courts that use the judicial selection described in the paper are the Kansas Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court.

At issue is whether judges are simply arbitrators of the law, or do they actually participate in the lawmaking process. Ware explains: “This realist view that statutory interpretation often involves ‘substantial judicial discretion’ and therefore constitutes ‘judicial lawmaking, not lawfinding,’ had by the 1950s, ‘become deeply rooted.'”

A “‘balanced realism,’ to use Brian Tamanaha’s appealing label, recognizes both that judges’ policy preferences have little or no influence on many judicial decisions and that judges’ policy preferences have a significant influence on other judicial decisions. Empirical studies tend to support this balanced view.” In other words, there is some role for ideology in making judicial decisions. Politics, therefore, is involved. Ware quotes Charles Gardner Geyh: “In a post-realist age, the ideological orientation of judicial aspirants matters.” And the higher the court, the more this matters.

Since judges function as lawmakers, they ought to be selected by a democratic process. In the Kansas version of the Missouri Plan, a nominating commission dominated by lawyers selects three candidates to fill an opening on the Kansas Court of Appeals or Kansas Supreme Court. The governor then selects one of the three, and the process is over. A new judge is selected. This process gives members of the state’s bar tremendous power in selecting judges.

Ware presents eleven examples of judges on the two highest Kansas courts engaging in lawmaking. In one, a workers’ compensation case, the employee would lose his appeal if the “clear” precedent was followed. Justice Carol A. Beier wrote the opinion. Ware explains:

But this is not, in fact, what Justice Beier and her colleagues on the Kansas Supreme Court did. Rather they did what Kansas Judges Greene and Russell say never happens. Justice Beier and her colleagues engaged in lawmaking. They changed the legal rule from one contrary to their ideologies to one consistent with their ideologies.

Justice Beier’s opinion doing this started by criticizing the old rule, while acknowledging that it was, in fact, the rule prior to her opinion by which the Supreme Court made new law. Here again is the above quote from Coleman, but now with the formerly omitted words restored and italicized: “The rule is clear, if a bit decrepit and unpopular: An injury from horseplay does not arise out of employment and is not compensable unless the employer was aware of the activity or it had become a habit at the workplace.”

Who decided that this rule is “decrepit and unpopular” and so should be changed? Was it the Kansas Legislature? No, it was the Kansas Supreme Court. It was judges, not legislators, who decided that this legal rule was bad policy. It was judges, not legislators, who changed the law to bring it in line with what the lawmaking judges thought was good policy.

Beier wrote in her opinion: “We are clearly convinced here that our old rule should be abandoned. Although appropriate for the time in which it arose, we are persuaded by the overwhelming weight of contrary authority in our sister states and current legal commentary.”

The result: New Kansas law, made by people selected through an undemocratic process.

In conclusion, Ware writes:

Non-lawyers who believe in the principle that lawmakers should be selected democratically need to know that judicial selection is lawmaker selection to be troubled by the Missouri Plan’s violation of this principle. Non-lawyers who do not know that judges inevitably make law may believe that the role of a judge consists only of its professional/technical side and, therefore, believe that judges should be selected entirely on their professional competence and ethics and that assessments of these factors are best left to lawyers. In short, a lawyer who omits lawmaking from a published statement about the judicial role is furthering a misimpression that helps empower lawyers at the expense of non-lawyers, in violation of basic democratic equality, the principle of one-person, one-vote.

Prospects for Kansas

In Kansas, the process for selecting judges to the Kansas Court of Appeals is governed by statute, and can be changed by the legislature and governor. The House of Representatives has passed a bill to reform the process, but it was blocked by Senate Judiciary Chair Tim Owens. He said “I think this is the first time I did not hear a bill because I thought it was so bad. This is a terrible, terrible bill that’s hated by the courts; it’s an attempt to take over control of the courts.”

One of the dividing lines between “conservative” and “moderate” Kansas Senate Republicans is their attitude towards judicial selection, as revealed in a vote taken earlier this year. Owens, who ranked as the least friendly senator to economic freedom in the 2012 edition of the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, lost his bid for re-election in the August primary election. Many of the other moderate Republicans who voted against reform also lost their primary election contest.

Owens, it should be noted, is an attorney, and is therefore a member of the privileged class that has outsize power in selecting judges.

Sometimes legislators are simply uninformed or misinformed on judicial selection. An example is Jean Schodorf, who lost a re-election bid in August. In an interview, she was quoted as saying “We thwarted changes to judicial selection that would have allowed the governor to have the final say in all judicial selections.”

The bill that the senate voted on, and the one that Owens killed the year before, called for Court of Appeals judges to be appointed by the governor, with the consent of the senate. It’s actually the senate that has the final say.

Newspaper editorial writers across Kansas are mostly opposed to judicial selection reform. An example is Rhonda Holman of the Wichita Eagle, who in 2010 wrote: “Some critics may have a beef with past court decisions, perhaps even a legitimate one — which is no surprise, given that judicial decisions pick winners and losers. But they also may be motivated by politics — which is a problem, given that the judiciary is supposed to be fair, impartial and independent. In the absence of a strong case for change, Kansas should stick with what works.”

With the change in composition of the Kansas Senate next year, the climate is more favorable for reform for the way judges are selected for the Kansas Court of Appeals. The law governing how judges for the Kansas Supreme Court are selected is in the Kansas Constitution, and would require an amendment to alter the process. Such an amendment requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature, and then a simple majority vote of the people.

Just last week a federal appeals court ruled that the method Kansas uses to select justices to the Kansas Supreme Court is constitutional.

The Court’s discussion starts on a promising note: “That citizens have a fundamental right to vote for public officials on equal terms with one another is uncontroversial.”

But in the end, the Court sided with the present undemocratic Kansas system: “Kansas designed the Commission to favor lawyers in order to limit the influence of politics on the nomination process and ensure the quality of its judicial nominees. Preserving the quality and independence of the judiciary is a legitimate government interest, and having attorneys elect a majority of the Commission’s members is a rational way to accomplish that goal. Attorneys are better equipped than non-attorneys to evaluate the temperament and legal acumen of judicial candidates and more likely to base their votes on factors other than party affiliation. This is owing in part to their training which enables informed judgments about a candidate’s experience — his credentials, his area of expertise, his body of work — and the extent to which it strengthens or weakens his candidacy. ”

Originalism, Balanced Legal Realism and Judicial Selection: A Case Study
By Stephen J. Ware

Abstract: The “balanced realist” view that judging inevitably involves lawmaking is widely accepted, even among originalists, such as Justice Scalia, Randy Barnett and Steven Calabresi. Yet many lawyers are still reluctant to acknowledge publicly the inevitability of judicial lawmaking. This reluctance is especially common in debates over the Missouri Plan, a method of judicial selection that divides the power to appoint judges between the governor and the bar.

The Missouri Plan is one of three widely-used methods of selecting state court judges. The other two are: (1) direct election of judges by the citizenry, and (2) appointment of judges by democratically elected officials, typically the governor and legislature, with little or no role for the bar. Each of these two methods of judicial selection respects a democratic society’s basic equality among citizens — the principle of one-person, one-vote. In contrast, the Missouri Plan violates this principle by making a lawyer’s vote worth more than another citizen’s vote.

This Article provides a case study of the clash between the inevitability of judicial lawmaking and the reluctance of lawyers to acknowledge this inevitability while defending their disproportionate power under the Missouri Plan. The Article documents efforts by lawyers in one state, Kansas, to defend their version of the Missouri Plan by attempting to conceal from the public the fact that Kansas judges, like judges in the other 49 states, inevitably make law. The case study then shows examples of Kansas judges making law. The Article concludes that honesty requires lawyers participating in the debate over judicial selection in the United States to forthrightly acknowledge that judges make law. Lawyers who seek to defend the power advantage the Missouri Plan gives them over other citizens can honestly acknowledge that this is a power advantage in the selection of lawmakers and then explain why they believe a departure from the principle of one-person, one-vote is justified in the selection of these particular lawmakers.

The complete paper may be downloaded at no charge here.

Schodorf legacy should be evaluated on policy, not politics

News that Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf is leaving the Republican Party after her primary election loss has been treated as mostly a political story, which it certainly is. More important, however, is the potential for new policies and laws regarding Kansas schools that hold the promise of helping Kansas schoolchildren and families.

Senator Schodorf’s most notable cause has been education. As chair of the senate education committee, she has been in a position of tremendous influence over education policy in Kansas. We should examine, then, the results of Kansas education policy.

This summer Kansas received a waiver from the main provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. As part of the waiver, Kansas agreed to create a teacher evaluation system that includes student achievement as a significant factor in the evaluation. Many people would probably be surprised to learn that student achievement isn’t already the major factor, perhaps even the only factor, in teacher evaluations. But under Schodorf’s chairmanship of the senate education committee, this isn’t the case.

Related to this is that Kansas ranks low in policies on teacher quality. Plentiful research shows that among the factors that schools have under their control, teacher effectiveness is by far most important. But under Schodorf’s chairmanship of the senate education committee, these important and broad-reaching reforms were not considered. Instead, her committee devoted enormous time and effort to tinkering with minor issues such as teacher tenure policy, itself a harmful policy.

It’s true that performance on the assessments that are under the control of Kansas are rising. But scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for Kansas students don’t reflect the same trend. Scores on this test, which is given every two years, aren’t rising like the Kansas-controlled test scores. These scores are largely unchanged over the past years.

Senator Schodorf, in her position of chair of the senate education committee, could have asked for an investigation as to why there exists this discrepancy. But she didn’t.

Speaking of test scores: Kansas often proudly claims that its schools rank very well when compared with other states. Compare Kansas with Texas, a state that Kansas school spending boosters like to deride as a state with low-performing schools. But you don’t have to look very hard to realize that these scores are a statistical artifact. It’s an unfortunate fact that minority students do not perform as well on these tests as white students. When you combine this with the fact that Kansas has a relatively small minority population, we can see why Kansas ranks well. In Kansas 69 percent of students are white, while in Texas that number is 33 percent. So it’s not surprising that overall, Kansas outperforms Texas (with one tie) when considering all students in four important areas: fourth and eighth grade reading, and fourth and eighth grade math.

But looking at Hispanic students only, Texas beats or ties Kansas in these four areas. For black students, Texas bests Kansas in all four. Texas does this with much less spending per pupil than Kansas.

Kansas also likes to brag of its high standards for schools. But when compared to other states, Kansas has low standards. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has analyzed state standards, and we can see that Kansas has standards that are below most states. The table of figures is available at Estimated NAEP scale equivalent scores for state proficiency standards, for reading and mathematics in 2009, by grade and state. An analysis of these tables by the Kansas Policy Institute shows that few states have standards below the Kansas standards.

This table is from KPI’s report earlier this year titled Removing Barriers to Better Public Education: Analyzing the facts about student achievement and school spending.

The conclusion by NCES is “… most states’ proficiency standards are at or below NAEP’s definition of Basic performance.” KPI, based on simple analysis of the NCES data, concluded: “Kansas is one of those states, with its Reading Proficiency standard set lower than what the U.S. Department of Education considers Basic performance. Math Proficiency levels are above what NAEP considers to be Basic but still well below the U.S. standard for Proficient.” Did Senator Schodorf, in her role as education committee chair, push for increasing Kansas standards? If she did, we didn’t hear of it, and it certainly didn’t become policy or law.

Across the country, charter schools and school choice programs are offering choice and improved educational outcomes to families. While Kansas has charter schools, the charter school law in Kansas is one of the weakest in the nation, and virtually guarantees that public schools won’t face much meaningful competition from charters. School choice in the form of vouchers or tax credits doesn’t exist at all in Kansas. As a result, Kansas public schools face very little of the competitive forces that have been found to spur public schools to improvement across the country. As chair of the senate education committee, Senator Schodorf worked to make sure that charter schools and school choice are not available to Kansas families.

The departure of Senator Schodorf and other moderate senators is a political story. But it presents a chance for Kansas to make some important changes to its schools that are greatly needed. For this important policy reason, we shouldn’t mourn the loss of Schodorf and the other moderates.

In Kansas, rejecting left-wing Republicans

The headline in the Kansas City Star reads “Voters reject middle ground in Kansas Senate races.” A more accurate conclusion is that voters have realized that the governance of Kansas by a coalition of Democrats and left-wing Republicans has not been in the state’s best interest. Stagnate job growth as compared to other states, increasing spending on schools with no accountability and not even an honest discussion of achievement, falling behind other states in school reform and school choice, a highly undemocratic method of selecting our state’s top judges, resistance to privatization and other measures to streamline government, business tax costs topped by only a few other states: these are some of the results of this coalition.

But yesterday, Kansas voters said goodbye to many of the left-wing Republicans — the so-called “moderates” or “traditional Republicans” — and nominated conservatives in their place. Some nominees face Democratic challengers in November.

The results are a surprise not only for the number of victories by conservatives, but the margin of victory. In Johnson County, incumbent Senator Tim Owens was defeated 60 to 40. Owens ranked at the bottom of all senators — Democrats included — in the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.

In a neighboring district, incumbent Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook won her primary election by a 64 to 36 margin. Pilcher-Cook ranked at the top of the Kansas Economic Freedom index. Conservative Steve Abrams, who ranked well in the KEFI, also defeated a challenger.

Another notable result is the defeat of Senate President Steve Morris.

Other defeats of moderates, some being incumbents, include Jeff Melcher over Pat Colloton to replace John Vratil, Jacob LaTurner over Bob Marshall, Forrest Knox over John Grange, Jeff King over Dwayne Umbarger, Greg Smith over Joe Beveridge, Bob Reader over Roger Reitz, Tom Arpke over Pete Brungardt, Michael O’Donnell over Jean Schodorf, Mitch Holmes over Ruth Teichmann, and Dan Kerschen over Dick Kelsey. Kelsey will dispute being lumped in the moderate camp, but on economic freedom issues, he ranked just barely above neutral.

There were some victories for the moderates. Kay Wolf won the primary to replace Terrie Huntington, which is a retention for moderates. In Topeka, moderate Vicki Schmidt retains a place in the Senate, as does Carolyn McGinn in south-central Kansas. Pat Apple defeated a challenge from Charlotte O’Hara. Apple ranks barely above neutral in the KEFI, while O’Hara, in the Kansas House, was near the top. Jeff Longbine survived a challenge from conservative James Fawcett.

Commenting on the results, Americans for Prosperity–Kansas state director Derrick Sontag said “The primary results make one thing clear: Kansans support those who promote fiscally conservative, limited government, free market policies. Fiscal conservatives are now being elected because of the policies that have failed our state for years. This new field of candidates vying for office reflects a continued desire to put a stop to the rampant state spending and high tax burdens of the past. It is evident from the results at the ballot box that Kansans want a reasonable, responsible government and we are optimistic that our state is now starting to head down the path toward prosperity and a strong Kansas economy.”

In local races in south-central Kansas, voters rejected the challenge by left-wing Republican Wichita City Council Member Jeff Longwell to incumbent Karl Peterjohn. Longwell had the endorsement of Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and all Wichita City Council members except Michael O’Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita). Three Sedgwick County Commission members endorsed Longwell, too. As there is no Democratic contestant, this race is over.

In suburban Andover, voters rejected a proposed property tax increase for schools. Update: After the final canvass of votes, the tax increase passed by two votes.

Sedgwick County voter registration changes: Impact on senate races

During the Kansas primary election season, there have been efforts to recruit Democratic party voters to change their voter registration to Republican in order to participate in Republican party primary races. Kansas National Education Association (KNEA) has asked teachers union members to switch their voter registration in order to vote in Republican primaries. KNEA has asked this on its website and in an email that has received widespread attention.

Former Wichita Mayor Elma Broadfoot has recorded telephone calls urging Democrats to switch party registration so they may vote for moderate Republicans, reports the Wichita Eagle.

Whether this effort will be successful is unknown. But we now know, for Sedgwick County, how many people have changed their voter registration to Republican in recent months.

I took a Sedgwick County voter file obtained in May and compared it to one current as of Friday, which is after the deadline for changing voter registration. In the accompanying table, I counted voters who switched to Republican registration from some other party. I grouped the data by Kansas Senate district, as this is where much of the focus has been. I also present totals for Sedgwick County, as some county-wide races may also be impacted.

Voter registration party changes in Sedgwick County

It’s important to remember that some of these senate districts are not totally within Sedgwick County, and this table includes only Sedgwick County voters. Districts 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30 are entirely within the county, and all voters in these districts are represented in the table.

Numbers in context

Now that we know the number of voters who switched to Republican registration, are these numbers large enough to affect any races? The answer is we simply don’t know. We don’t know why these voters switched to Republican registration. Their motive may be to vote for the moderate candidate, but there could be other reasons, too.

To place these numbers in context, consider the race for senate district 25, which pits incumbent Jean Schodorf against Wichita City Council Member Michael O’Donnell. In this district, 230 voters switched to Republican registration.

In the 2008 primary, 2,435 people voted for Schodorf, but there was no opponent. About 4,000 voted for Les Donovan in his primary, and about the same for Susan Wagle in her district, but again these races were uncontested. In the 2008 general election, 16,016 voted for Schodorf over 9,530 cast for her opponent, for a total of 25,546 votes cast, plus a few write-ins. But general elections, by their nature, have a much higher turnout than primaries.

A better election to compare is the 2004 Republican primary for senate district 30 in east Wichita, when former Wichita Mayor Bob Knight challenged incumbent Susan Wagle in a race that received much attention. Knight received 3,140 votes to Wagle’s 5,624, for a total of 8,764 votes cast.

230 voters switching registration out of a potential vote total of 8,764 is 2.6 percent. Many races are decided by less than that margin. But again, we don’t know the intent of these 230 voters, and while these voters are probably more motivated than most, some may not vote.

We should also note that district 27 had 223 voters switch to Republican affiliation during the same period. Incumbent Les Donovan has no primary opponent. He will face a Democrat in the general election, but party registration doesn’t matter at that time. In district 30, 160 voters switched to Republican registration. Incumbent Susan Wagle has no primary opponent.

It’s also noteworthy that switching to Republican registration is not the only action I observed. For example, in District 25, while 230 voters switched to Republican, 51 Democratic voters switched to Unaffiliated registration, 42 Republicans switched to Unaffiliated, and seven voters became Libertarian party voters. On election day Unaffiliated voters can switch their registration to Republican and vote in the primary.

Finally, there are new voters of all parties, including Republican. The analysis above counts only voters who changed party registration to Republican.

Overall, 2,001 voters in Sedgwick County switched party registration during this two-month period, with 1,126 switching to Republican.

Kansas fourth district poll shows Pompeo lead, little change

A KWCH Television and SurveyUSA poll of candidates for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas shows little change from a similar poll about a month ago.

The poll shows Republican Mike Pompeo leading Democrat Raj Goyle by 50 percent to 40 percent. These numbers changed just slightly from the previous survey, which had Pompeo leading 49 percent to 42 percent. Neither of the changes are statistically significant.

Four percent of the voters are undecided.

Other results include Reform party candidate Susan Ducey with four percent, and Libertarian David Moffett with three percent.

SurveyUSA’s commentary is as follows: “Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released 1 month ago, Pompeo is up an insignificant 1 point; Goyle is down an insignificant 2. Pompeo has gained ground among the oldest, traditionally the most reliable voters, where he had trailed by 16, now leads by 4. Goyle offsets this by cutting into Pompeo’s lead among middle-aged voters, where Pompeo had led by 34 points, now leads by 20. 18% of Republicans today cross over to vote for Goyle, down from 22% last month; 12% of Democrats cross over to vote for Pompeo, up from 6% last month. Independents today lean slightly toward Goyle, favoring the Democrat by 7 points, up from a nominal 2-point lead 1 month ago.”

Goyle’s campaign has released the results of its own poll from last week, which shows Pompeo leading Goyle by 46 percent to 44 percent, a closer lead than the KWCH/SurveyUSA poll. No details of its methodology were released.

During the primary election, Jean Schodorf’s campaign released surveys that showed her to be leading. In the end, the KWCH/SurveyUSA poll correctly predicted Pompeo as the winner, although it understated the vote he actually received.

During the period between the two KWCH/SurveyUSA polls, Goyle has been actively advertising on television. The Pompeo campaign started advertising on September 9th, just before this poll was conducted.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll resultsKansas fourth Congressional district poll results

Wink Hartman, Libertarian Party candidate?

As reported by Rebecca Zepick on State of the State KS, former Republican Congressional candidate from the fourth district of Kansas Wink Hartman may be considering another run for that position, this time as nominee of the Kansas Libertarian Party.

Zepick reported the news Saturday in the story Hartman Considering Re-Entering Race For Congress Against Pompeo and Goyle. She appeared later that day by telephone on KNSS Radio’s Jim Anderson Program, as did several others involved in this story.

Anderson’s radio program proved to be a sounding board for several issues surrounding this race. For example: All the Republican Party candidates pledged, several times, to support the winner of the Republican primary. A caller to Anderson’s radio show brought up this point, and reminded Anderson — the host of the show — that he, too, made the pledge. Anderson became agitated, at one point threatening to cut off the caller.

Anderson said that after a certain point, the campaign changed and became negative. Although he didn’t say so explicitly, it is clear that Anderson believes the negativity releases him from his pledge to support the winner of the primary. “I’m not supporting anybody right now,” he told listeners. He repeated this later in the show.

After this, Kansas Libertarian Party Chair and candidate for governor Andrew Gray appeared as a guest, calling in by telephone. Gray said the key to Hartman joining the ticket is Hartman’s ability to — currently or in the future — fit in the “Libertarian mode.”

Michael O’Donnell, a staff member in the Hartman campaign, then appeared by telephone and noted, as had Anderson, that the pledges to support the eventual primary election winner were made before the campaign became negative. True enough.

But where O’Donnell missed the mark is in his assertion that the Pompeo campaign launched the first negative attacks, referring to information made available about Hartman’s Florida home ownership and his Florida voting record. Hartman’s recent Florida voting record was first reported by me on this site.

While this information was not convenient to the Hartman campaign, it did not fall into the category of negative campaigning. This is the type of information voters are interested in. It was a matter of public record. It was all true.

O’Donnell said that the Hartman campaign merely retaliated. But it did much more than that, launching some vicious attacks on Pompeo using the techniques of negative campaigns. Hartman’s campaign escalated the attacks, culminating with a charge against Pompeo that Hartman could not back up with convincing evidence.

The pledges to support the primary winner were not made conditionally. They were absolute. In particular, candidates Anderson and Jean Schodorf need to step up and support Pompeo, the nominee. Evidently Paij Rutschman has made a financial contribution to the Pompeo campaign, but her website doesn’t endorse Pompeo.

Looking forward, O’Donnell said that he wanted to make sure that Hartman didn’t appear as a “sore loser mentality.” Losing a primary and then running on a different ticket qualifies as just that: a sore loser. And Hartman lost the primary election in a big way. Hartman’s support declined in the polls as the election drew closer. From July 1 to July 28 his campaign did not receive a single dollar in campaign contributions other than those made by the candidate himself.

Now Hartman may seek another round.

It’s difficult to see what positive things Hartman would accomplish as the Libertarian Party candidate. His political views are barely compatible with those of libertarians. Hartman seems the type of Republican that pokes fun of libertarians — like me — for their absolute defense of personal liberty (including legalization of all drugs and prostitution), a peaceful and non-imperialist foreign policy, deregulation of marriage (not prohibiting gay marriage), a welcoming approach to immigrants (instead of the fortified border that Hartman advocated during the campaign), and uncompromising opposition to corporate welfare (as reported, Hartman will receive many millions in such welfare in conjunction with his Hartman Arena).

Radical forms of libertarianism, including anarcho-capitalism or even the milder minarchism, seem beyond Hartman’s ability to grasp and understand.

The Kansas Libertarian Party has a decision to make, too. Will it embrace a candidate — one clearly non-libertarian and blemished from running a negative campaign — who can contribute millions to its cause and give the party a big boost in coverage and recognition?

Kansas polls and election results

In the hotly contested Kansas Republican primary elections this year, polls generated a lot of interest. In two Kansas Congressional districts, independent polls did a good job of predicting the vote for all candidates except the two winners, and a candidate’s own poll may have been undermined by large voter turnout.

In a KWCH/SurveyUSA poll of the Kansas first Congressional district, the poll accurately (within the margin of sampling error) predicted the outcomes for all candidates except for victor Tim Huelskamp. The survey predicted 24 percent of the vote for him, and the actual vote was 35 percent. This poll had three candidates tied, so it didn’t predict a winner.

The same group also polled the fourth Congressional district. For three candidates — Jim Anderson, Wink Hartman, and Jean Schodorf, the poll predicted the exact percentage that the candidates actually received. The exception was winner Mike Pompeo. The poll predicted he would win and receive 31 percent of the vote. He did win, and his actual vote total was 39 percent.

An election eve poll by political consulting firm Singularis had mixed results in the fourth district, but is notable in that it predicted eventual winner Pompeo’s vote total closely. The poll indicated 37 percent of the vote, and the actual was 39 percent.

In the fourth district, Schodorf released four polls that her campaign commissioned. Each poll showed her support increasing, until in the third poll, she took the lead. In the fourth poll her lead increased.

When comparing this poll to actual election results, we find that Schodorf’s poll overstated her actual performance by six percentage points. The performance of Anderson and Hartman were understated by six and seven points. For winner Pompeo, the final Schodorf poll understated his performance by 13 percentage points. (These polls did not include candidate Paij Rutschman.)

In a conversation before the election with Schodorf’s pollster, he indicated several reasons why the numbers in her surveys were different than the KWCH/SurveyUSA poll numbers.

One difference between the polls was the source of the voters called by the pollsters. The KWCH/SurveyUSA polls started with a list of households. To determine likely voters, the pollster would ask respondents if they were going to vote. Schodorf’s polls used voter lists as a source, calling only on voters who had a history of voting in August primary elections.

Because many people look at voting as a positive civic duty, it is thought that people will overstate their actual tendency to vote, and this is a reason why polls might decide to use voter history as a selection device, especially in primary elections where turnout is generally low. It is standard practice of campaigns to use voter lists in their voter contact efforts.

But this year voter turnout was high. The Wichita Eagle reported voter turnout in Sedgwick County — home to about 71 percent of the population in the fourth district — was 25 percent. That’s higher than the 19 percent turnout predicted statewide, and higher than in most primary elections.

Considering Republican voters, the Sedgwick County election office reports there are 104,558 registered Republicans, and 49,967 Republican ballots were cast. That indicates a turnout of almost 48 percent, considering Sedgwick County only.

By calling only those with a history of primary voting, many people who voted in this election would not have been sampled by polls based on voter history.

The Schodorf polls were conducted by live operators, while the KWCH/SurveyUSA polls were automated response. This can lead to a difference in the types of people that respond to the poll.

In the Republican Senate primary between Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt, the final KWCH/SurveyUSA poll had Moran ahead by 49 to 39 percent, with eight percent undecided. The actual totals were Moran winning with 50 percent to Tiahrt’s 45 percent, so that poll understated Tiahrt’s total by six percentage points while correctly choosing the winner.

Schodorf, Pottorff claim to have cut spending

Two Kansas Republicans — one running for re-election, the other for higher office — both claim to have led the way in cutting the Kansas state budget. These claims, however, are at odds with the facts and both candidates’ records.

Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf is a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas. A television advertisement states that she “led the effort in the Senate to cut over $1 billion from the state budget.”

In Kansas House District 83 in east Wichita, Jo Ann Pottorff is seeking re-election. In a Wichita Eagle advertisement, she made a similar claim to Schodorf, stating “I forced state government to live within its means by cutting $1 billion in excess spending and voting down attempts to grow government by more than $185 million.”

There are a few ways to look at these claims. First, both of these politicians have big-spending and big-taxing records. In any sort of legislative vote rating system that rewards fiscally conservative votes, these two women rank very low year after year. Both voted for the spending programs that grew Kansas spending so much over the last five years that cuts in the rate of growth were necessary this year.

But these “cuts” were not cuts in actual spending. They were cuts in planned spending. The budget that both candidates voted for this year increased state spending by $200 million over the past year.

By the way, both candidates voted to increase the statewide sales tax this year. They attempt to justify this vote by saying that if the state didn’t increase taxes, it would force local governments and school districts to increase property taxes.

That would be the case only if schools kept spending at current levels. There are plenty of things schools could have done to save money — including implementing school choice programs which save money — but neither of these candidates considered that politically feasible. Their generous campaign contributions from the school spending lobby may have helped form their thinking on this issue.

In the chart below, you can see that Pottorff has had a few years in which she earned respectable vote ratings. But Schodorf has not.

Voters who desire conservative candidates should not be fooled by the efforts of both Schodorf and Pottorff to portray themselves as fiscally conservative legislators. It may turn out that their constituents prefer their left-wing voting records, and it’s the right of voters to do so. But voters should understand the choice they’re faced with.

Kansas legislative vote ratings for Jo Ann Pottorff and Jean SchodorfKansas legislative vote ratings for Jo Ann Pottorff and Jean Schodorf

Final Kansas fourth Congressional district polls indicate close race

Update: An election eve poll has been released. Click on Kansas election eve poll.

Final polls indicate a close race in the contest for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas. Two candidates, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf, are virtually tied for the lead as the campaign enters its final few days.

The candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Schodorf campaign poll

Candidate Jean Schodorf has released a survey that shows her, again, in the lead. The poll was conducted on behalf of the Schodorf campaign on July 29th. It shows her in the lead with 30 of the vote, with Pompeo just behind and within the margin of sampling error, at 26 percent.

Hartman is in third place with 16 percent, and Anderson follows with seven percent. As in the past, Schodorf’s polls didn’t include Rutschman. 21 percent are undecided, which is again — as it has always been with Schodorf’s polls — much higher than produced by independent polls.

The news release accompanying this canvass didn’t give many details, but Schodorf’s past polls conducted by the same consulting firm have been live operator surveys of 400 voters. Likely primary voters are selected by using voter lists.

As with all polls produced on behalf of a candidate, we need to remember that surveys produced and released by campaigns are just that, and the results would probably not be released by a campaign if the results did not portray the candidate favorably.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll resultsKansas fourth Congressional district poll results

State of the State KS poll

State of the State KS in conjunction with Fort Hays State University and its Docking Institute of Public Affairs has released a poll of the Kansas first and fourth Congressional districts. The results for the fourth district are at State of the State KS Poll: Schodorf And Pompeo Take Lead In Campaign For Congress in Fourth District.

In the poll, Schodorf leads with 22 percent, Pompeo has 19 percent, Hartman has 13 percent, Democrat Raj Goyle as 11 percent, Anderson with six percent, and 28 percent are undecided.

This poll differs from others in that Goyle, one of the two Democratic Party candidates, was included with the Republicans in the survey question.

This survey used a smaller sample size, and as a result the margin of sampling error is larger at eight percent.

Commentary on the results of this survey by Fort Hays University Political Science Professor Chapman Rackaway concluded: “In short, Pompeo and Schodorf seem to be the two strongest candidates with Hartman struggling to keep up after a very strong opening to his campaign. Pompeo has established himself as the candidate of choice for conservatives, regardless of what issue the respondent self-identifies on. Schodorf’s lead among women and moderates has put her ahead, only slightly.”

The State of the State KS survey asked many background questions, and they may be read at State of the State KS.

Averaging the Kansas fourth district polls

Taking the last three available polls (the two described above and the KWCH/SurveyUSA poll) we find a very close race between two candidates for this nomination. Pompeo and Schodorf lead with 25 percent, with Hartman at 17 percent and Anderson at nine percent. 18 percent are undecided.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll results averagedKansas fourth Congressional district poll results averaged

Kansas fourth district poll shows tightening race with Pompeo in lead

KWCH Television in Wichita and SurveyUSA have released a poll of candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas.

The survey shows support for Wichita businessman Jim Anderson and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf on the rise, while the numbers for Wichita businessman Wink Hartman continue to decline. The support for Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo also fell slightly, well within the poll’s level of sampling error.

The numbers have Pompeo leading with 31 percent, Schodorf with 24 percent, Hartman with 23 percent, Anderson with 13 percent, and Latham engineer Paij Rutschman at two percent.

Undecided voters are at six percent. The poll was conducted July 26th through 28th. The margin of sampling error is 3.5 percent.

Interestingly, this poll has Schodorf at the same level of support as shown in her own internal poll released earlier this week. Her poll, however, showed her in first place with 24 percent support, with Pompeo in second place at 21 percent. That difference is within the poll’s sampling error.

The Schodorf poll had 32 percent of voters as undecided, which is — and has been the case with all of Schodorf’s surveys — several times higher than the six percent undecided measured by SurveyUSA.

State of the State KS is working on a poll that should be released today or tomorrow. This will provide another independent measure of voter sentiment as election day — August 3rd — draws near.

Some voters have already voted. At yesterday’s meeting of the Sedgwick County Commission, Election Commissioner Bill Gale said that about 13,000 mail ballots have been sent to voters, with about half being returned already.

In the 2008 primary election, 36,724 ballots were cast in Sedgwick County. With 6,500 ballots already returned, this means that at least 17 percent of voters (assuming the same turnout as in 2008) have already voted.

For the fourth Kansas Congressional district, about 71 percent of the population is in Sedgwick County.

On the Democratic Party side of this race, it appears that the television advertisements appearing for Raj Goyle are working. He trailed in the last poll two weeks ago, but now leads opponent Robert Tillman 63 percent to 19 percent, with 18 percent undecided. Two weeks ago Tillman led Goyle 40 percent to 36 percent.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll resultsKansas fourth Congressional district poll results

Kansas fourth Congressional district campaign finance reports

Candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas have filed campaign finance reports for the first two weeks of July and some last-minute reports since then.

The reports show Wichita businessman Wink Hartman continuing to self-finance his campaign, with $0 in outside contributions collected in July. His campaign continues to spend at a rapid pace.

The candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Here is a summary of FEC campaign finance reports for the first part of July 2010:

Kansas Fourth District Republican campaign finance reports,
July 1, 2010 through July 14, 2010

               Anderson  Hartman   Pompeo  Schodorf
Contributions    2,060         0   49,347    14,891
Candidate loans      0   289,537        0         0
Expenditures     2,240   427,872  207,830    23,172
Cash balance     4,049    40,958  286,032     8,823

Figures for Rutschman were not available at the FEC data site.

Figures that stand out in this report include zero dollars raised by the Hartman campaign from individual contributions. All money raised during this period came from the candidate himself.

Also, Hartman spent more than twice as much as the second-largest spender.

Pompeo has, by far, the largest cash balance as of July 14. Normally this would be a positive factor as the campaign proceeds to election day. Hartman’s smaller cash balance, however, has little of the normal meaning associated with it, as the candidate makes frequent contributions to his campaign as funds are required. This is characteristic of self-financed campaigns.

From the start of the election cycle through July 14, 2010, the numbers look like this:

Kansas Fourth District Republican campaign finance reports,
through July 14, 2010

              Anderson   Hartman   Pompeo Rutschman Schodorf
Contributions  38,924    141,949  935,087       80   50,338
Candidate loans 3,275  1,563,137        0   30,000   29,006
Expenditures   37,301  1,664,129  649,054   24,464   70,521

(Rutschman’s figures are through June 30, 2010)

In this table we see the largely self-financed Hartman campaign outspending all other candidates. His campaign has spent more than twice as much as all other campaigns together.

This still isn’t the entire story, as candidates are filing “48 hour notice” reports of last-minute contributions (expenditures are not included in these filings). Through July 28, 2010, here are the numbers:

           Anderson   Hartman  Pompeo
Total        5,100    348,500  35,700

(Schodorf and Rutschman have not filed any of these reports.)

In the case of Hartman, the total of $348,500 is all from the candidate himself. Overall, the Hartman campaign has raised $2,053,586, with 93 percent from candidate self-financing.

According to OpenSecrets.org, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics, the average amount spent by winning candidates in 2008 for the U.S. House of Representatives was $1,372,591. Hartman is well over this figure.

Each House district has roughly the same population, although the cost of running campaigns varies widely due to the differing characteristics of districts.

Self-financed candidates

As the Kansas fourth district has one candidate who is self-financed, let’s take a look at self-financed candidates and their characteristics.

In writing about political scientist Jennifer A. Steen and her book, Self-Financed Candidates in Congressional Elections (University of Michigan Press, 2006), Bruce Bartlett wrote this:

One of her findings is that the necessity of asking people for contributions is valuable to a candidate, especially inexperienced ones. She thinks this is mainly because self-financing keeps bad candidates from being weeded out of contention by a lack of contributions. But I think it also results because once people have given someone a campaign contribution they become invested in that candidate and are more willing to vote for him or her on Election Day and to work on his or her behalf.

Voters also resent candidates who appear to be trying to buy an election. Self-financed candidates may be independent of special interests, but they also often appear aloof from the concerns of average voters. Having to ask people for money forces a candidate to take their feedback, thus learning about their concerns directly rather than filtered through pollsters and consultants.

In her book, Steen writes: “They [self-financers] are also less likely to engage in what Richard Feuno calls ‘two-way’ campaigning, or interaction between the candidate and constituency, which thus entails some degree of learning and responsiveness on the candidates part.”

Perhaps as a result, self-financed candidates don’t have a very good track record of winning elections. Steen found that for competitive U.S. House of Representative districts, candidates who are “extreme self-financers” (Hartman falls in this category) won 37 percent of primary election contests. That winning percentage falls to 31 percent in general elections.

Voters are interested in what type of representative a candidate would make. Do self-financed candidates differ from other candidates once in office? Steen writes: “These differences do not recommend self-financers as representatives. They are quite unlike the vast majority of citizens, even citizens in more affluent districts, and they are less likely than non-self-financers to confront and engage the citizens they seek to represent.”

Self-financed candidates usually claim that since they have a source of campaign funds independent from the usual sources — which these candidates usually describe as “corrupt” or undesirable in some other sinister way — they can act in the best interests of all their constituents once in office. But Steen found differently: “However, once elected most self-financers assimilate very rapidly to the norms of fund-raising — only a small percentage continue to resist the charms of campaign contributors.”

Kansas fourth Congressional district campaign financeKansas fourth Congressional district campaign finance

Hartman ad claims remain elusive

The claims made last week in a campaign advertisement by Wichita businessman Wink Hartman remain elusive and largely unproven.

Hartman is running for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas. The other candidates and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Scott Paradise, the Hartman campaign manager, will not accommodate my request to view the documents that he says prove the allegations in the ad.

Paradise said he is “not happy” with some things I’ve written about Hartman. I don’t imagine he is, as I’ve written several articles critical of Hartman. But I offered to go to the campaign office and look at the documents and hear what the campaign had to say.

What voters are left with is a last-minute inflammatory charge made by Hartman against Pompeo without having evidence of the charges. We know this is true because the campaign wasn’t able to produce evidence immediately and had to wait for the accuser to supply documents. That evidence, when examined by two Wichita Eagle reporters, appeared to indicate that Thayer Aerospace, Pompeo’s company, made “late, and in some cases reduced, payments” to one of its suppliers.

The accuser says the company didn’t pay and drove him out of business and into bankruptcy. There’s a lot of distance between these two claims.

We also know that the Hartman campaign ran the ad without identifying the businessman, perhaps hoping that no one would be able to identify him and investigate his claims.

Florida issue miscast

At issue also has been Hartman’s residency. Critics say that by claiming a “homestead” property tax exemption on a home he owns in Florida, Hartman became a Florida — not Kansas — resident.

There’s also been discussion as to whether he filed income taxes as a Kansas or Florida resident. Hartman says he’s paid all his taxes in Kansas.

But voting is something over which there is no controversy. As first reported on this site, Hartman most recently voted in Florida. Both he and his wife voted in Florida’s general election and presidential preference primary election in 2008.

They didn’t register to vote in Kansas until July of last year.

Voting by mail is popular in Sedgwick County, with 36 percent of the ballots cast in the November 2008 general election cast by mail. It doesn’t cost anything more than a postage stamp and the desire to cast your vote where you feel your political home is.

Schodorf poll shows her campaign in lead

Yesterday the campaign of Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf released a poll that shows her in the lead in the race for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas.

The candidates and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

The poll was conducted on July 22, before the Wichita Eagle editorial board announced its endorsement of Schodorf. It shows her with 24 percent of the vote. Pompeo is in second place with 21 percent, Hartman in third with 16 percent, and Anderson with seven percent.

The question asked of voters, according to Schodorf, is “If the election for congress were today, would you be voting for Jean Schodorf, Jim Anderson, Mike Pompeo, or Wink Hartman”? Candidate names are rotated. The poll question does not included candidate Rutschman.

The 400 poll respondents were selected from those who had voted in the last two primary elections in the fourth district. The campaign says that “This number of interviews produces survey results that are accurate at the 95% level of confidence.” No margin of error was given for this confidence level, but in a conversation with Jim Yonally of Jayhawk Consulting Services, the firm that conducted the poll, he said the sampling error was four percentage points.

That means that Schodorf’s lead of three percentage points is within the margin of sampling error.

As with all polls produced on behalf of a candidate, we need to remember that surveys produced and released by campaigns are just that, and the results would probably not be released by a campaign if the results did not portray the candidate favorably.

Schodorf’s three publicly-released polls could not have turned out better for the candidate. Starting low, each poll has showed her increasing her numbers, until this poll shows her in the lead.

Besides being the first poll showing Schodorf in the lead, her campaign polls have always differed from the independent polls in showing a very high number of undecided voters. Yonally said he believes that his firm’s practice of using human operators to conduct the survey produces more accurate results than do automated polling systems.

The poll also indicates Pompeo’s support increasing, while Hartman’s drops.

KWCH Television will release an independent SurveyUSA poll of the fourth district this week, I am told.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll resultsKansas fourth Congressional district poll results

Wink Hartman ad a bust, disservice

On Tuesday the Wink Hartman campaign began running a television advertisement that contains claims about Mike Pompeo that, so far, are unsubstantiated. See Hartman ad malicious and false, says Pompeo and Pompeo Disputes Claims In Hartman Ads, Demands Hartman Show Evidence.

Hartman’s campaign manager said he would supply proof of the claims made in the ad by Daniel Lind, a Wichita businessman, by late Wednesday. As of Friday, little in the way of evidence has been provided. The Hartman staff says it is gathering documents and waiting for a bank to provide documents.

So what can we make of this advertisement, and more importantly, the candidate pacing the ad?

One thing we know for sure is that the Hartman campaign prepared and aired the ad without having evidence of the claims. If it had evidence, it should have been able to provide it immediately upon request.

Whether the claims turn out to be true or not, this unpreparedness we can be certain of. This is evidence of recklessness of Hartman, his campaign, and the people — including political consultant Axiom Strategies — involved in his election effort.

Axiom is a controversial political consulting firm. On its website, it boasts of news coverage of the campaigns it and its head, Jeff Roe, have run: “Controversial campaign tactics are the stuff of political legend,” “Known for his bare-knuckle campaign tactics,” “Political consultant plays hardball and scores big: The pugnacious campaign tactics…”

Further, these attack ads that are sprung on the voting public at the last moment are a public disservice. With little time to investigate the claims — and with the Hartman campaign dragging out the process — voters are understandably frustrated.

Additionally, the claim made in this advertisement has nothing to do with public policy. Even if it was true.

Recent ads placed by candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas have been positive ads, with candidates talking about themselves and their plans if elected to Congress.

That’s true of all campaigns except the Hartman campaign. He continues to sling mud at the candidate he considers his chief rival. Voters ought to consider this when deciding whom to vote for.

Remember that political ads are now accompanied the statements of candidates that they approve the ads: “I’m Wink Hartman and I approve this ad.”

The candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Hartman ad malicious and false, says Pompeo

The campaign for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas has been marked by some hard-hitting commercials. Often commercials are based on subjective claims, such as “Vote for me! I’m great and my opponent is terrible!”

Now the Wink Hartman campaign has aired a television advertisement that leading rival Mike Pompeo says is objectively false.

In the ad, an unidentified man says that Thayer Aerospace, a Wichita manufacturing company that Pompeo once headed, failed to pay the man’s small business. As a result the man had to declare bankruptcy.

In a statement read by Pompeo at a press conference today, Pompeo said that they were able to identify the man as Daniel Lind, and the company as Machining Concepts, Inc.

Pompeo said Thayer Aerospace had purchased products from the company, and that all bills were paid: “The total volume of the work performed by that company for Thayer Aerospace was approximately $351,000. All of the obligations associated with that work were paid for by Thayer Aerospace.”

Pompeo said that evidence of the falsity of Lind’s claim of non-payment by Thayer include Lind’s bankruptcy filing — referred to by Lind in the advertisement — in which Thayer Aerospace is not mentioned. In the filing, under “Accounts Receivable,” Lind marked “none.” A debt owed to Lind’s business should have been listed here.

In a Wichita Eagle news story, Lind stands by his claims. He says he didn’t sue Thayer over the debt because he couldn’t afford it. While that may be true, it wouldn’t have cost anything to list Thayer on the bankruptcy filing.

Pompeo said he will ask television stations to stop airing the ad based on the falsity of the claims made within. But as explained in a Time magazine article and confirmed in a conversation with a former television station manager, media outlets do not have the ability to pick and choose which candidate advertisements they broadcast. Explains Time: “Broadcasters are actually obligated to run [candidate] ads, even those known to be false. Under the Federal Communications Act, a station can have a blanket policy of refusing all ads from all candidates. But they cannot single out and decline to air a particular commercial whose content they know to be a lie.”

As of this moment, the Hartman campaign has not responded to requests for documentation or other information regarding Lind’s claims.

The candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Wink Hartman on bailouts, and his own

Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas is opposed to government bailouts. Strongly so.

At a January 15th candidate forum, he said “I am one hundred percent against bailouts of any type, shape, or form. Of all the companies I run, not one time has anybody, including the government, come through that front door and said ‘Wink, you screwed this thing up but I want to write you a check anyway.'”

Contradicting Hartman’s claim is his 1987 personal bankruptcy filing. It qualifies as a bailout. It’s true that during the process no one wrote him a check, so his claim in the forum is correct on a certain level. But when debt is canceled, it’s just like someone wrote a check. It has the same economic effect for the debtor.

And while Hartman said that no one — and emphasizing the government — has written a check, it’s government debt that was canceled, according to bankruptcy court records. Both the federal government and the State of Kansas received only 12 percent of their claims against Hartman for taxes owed.

Investigations by myself and others indicate that Hartman may have repaid some of his creditors, but not all. It’s difficult to tell, as the bankruptcy filing was 23 years ago.

But even if Hartman did repay all creditors, the government, through the bankruptcy laws, stepped in and gave him the reprieve of time. That’s a bailout, by any measure.

The candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Schodorf poll indicates three-way tie in Kansas fourth Congressional district

Today the campaign of Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf released a poll that shows her in a three-way tie with Wichita businessmen Wink Hartman and Mike Pompeo in the race for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas.

The candidates and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

In answering a telephone question “If the election for congress were today, would you be voting for Jean Schodorf, Jim Anderson, Mike Pompeo, or Wink Hartman?” with the names rotated, Schodorf’s survey shows Hartman in the lead with 19 percent, Schodorf with 18 percent, Pompeo with 16 percent, Anderson at nine percent, and 39 percent undecided.

As with all polls produced on behalf of a candidate, we need to remember that surveys produced and released by campaigns are just that, and the results would probably not be released by a campaign if the results did not portray the candidate favorably. Without knowledge of the questions being asked, there is always the possibility that a survey is a “push poll,” meaning an instrument designed to influence participants and produce a desired result.

The Schodorf campaign released the text of the question asked, but other questions asked — or statements made — before the reported question can influence the response.

The difference between the Schodorf campaign poll and an independent effort conducted last week can be seen in two places: First, Schodorf — in her campaign’s results — is in a statistical tie with Hartman and Pompeo, and the number of undecided voters in Schodorf’s poll is much higher than in the SurveyUSA poll from last week. In that poll, undecided voters were nine percent of the total. That’s less than one-fourth of the undecided voters found in the Schodorf poll.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll resultsKansas fourth Congressional district poll results

Kansas fourth district candidates on spending and deficit reduction

In a June 22nd forum of candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas sponsored by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, candidates were asked about their plans to reduce the federal deficit and national debt.

The candidates and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

A question by moderator Steve McIntosh recited the current large debt and deficit figures, noted that Medicare and Social Security are headed down an unsustainable path, and said that Americans are worried about the negative effects of letting the Bush tax cuts expire. What is your plan for reducing the deficit and debt, while keeping taxes low enough to allow for economic growth?

Answering first, Rutschman said we need to look at our government agencies and make sure they are operating effectively and efficiently. She said we should start balancing the federal budget. She told the audience that we should look at Social Security and Medicare to see where we can start reducing these programs, and develop a long-term plan for handling the upcoming retiring generation.

Next, Schodorf said she had a plan for national economic development and growth, saying first that we need a balanced budget amendment. She said that the bipartisan commission on deficit reduction is really just a paper tiger, and what we really need are experts in different fields to work together to recommend how to reduce the deficit. She said the federal government needs to reduce its spending, recommending a 5% across-the-board cut if possible. She said we need to keep the Bush tax cuts in place.

Anderson told the audience that we need to reduce the size of government, starting with an overhaul of the tax system by replacing their current income tax with the FairTax. The fair tax, he said, is the best way to generate revenue for limited government, noting that the current tax code is the source of many of our problems. States should take care of their own needs, he added, and we should eliminate the system of earmark spending. He also said we need to look at each federal program, and if it is not constitutional, it should be eliminated.

Hartman said we need to get control of our government, and that one way to get started immediately would be a balanced budget amendment. He also believes in the FairTax. He said that 41 cents of every dollar government spends is borrowed and must be repaid at some time. The Bush tax cuts should be continued, he said, as they worked well once. He said he is also concerned about estate taxes, especially their impact on family farms. He said that a larger federal government has never — and will never — create jobs.

Pompeo said that growing the economy, creating a tax base that is broader and larger, is the first way that we can reduce the deficit. The second way is to reduce spending. He told the audience he supports eliminating earmarks, but noted that earmarks are a relatively small part of the budget. Entitlements, he said, are the real problem, and that we should start by repealing the recently enacted healthcare entitlement. On Social Security, Pompeo said he supports a plan developed by Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. For people 55 years of age and over, there would be no impact, he said, but benefits for younger people would be reduced, adding that the promised benefits may really be a false promise. On the federal Department of Education, Pompeo said it is incomprehensible to him that send a dollar to Washington, only to get $.64 back along with instructions on how to run our schools. He also said we should reduce capital gains taxes by at least 50%, to create an incentive for capital.

Analysis

Schodorf’s concern for spending and taxes must be balanced against her record in the Kansas Senate, which is a very liberal voting record. She voted for the big-spending budget this year, and voted to raise the statewide sales tax by one cent per dollar.

The FairTax, which many of these candidates support, is probably a better tax system than the system currently in place, but it does not address the issue of spending. According to FairTax.org, “Bottom line is that the 23% rate works it replaces the revenue generated by the repealed taxes, and maintains the real value of federal spending.” In other words, the FairTax is calibrated to provide the same revenue to government. For those looking to reduce the amount government takes in taxes — no matter what form — and to reduce government spending, the FairTax is not the solution.

The idea of eliminating federal programs that are not constitutional is also appealing to limited government advocates. The reality, however, is that every spending program that’s in place — with the exception of newly-passed legislation that hasn’t yet been challenged in the courts — has passed constitutional muster. The Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means, after all.

Hartman’s concern for federal estate taxes is well-placed, especially, as he noted, in Kansas, where many families’ assets are in the form of land and other agriculture assets.

Pompeo, as he has in other forums, said he supports the Paul Ryan plan, known as the Roadmap for America’s Future. This is a specific set of proposals promoted by Ryan, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee and a rising star among conservatives. The plan goes farther than Pompeo did regarding taxes on capital gains, recommending eliminating the tax on capital gains entirely.

Kansas fourth district Congressional campaign finance reports released

Campaign finance reports just released by candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas show one candidate largely self-financing a massive spending program, and allegations of another candidate being dependent on financing by PACs and lobbyists are not supported by facts.

The candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Here are the figures reported for the second quarter, the months of April, May, and June, 2010. Anderson’s report was not available as of late Thursday night.

                     Hartman  Pompeo  Rutschman  Schodorf
Contributions         16,062  279,317       80    20,900
Loans to campaign  1,056,600            30,000     7,000
Expenditures         928,385  267,413   24,464    27,712
Cash balance         179,292  444,515    5,616    17,105

Notes:

First, Hartman spent a lot of money, almost 3.5 times as much as the second-largest spender. My analysis of the campaign’s spending shows $739,110 spent on television advertising for the three months of the second quarter.

Nearly all of Hartman’s expenditures were financed by loans made by the candidate to the campaign. Of the $928,385 spent, only $16,062 (1.7 percent) was paid for by contributions.

Rutschman’s campaign reported a $30,000 loan to the campaign from the candidate.

Earlier this year a great deal of attention was paid to an April 20th fundraiser held in Washington DC on behalf of Mike Pompeo (Big D.C. names host Pompeo fundraiser, May 16, 2010 Wichita Eagle). Analysis of his contributions shows that for the second quarter, which covers the time period of this event, Pompeo received $15,000 in contributions from sources the FEC considers to be political action committees (PACs). This is about five percent of his contributions for the quarter.

There are a handful of contributions from individuals in the Washington DC area, totaling about $7,900, according my analysis. These people may or may not be lobbyists.

In an analysis of first quarter contributions from OpenSecrets.org, Pompeo’s contributions from PACs was three percent of his total contributions for that quarter.

These numbers are important because Pompeo’s opponents — both in the Eagle article and in their campaign advertising — raise the issue of a candidate being a “Washington insider” with extensive ties to PACs and lobbyists.

Kansas fourth district Congressional poll released, surprises within

KWCH Television in Wichita and SurveyUSA have released a poll of candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas. The poll, conducted July 11th through 13th, shows Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo maintaining a narrow lead over his chief rival, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman.

The support for both of the top two candidates, however, declined as Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf and Wichita businessman Jim Anderson picked up support.

The poll shows Pompeo at 32 percent, Hartman at 31 percent, Schodorf with 16 percent, and Anderson moving up to garner nine percent of the vote. Latham engineer Paij Rutschman registered one percent in her first appearance in a SurveyUSA poll.

Undecided voters were nine percent.

In analyzing the results, SurveyUSA noted that Schodorf has doubled her support over the past three weeks among women and self-described moderate voters. Further, “Today, Schodorf leads among moderates and among the relatively small number of GOP primary voters who oppose the tea party movement, and has effectively tied the front-runners among seniors, pro-choice voters, and those voters who do not own guns. Any outcome remains possible.”

These results are not surprising, as all along Schodorf, with her moderate positions, has set herself apart from the three male candidates, who are all self-described conservatives.

The truly surprising — I think we can safely say shocking — results were on the Democratic party side of this contest. Raj Goyle, whose campaign is expected to report a campaign fund balance of some $1.2 million when reports are filed later today, has fallen behind Robert Tillman. SurveyUSA reports Tillman polling 40 percent, while Goyle registers 36 percent. 24 percent are undecided.

In the same poll three weeks ago, Goyle led Tillman by 42 percent to 32 percent.

In the Democratic poll, SurveyUSA warns that this is “movement which may or may not be statistically significant.” But the fact that Tillman has been registering such a high percentage of support and is now in the lead must be a huge blow to the Goyle campaign.

These results are trouble for Democrats nationally, too. Goyle is one of 26 candidates showcased by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in its “Red to Blue” initiative.

Goyle started television advertising within the past week. Tillman, on the other hand, recently passed out business cards promoting his campaign, not having even the traditional glossy “palm card” for campaign literature. As of today no website for Tillman can be found, although I have noticed yard signs for his campaign.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll resultsKansas fourth Congressional district poll results

Update: A Wichita Eagle profile of Tillman is at Tillman running for Congress to support President Obama’s policies. A profile of Goyle is at Goyle pushes bipartisan solutions.

Kansas fourth district poll shows Pompeo lead, Hartman drop

A new poll of candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas shows Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo maintaining a lead over his chief rival, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman.

The poll, produced by Oklahoma City consulting firm Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates on behalf of the Pompeo campaign and conducted July 6th through 8th, shows Pompeo leading Hartman 27 percent to 21 percent.

While other recent polling has shown Pompeo’s support increasing, this poll is the first that shows a decline in Hartman’s support. That decline, according to the Pompeo poll, has taken place since the end of May, when the campaign had a previous survey conducted.

These results are largely compatible with polls conducted by SurveyUSA, an independent agency not connected with any campaigns. These polls showed Pompeo increasing his numbers rapidly after starting in a near-tie with Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf and Kansas Senator Dick Kelsey, who has since withdrawn from the race for family reasons.

Conducted near the end of June, the SurveyUSA poll showed Pompeo and Hartman in a statistical tie, with numbers far above the other candidates. A June poll released by the Schodorf campaign showed Pompeo and Hartman in the lead, but with a larger number of undecided voters than other polls showed.

As with all such polls, we need to remember that polls produced and released by campaigns are just that, and the results would probably not be released by a campaign if the results did not portray the candidate favorably.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll resultsKansas fourth Congressional district poll results

The candidates for this nomination and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

The Hartman clean campaign pledge: Pompeo response

In the contest for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman has run many advertisements making an issue of a clean campaign pledge. He’s signed it, and says that leading rival Mike Pompeo won’t sign it.

I asked Rodger Woods, manager of the Pompeo campaign, why his candidate didn’t sign the pledge. Woods mentioned two reasons.

First, Woods said that the meaning of the word “clean” is subjective. He said that Pompeo has committed to running a truthful campaign, the meaning of which is not subjective, noting that “truth” and “factual” do not appear in the Hartman pledge.

Second, Woods said that the purpose of primary elections is the find the best candidate. The tone of Hartman’s pledge, he said, is that Republicans are best served by not bringing up certain sets of issues.

Woods said that Pompeo has been committed from the start to being truthful, and he is satisfied that the campaign is fulfilling that commitment. A recent Pompeo press release stated “To date, no Mike Pompeo ad has mentioned any opponent. All Pompeo advertising has been built around Mike Pompeo’s positive record and the issues facing voters.” By my observation, this appears to be true.

Woods didn’t say this, but sometimes these clean campaign pledges are used to neutralize or deflect negative information that is about to be revealed. In this case, Hartman promoted his pledge shortly before issues of his controversial Florida residency and Florida voting were made public. (Hartman’s Florida voting was first reported in my story Hartman, candidate for Congress from Kansas, recently voted in Florida.) If a rival candidate were to mention inconvenient facts, it allows the other campaign to make allegations of dirty campaigning.

Facts, even unpleasant, need to be aired during primary election campaigns, I believe. Better for both parties to deal with them then rather than during the general election contest.

While Pompeo did not sign the pledge, that shouldn’t stop Hartman from living up to its standards, if he chooses to. But recently Hartman started running a television advertisement that lives up to all the worst expectations of negative campaigning.

It uses — as is standard practice in negative attack ads — unflattering images of the opponent. After quoting a leftist Kansas blog when it declared “Pompeo has thrown the first ugly punch,” the announcer states “No big surprise. Pompeo worked in Washington DC as a lawyer before moving to Kansas.”

The fact is that Pompeo worked in Washington for three years after graduating from law school. While Hartman’s ad is factually correct, this is the type of attempt at a backhanded compliment that most people would agree violates a plank of Hartman’s clean campaign pledge: “2. Treat Republican opponents with respect by focusing campaign advertisements on our own campaign’s vision for Kansas; this includes not mentioning fellow Republicans negatively in television or radio commercials.”

Hartman’s ad continues with the announcer stating “And the Pompeo record on jobs? He took Kansas jobs to Mexico. That’s right: took Kansas jobs to Mexico.”

Pompeo has stated that when the company he managed, Thayer Aerospace, opened a facility in Mexico, the Mexican plant was a condition of a contract with a customer. The Mexico jobs were new jobs, not jobs previously held by Kansans that were transferred to Mexico.

The ad concludes with “Mike Pompeo: just another Washington insider we can’t trust.” While there is no specific definition of “Washington insider,” at least one of Pompeo’s policy positions and his past action is in direct opposition to what “insiders” want: term limits.

In a speech to the Wichita Pachyderm Club last November, Pompeo told of his efforts, working pro bono, in favor of an effort in Arkansas of that state placing its federal office holders under term limits. I also reported “On term limits, Pompeo said he would like to see a constitutional amendment for term limits, but he would not make a personal pledge to limit his own service.”

Along with most of the other candidates in this contest — including Hartman — Pompeo opposes earmarks, another favorite Washington “insider” perk.

Hartman’s ad, besides going against the spirit and letter of his clean campaign pledge, also starts to drag the fourth district campaign down into the type of negative campaign that voters say they dislike. The other candidates besides Hartman and Pompeo in the race have not raised enough campaign funds to do any television or other widespread advertising.

The candidates and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Schodorf poll shows closer Kansas fourth district contest

Last week’s poll concerning the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas showed Mike Pompeo making big gains to slightly overtake Wink Hartman, with Jean Schodorf and Jim Anderson far behind. A striking feature of that survey was the low number of undecided voters, just eight percent.

Now Schodorf has released a poll with results that, while producing the same ordering of candidates, show a closer race between the top three candidates, with a much larger number of undecided voters. The results, along with the SurveyUSA results from last week, are as follows:

            Schodorf Poll    SurveyUSA
Pompeo          20%              39%
Hartman         19%              37%
Schodorf        14%               9%
Anderson         2%               6%
Not sure        45%               8%

Schodorf’s poll was conducted on June 18 and 19, while the SurveyUSA study announced last week was conducted from June 21 through 23.

SurveyUSA included 609 respondents who SurveyUSA determined to be likely voters in the August primary election. Its 95 percent certainty interval is 4.1 percent. The Schodorf effort, according to the press release, consisted of 400 personal interviews conducted with a 95% level of confidence. No interval was given for that confidence level.

Jayhawk Consulting Services conducted the poll for the Schodorf campaign.

The SurveyUSA poll starts with a Random Digit Dialed (RDD) sample provided by a third party. Respondents are then asked questions to determine if they are likely primary voters. In an email response from candidate Schodorf, she said that her poll included only voters who voted in two of the last three primary elections. This information can be determined from publicly-available voter records.

The press release for the Schodorf campaign poll criticizes the methodology SurveyUSA uses in its polls. According to Jim Yonally, president of the polling firm: “We use well-educated adults, who are experienced callers. We talk to people one on one to get a better feel for what they are thinking. It’s my understanding the media poll uses a recorded voice to ask questions.”

SurveyUSA feels that its automated response polls are accurate and publishes a report card of its results compared to other polling firms. An interview with Jay Leve, SurveyUSA CEO, provides more insight into SurveyUSA and its methods. He would not comment on this specific poll and the criticisms leveled by Schodorf’s pollster.

The Republican Party candidates and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Kansas fourth district Congressional poll shows big change, surprise

Updated and expanded since last night’s story.

A just-released poll shows that the race for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas has changed dramatically since the last poll in February.

The February poll showed Wichita businessman Wink Hartman with a large lead over Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf, and Kansas Senator Dick Kelsey, who has since withdrawn due to family health problems. Wichita businessman Jim Anderson was further behind.

Now Pompeo has edged Hartman slightly, polling 39 percent to Hartman’s 37 percent. These two candidates have separated themselves from the rest of the field and are in a virtual tie, as the margin separating the two is well within the poll’s margin of sampling error of 4.1 percent.

The poll indicates that only eight percent of voters are undecided, a low number compared to other Kansas polls. In a poll conducted at the same time for the Kansas first district Republican nomination, 16 percent are undecided. In a May poll for the Kansas Republican Party nomination for United States Senate, 15 percent were undecided.

This low number of undecided voters is not good news for the Anderson and Schodorf campaigns, as both have a lot of ground to make up in a short time to catch the two leaders. The primary election is August 3rd, with advance ballots starting to be mailed on July 14th. The deadline for registering to vote or changing party affiliation is July 19th.

Some interesting results from the pool include these observations:

For voters self-identified as “conservative,” Pompeo leads Hartman 41 percent to 40 percent. For “liberal” voters it was Pompeo over Hartman by 33 percent to 20 percent. Schodorf, who is set off from the other candidates by her moderate voting record and positions, could garner only 18 percent of these self-identified liberal voters. 20 percent were undecided.

Among women, Schodorf increases her vote from nine percent to 11 percent. In this category, Hartman leads Pompeo 37 percent to 35 percent.

For voters who have a favorable opinion of the tea party movement, Pompeo outpolled Hartman 42 percent to 39 percent. Anderson, who has described himself as the tea party candidate, trailed with seven percent.

Pompeo edged Hartman among pro-life voters and gun owners by three and four percentage points respectively.

A question this poll can’t answer is whether Pompeo’s upward trajectory is likely to continue. The Hartman campaign started advertising on television early, which surely contributed to his lead in the February poll. By the time of that poll, it was estimated by one source that he had spent over $200,000 on television advertising.

The Pompeo campaign has not lacked for money. Campaign finance reports for March 31 showed that it had raised $606,274 and had $432,611 on hand. (At that time the Hartman campaign had spent $307,871.) If the Pompeo campaign’s strategy was to conserve funds and wait until closer to the election to start television advertising, the strategy appears to be working.

It has been thought that the best chance for a Schodorf victory was for her to take advantage of the two characteristics that separate her from the other candidates — her gender and her moderate or liberal positions. (The recent entry of Paij Rutschman in the race provides another alternative for voters wanting to vote for a female candidate, but Rutschman polled only one percent.)

But with Schodorf barely increasing her total among woman voters, and trailing both Hartman and Pompeo among self-described liberal voters, it appears that this strategy is not working.

A surprise in this poll is on the Democratic side. In this contest Raj Goyle has been presumed to be the sure victor, as his campaign has raised, by now, surely over one million dollars and is receiving national attention. His opponent, Robert Tillman (no website can be found), is running for office for the first time. He hadn’t filed any campaign finance reports as of the end of March, presumably because he had raised little or no money.

But the poll shows Goyle with only 42 percent of the vote, and Tillman with 32 percent. 26 percent are undecided. This is an unexpectedly close result.

The candidates for the Republican Party nomination (and their campaign websites) are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.

Kansas fourth Congressional district poll results

Kansas fourth district Congressional candidates answer individual questions

Last week’s forum of candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas featured a set of questions tailored individually for each of the four candidates who participated.

The candidates for this nomination (and their campaign websites) are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf. Election filing records maintained by the Kansas Secretary of State indicate that Paij Rutschman of Latham has filed for the Republican Party nomination, but little is known about this candidate at this time, and Rutschman did not appear at this event.

Hartman answered his question first. The question and his response are covered in my article Hartman state tax issue still a little bit murky.

Anderson’s question asked when was the last time he voted in any primary election. Anderson answered “2008, I believe.” He added that “the primary is the most is the most important election” and that he would defeat Raj Goyle in the general election. He asked the audience to examine the candidates, their history, what they’ve done, and how they’ve conducted themselves.

He used the opportunity to recommend voters choose a candidate who will follow the Constitution, “the one in my pocket that they’re not using right now in Washington.”

Schodorf was asked about the recently-passed tough Arizona immigration law. Would you support such a law? Schodorf said that she understood why Arizona enacted the law, saying Arizona was forced to do it due to the federal government’s inaction. She said the federal government should have been enforcing a strong border. She said we need to help Mexico keep the border safe so that guns, drugs, people, and money do not come here. She told the audience she has voted for tough laws against the trafficking of illegal immigrants.

She added that she supports using the National Guard to secure the border.

Pompeo’s question concerned a Wichita Eagle article covering a Washington fundraiser for him that was attended by lobbyists. Would lobbyist contributions affect your voting, and how would we know?

Pompeo noted that he had four times as many Kansas contributors as the other candidates combined, a source of pride for him. While he said he has accepted contributions from political action committees, other candidates also sought such contributions, but were not successful in obtaining them. He cited his endorsement by the Kansans for Life PAC, which was sought by the other pro-life candidates for the nomination. He also mentioned his endorsement by the Club for Growth, which was sought by one of the other candidates, he said.

In rebuttal, Anderson said that yes, PAC money will affect decisions and votes, that PACs want favors from legislators.

Analysis

In checking the candidates’ responses, I was not able to verify that Anderson voted in the August 2008 primary election in Sedgwick County. In an email response to my question, Anderson wrote that he “truly wasn’t sure if I had voted in the 2008 Primary as I was deeply involved in opening my business, PostNet.” He’s right: listening to the recording of the forum, he was hesitant in his answer.

Regarding contributions from political action committees, I would recommend that voters consider the purpose or goal of each PAC. If the goal of the PAC is to increase taxes and spending — particularly when for the exclusive benefit of its members — voters should take that into account if they are interested in fiscally conservative candidates. Other PACs and organizations like the Club for Growth seek growth, prosperity, and economic freedom for everyone equally.

Kansas fourth district Congressional candidate forum

Last night the candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas squared off in a ninety-minute forum at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Wichita.

The candidates for this nomination (and their campaign websites) are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf. Election filing records maintained by the Kansas Secretary of State indicate that Paij Rutschman of Latham has filed for the Republican Party nomination, but little is known about this candidate at this time, and Rutschman did not appear at this event.

Former television new anchor Anita Cochran was the moderator. The event was broadcast live on radio station KQAM 1410, “The Big Talker.”

The forum started with opening statements by the candidates.

Mike Pompeo, June 16, 2010Mike Pompeo

Pompeo said, as he often does, that “Washington DC has fundamentally lost its way. There are elected officials there no longer connected to Kansas in the way we all know they need to be.” He traced his biography: Growing up in Southern California, attending West Point and serving in the Army, then attending Harvard Law School and working three years as a lawyer. He came to Wichita to start an aerospace company that he said grew to one of the five largest aircraft subcontracting companies. Today he runs Sentry International, a company that services the oilfield industry.

He told the audience that “the candidates sometimes sound like they’re saying about the same thing. But listen closely — we could not be more different.”

Wink Hartman, June 16, 2010Wink Hartman

Hartman that he is the “only Kansan in the race.” He said he was born and raised in Wichita, graduating from Southeast High School and working his way through Wichita State University. He said he had a “multitude of jobs” including painting houses, selling trashcans door-to-door, and repossessing cars.

Hartman told the audience “I am a businessman. I am not a politician. I’m not trying to build a political resume.” He said he has learned to balance a budget, meet a payroll, and how to work with increasing government regulation and taxes. He said he has created thousands of jobs in this community for over four decades. He promoted his business success as a key qualification.

Jim Anderson, June 16, 2010Jim Anderson

In his opening remarks Anderson said “I am an American.” He said he has been an airline pilot for 25 years, bringing both commercial and corporate aviation experience and business management experience to this race. “I am the leader out in front to reform government with a Fair Tax, a balanced budget amendment, term limits — the only one fighting for term limits — and a pledge to this community, to this district, for no earmarks.”

He told the inaudible that the Constitution begins with “We the people,” not “We the government.” The government has no right to confiscate our money, dictate morals, and decide on health care. He said he is the tea party candidate.

Jean Schodorf, June 16, 2010Jean Schodorf

Schodorf told the audience that she and her opponents are all Republicans, working to get the nomination. She held up as sign reading “JOBS!” and said that the fourth district has the highest unemployment rate in the state. People are hurting in both urban and rural districts, she said, and she wants to go to Congress to end the recession. She want to work with state and local government to bring back economic development and recovery.

She said she is a native of Independence, although she was born on a military base in North Carolina. She said she wants to bring the tanker contract back, and wants to bring back jobs from Mexico. Her experience in the Kansas Senate and background in education will help her “hit the ground running,” she said.

The first question directed at all candidates had to do with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Has it changed your view on drilling in deep waters in the Gulf? The need for energy independence was stressed by all candidates except Schodorf. She recommended that all oil companies voluntarily stop drilling until safety plans are reviewed and approved.

The second question asked about policies that should be changed or implemented to increase the creation of private sector jobs.

Answering first, Hartman said he has experience in this area. He said the current income tax structure limits the ability of business to grow and that the Fair Tax should be discussed. He added that regulation places a burden on business, and that regulation must be reduced.

Anderson said that the Fair Tax is the “bottom line,” adding that government controls us through the tax code.

Schodorf said she is the only candidate who has voted on taxes, listing several business tax cuts she had voted for in the Kansas Senate over the years. She supports keeping the Bush tax cuts in place. She said that our representative in Congress and the state need to work together to create incentives for business to locate in Kansas, saying that we will be competing with other states for jobs.

Pompeo pointed to his manufacturing experience and how government works to discourage jobs. Government bureaucrats, he said, are not interested in seeing that we are competitive. He criticized the statewide sales tax increase in Kansas. He said that the U.S. has the second-highest corporate income tax rate in the world, which discourages job creation.

Another question: Are there any parts of the recently-passed health care law that you agree with and want to see implemented?

Answering first, Anderson said we should repeal the law because it is unconstitutional, adding that nowhere does the Constitution give government the right to mandate the purchase of health care. Nothing in the plan benefits citizens, he said, adding that tort reform along with the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines is needed. “Let the free market drive the product, and you’ll get a good product at a low price.”

Schodorf said that she liked the portion of the law that prohibits companies to refuse insurance to those with per-existing conditions. The ability of people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26 would keep a pool of healthy people in the insurance pool.

Pompeo said we don’t know what’s in the bill, and that it was a “travesty” the people voted for the bill without knowing. He said it was “radically undemocratic” and rejected the will of the people. Competition always drives improvement in quality and price, and this factor needs to be introduced into the health insurance marketplace.

Hartman said the bill will limit access to quality health care, pointing to poor quality health care in Canada. He recommended tort reform and personal ownership of health insurance policies.

On a foreign policy question relating to the recent incident involving a Turkish ship, candidates agreed that Israel is a friend of America and deserves our support. Pompeo said that Obama’s policies “make our enemies closer” and pushes our friends away, adding that we need to make sure people know America will protect its national security interests. Hartman said Israel is a stabilizing force and has the right, as does America, to defend itself against all enemies. Anderson said the American President should send a message that this behavior will not be tolerated, and that Israel is our friend.

A question asked about the honesty of politicians.

Answering first, Pompeo said that not all politicians are dishonest, but that too many go to Washington and become corrupted by the power. He said that voters should realize that politicians will behave in office like they run their campaigns, so we should ask candidates to tell the truth. If candidates say things that do not match the facts, voters should “call them on it at every turn.”

Hartman said he can’t answer that question, as he’s not a politician. He said that when you elect the same people, you should not expect different results. Politicians drink the Kool-aid when they “go across the river,” saying that they no longer represent you,instead representing personal and special interest groups that have supported them.

Anderson said we need to look closely at who we are electing, noting that some candidates have accepted money from political action committees and from lobbyists. He echoed Hartman in saying that we shouldn’t send “the same people” back to Washington.

Schodorf said she has worked for the people of Kansas in her job in the Kansas Senate. She added that voters should look at what candidates believe in, and who they work for.

During a break for radio commercials, moderator Cochran stood behind each candidate to give their supporters a chance to show their support. Pompeo supporters cheered the loudest.

After the break, candidates answered a question directed to them individually. These questions will be covered in another story.

A question asked about whether the recession has changed the candidates’ personal or public spending on credit. Answering first, Anderson said the federal government must balance its budget and that its spending habits must change, starting with an overhaul of the tax system.

Schodorf said that personally she has been saving money and paying off bills. She said the federal government needs a balanced budget amendment to force it to balance its budget as the state of Kansas must. She supports a bi-partisan commission to find ways to cut spending and cut the deficit.

Pompeo said the problems we have today have been caused in large part by bad government decision-making, using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as examples. He said that regulators are telling banks that they want them to make loans, but the regulators behave differently.

Hartman said we need to do something about our $13 trillion in debt. More spending will not create prosperity and solve problems, he said, citing the failure of the stimulus program and “cash for clunkers.” He added that we need to shrink the size of government and take a look at the Fair Tax. He said that the amount of federal government debt held by China is a problem.

The candidates each made a closing statement of up to one minute. Going first, Schodorf said she is running for Congress to bring back jobs and economic development. She said she believes in helping senior citizens, the disabled, and our kids. She said the Republican Party needs to be a big tent party, and a party of solutions, not the party of “no.” She said we need to bring sense to government.

Anderson referred to Ronald Reagan’s contention that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction, and that it must be fought for by each generation. Our country is in trouble, he told the audience, and he said that he is the common sense conservative candidate.

Hartman said that can show something that no one else can: his record of success in the community in creating good-paying jobs.

Pompeo said that we live in the greatest nation in history, but we are on the brink of losing that. He said it is immoral and wrong for Washington to spend the money of the next generation. The federal government has just a few tasks, such as keeping us safe and protecting every human life. Then, he said government should get out of the way.

Notes

The event was well-attended, with almost 400 tickets collected. Many more may have gained entrance without a ticket. Candidates had tables in the lobby with literature.

While Cochran did a good job keeping the event on schedule, not all in the audience were pleased with her demeanor. There was one gaffe in particular that was offensive: Schodorf was answering a question and remarked as her time ran out that she forgot something she meant to say. Cochran interjected “Sometimes Alzheimer’s kicks in right at the right time,” adding that she was “not kidding, that Alzheimer’s is horrible.”

During the intermission for radio commercials moderator Cochran let the crowd indicate its support for each candidate by cheering. Pompeo seemed to be the crowd favorite by a large margin. This was not a scientific poll, but an indication of the sentiment of those in the audience.

During the forum, Schodorf twice held up a sign reading “JOBS!” saying she’d just been to a rally. That rally was sponsored by union members, and its purpose was protesting the outsourcing of jobs by Wichita manufacturers (See Aviation workers rally to protest outsourcing.) During this forum Schodorf mentioned returning jobs from Mexico.

The issue of job creation is important to two of the candidates who promote their business experience as qualifications for this position. Two remarks should be noted: First, business and government are two very different fields. The businessman is motivated by profit; indeed, profit is the measure of success. But government has no ability to profit, and thereby no such yardstick.

Second, to a business, jobs are are a cost that is to be minimized. There are not many businessmen who create jobs just for the sake of creating jobs. Instead, they hire workers because there is work to be done, and if that work is done, profit will be (hopefully) generated. This is not to minimize the accomplishments of Hartman and Pompeo, as both have been successful in business and are to be commended for that. But claims that job creation is the reason for a business’s existence must be questioned.

While Anderson has not had the same type of business management and entrepreneurial experience as Hartman and Pompeo, the responsibility of being the captain of a jet airliner with several hundred passengers on board is not a trivial experience.

Additional coverage from State of the State KS is at Anderson, Hartman, Pompeo and Schodorf Answer Tough Questions in Debate at Wichita’s Orpheum Theatre.

Schodorf – Goyle race might feature reversed roles

If Jean Schodorf captures the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, the general election contest against likely Democratic Party nominee Raj Goyle might feature a reversal of commonly-held roles.

That’s because in this year’s session of the Kansas Legislature, Schodorf, as a Kansas Senator, voted for the budget bill that increased spending and required an increase in taxes to support the spending. In this case, the main source of increased taxation is the one cent per dollar increase in the statewide sales tax that will go into effect on July 1.

At about the same time, as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, Goyle voted against both bills. Only one other House Democrat voted against the budget bill.

The usual case, of course, is that Democrats favor increased taxing and spending, while Republicans are generally opposed.

During this year’s legislative session school spending advocates said that schools have “cut to the bone,” and that without increased school spending, Kansas schoolchildren would suffer. Similar claims were made for people dependent on social services from the state. Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, agreed. He proposed the spending and sales tax increase (and a cigarette tax increase) in his state of the state address in January, and aggressively promoted both during the session.

So it would be interesting to see how Goyle would explain his votes to the usual Democrat constituencies such as, say, the Kansas National Education Association (or KNEA), the teachers union.

More evidence of the reversal of the usual positions of candidates from the two parties comes from analysis of votes during the recently-completed legislative session. In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, Schodorf scored 18%, resulting in a tie for 27th place among the 40 Kansas Senators. In the House, Goyle’s votes earned a score much more supportive of principles of economic freedom. He scored 67%, ranking 47th in a field of 125 members of the Kansas House.

On scorecards produced by Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, things again are upside-down. Schodorf’s rating was 25%, while Goyle scored a rating of 60%, which is more in align with AFP’s promotion of limited government and free markets.

Schodorf’s votes are not out of line with her history. Goyle’s votes this year are more conservative than his past votes, leading us to wonder if there was a bit of election-year window-dressing going on as Goyle prepared for his campaign for Congress.

Kansas fourth district Congressional candidates to debate

On Wednesday June 16th the candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas will debate.

Former television news anchor Anita Cochran will be the moderator.

Interest in this election and the candidates appears to be increasing as the calendar advances towards the election. By the time of this debate, the August 3rd primary election is just seven weeks away, with election offices starting to mail advance ballots on July 14th. The last day to register to vote or to change party affiliation for the primary election is July 19th.

The event will be held at the Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway in Wichita. Doors open at 6:00 pm with the debate starting at 7:00 pm. Tickets are available at a number of locations; see www.sedgwickcountygop.com for locations. Sponsors of this event include the Sedgwick County Republican Party, the Big Talker 1480 KQAM radio, and the Wichita Pachyderm Club.

The candidates for this nomination (and their campaign websites) are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf. Election filing records maintained by the Kansas Secretary of State indicate that Paij Rutschman of Latham has filed for the Republican Party nomination, but little is known about this candidate at this time, and Rutschman will not be appearing at this event.

In Kansas fourth district, debates reveal differences

In this article, Wendy Aylworth of Wichita takes a look at candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas and their responses to questions at several candidate forums. In particular, she examines the candidates and their attitudes towards free trade.

The well-known candidates for this nomination (and their campaign websites) are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf. Election filing records maintained by the Kansas Secretary of State indicate that Paij Rutschman of Latham has filed for the Republican Party nomination, but little is known about this candidate at this time, and no website is available.

Aylworth supports the campaign of candidate Mike Pompeo.

Part one: Flip-flops, free markets, and NAFTA

Are you getting a good chuckle yet when listening to the forums featuring the candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District seat? If you haven’t yet, you’ll find a few here for your enjoyment.

We’ll look at the changes in the candidates over the various forums and appearances.

The positions of three of the candidates appear similar on the surface, but their explanations and tone of voice often reveal whether the candidate has a real grasp of the topic. Three of the four candidates claim to be in favor of limiting the scope of government and shrinking it down to only the powers granted it in the Constitution, yet the answers given by these same candidates reveal a conflicting ideology.

Have there been flip-flops by the candidates? Yes.

Continue reading In Kansas fourth district, debates reveal differences

Pompeo story needs correction, analysis

A Wichita Eagle news story concerning a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas has sparked controversy for its reporting of some factual issues, and also for its coverage of the politics surrounding the campaign.

The story (Big D.C. names host Pompeo fundraiser, May 16 Wichita Eagle) reports on a fundraising event held in Washington DC for Mike Pompeo. The event was held at the home of Robert “Bud” McFarlane, and was attended by, according to the Eagle article, “former federal officials, lobbyists, consultants and political action committees.”

Readers with long memories may have trouble with the Eagle story when it reports “He [McFarlane] was convicted of lying to Congress about the administration’s plan to sell arms to Iran and divert proceeds to the Contras, a guerrilla movement then waging war against the leftist government in Nicaragua.” As a guest on KPTS public affairs television program “Kansas Week” on Friday, Dion Lefler, the author of the Eagle story, repeated the assertion that McFarlane was convicted of lying to Congress.

The actual facts are that McFarlane entered a guilty plea. He was not convicted, as reported by a contemporaneous New York Times story: “Robert C. McFarlane, President Reagan’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty today to four misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress and agreed to serve as a prosecution witness in the criminal investigation of the Iran-contra affair.” (“McFarlane admits withholding data on aid to contras,” March 12, 1988 New York Times.)

There’s a distinction between being convicted of a crime and pleading guilty. While some may view it as a distinction without a difference, it was certainly important at the time, and is part of the historical record.

The Eagle story also reports on McFarlane’s current involvement in Sudan, specifically with the people of the Darfur region of that country. The United States has called the actions of the Sudanese government against these people genocide. In the Eagle story, congressional candidate and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf noted that the Kansas legislature voted to divest the state of any business interests with Sudan. McFarlane, however, disputes the contention that he is working for the government of Sudan. Based on her interview with McFarlane, State of the State KS’s Rebecca Zepick reported: “McFarlane said he was disappointed the story was virtually wrong in all elements about his testimony on the arms sale deal and on his work overseas. McFarlane says he works to coach the tribal leaders of Darfur, often the victims of ethnic cleansing, as they prepare to negotiate a peace agreement with the central government.” (Former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane Speaks Out On Support for Mike Pompeo, State of the State KS, May 17.)

The politics of the article deserve discussion, such as the role of lobbyists at the fundraising event, and in the campaign in general. Pompeo’s opponents have criticized him for accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists. Part of the problem we have is understanding and even appreciating the role of lobbyists both at the federal and the state government levels. I spent quite a bit of time in Topeka this spring observing the Kansas legislature and surrounding activity, and I came to understand the role of lobbyists more clearly. While it’s true that the popular perception of lobbying — described by one writer as “sinister influence peddling by pressure groups with reckless disregard for the general welfare” — contains an element of truth and is an important area of concern, lobbyists do play useful roles.

For one, lobbyists play a useful role in gathering and transmitting information to their clients and others. While this is also the job of the news media, many clients require more detailed and specific information and analysis of what’s happening in the legislature or Congress as it regards their interests.

Second, many lobbyists are simply trying to protect their clients from harm. They are not necessarily seeking anything from government except to not be harmed.

I also observed times where legislators rely upon lobbyists for technical abilities such as analyzing the effect of a change to legislation on the insurance industry, for example.

While advocates of limited government such as myself wish for a day when government is so inconsequential that lobbying is neither necessary nor productive, that day is not here. In fact, with the actions and policies of the Obama Administration — Bush’s too, for that matter — government is becoming larger and more intrusive, meaning that lobbyists are going to play a role.

To simply pretend that lobbying does not exist is naïve and does not take into account the realities of the current political environment. Further, while one of Pompeo’s opponents, Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf, has apparently not received contributions from lobbyists or political action committees in her campaign for the nomination for Congress, she has accepted many such contributions for her Kansas senate campaigns.

Examination of Schodorf’s campaign finance reports from the last time she ran for office (her campaign for the Kansas Senate in 2008) shows that she received campaign contributions from many political action committees. Some of these PACs are controlled by groups such as the Kansas National Education Association (the teachers union) that also extensively lobby the Kansas legislature for increased spending — which Schodorf accommodates, as she did in the current legislative session. She voted for a budget that increased state spending partly for schools, and voted for the bill that raised the state’s sales tax to pay for the spending.

A further issue that deserves discussion is the source of campaign contributions. The story itself — certainly the quotes from Pompeo’s opponents — paints a picture of Pompeo raising large sums of money from Washington sources. In a phone conservation, Pompeo said that this characterization is not accurate, that over 80% of the money he’s raised is from Kansas. While the other Republican candidates have not raised much money from outside Kansas, one candidate has: Democrat Raj Goyle, the likely opponent for the Republican nominee in the November general election.

For Goyle, the proportion of in-state versus out-of-state contributions is roughly reversed from Pompeo’s. A quick analysis performed by myself on Goyle’s campaign contributions through March 31 showed 33% of the dollars coming from donors in Kansas. The remaining donations came from donors outside of Kansas. This analysis is confirmed by analysis available at the website OpenSecrets.org, which showed Goyle’s campaign contributions from Kansas at 32% of his total.

The same analysis from OpenSecrets.org showed that for the Pompeo campaign, 82% of contributed funds came from donors within Kansas, with 18% from outside of Kansas.

Interestingly, the OpenSecrets.org analysis showed that the leading metropolitan area that has contributed to Goyle is the Washington DC area, with donors there having contributed about $149,000 to his campaign. The Wichita metro area was just behind at $148,000.

For the Pompeo campaign, donors in the Wichita metro area contributed $434,000. The next metropolitan area was Chicago at $16,500, and contributions from the Washington metro area were just below $10,000. For Pompeo, this figure does not include contributions from the fund-raising event that is the subject of the Wichita Eagle article.

While Pompeo is not running against Goyle at this time, the Wichita Eagle has shown a tendency to paint Goyle in the best way possible for someone running for Congress in a fairly conservative district. My post Raj Goyle is not moderate or conservative, even for a Democrat highlighted the Eagle’s characterization of Goyle as a blue dog Democrat, meaning a fiscally conservative Democrat. Such a description would be helpful to Goyle in his campaign against the eventual Republican nominee.

As my story reported, “fiscally conservative” does not describe Goyle’s past voting record in the Kansas House of Representatives, although this year Goyle voted in a more conservative way. In my new edition of the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, Goyle scores quite well, better than 30 Republican members of the House. Voters will have to judge for themselves whether this change in voting represents a true change in Goyle’s governing philosophy or is merely election-year posturing.

In the end, the criticism leveled at Pompeo by his election opponents as a Washington insider may simply be a reaction to his success at fundraising not only in Washington but elsewhere. Eagle reporter Lefler, again speaking on the most recent Kansas Week, said “The real irony in all of this, is that four five years ago, having an event like this would have been an absolute plus for a candidate. This was the kind of thing that that showed you have the gravitas to actually go to Washington and actually get some things done.”

Schodorf to address Pachyderms

This Friday Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf will address members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm club. Schodorf is also a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, along with Jim Anderson, Mike Pompeo, and Wink Hartman. Raj Goyle and Robert Tillman are candidates for the Democratic Party nomination.

All are welcome to attend Pachyderm club meetings. The program costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch including salad, soup, two main dishes, and ice tea and coffee. The meeting starts at noon, although it’s recommended to arrive fifteen minutes early to get your lunch before the program starts.

The Wichita Petroleum Club is on the ninth floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway (north side of Douglas between Topeka and Broadway) in Wichita, Kansas (click for a map and directions). Park in the garage just across Broadway and use the sky walk to enter the Bank of America building. Bring your parking garage ticket to be stamped and your parking fee will be only $1.00. There is usually some metered and free street parking nearby.

Wichita Collegiate Young Republicans to host debate

The following press release announces what should be an interesting event.

The Wichita Collegiate Upper School Young Republicans will be hosting the Republican candidates for the Kansas 4th Congressional District on Monday, April 26th. The debate will be held in Galichia Auditorium at the Upper School located at 1221 N. Webb Road; just south of 13th Street. The debate will start at 7:00 pm and run through 8:30 pm, with doors opening at 6:00 pm.

The debate will be moderated by WCS Young Republican leaders Abby Keleman and Carly Nelson. Questions have been generated from students and edited by the club’s faculty sponsor, Rodney Wren. Candidates will be given two minutes for opening statements, will be allowed one and a half minutes to answer questions, if a candidate is named in an answer they will have thirty seconds for rebuttal, and candidates will be given one minute for a closing statement.

Questions should be directed to either Miss Keleman at wcsyoungrepublicans@gmail.com or Mr. Wren at rwren@wcsks.com.

‘Ron Estes’ letter causes a stir

Yesterday the Wichita Eagle printed a letter from “Ron Estes” titled “Schodorf better.” As you might imagine, the letter promoted Jean Schodorf‘s candidacy for the Republican party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas.

Ordinarily such a letter would not be controversial, except in this case there is a prominent local political figure also named Ron Estes, and he didn’t write the letter. I’m referring to Ron Estes the Sedgwick County Treasurer. He’s also running for the Republican Party nomination for Kansas State Treasurer.

Compounding the confusion — and it’s really more than confusion at this point — is the fact that the Ron Estes who wrote the letter the Eagle published is almost certainly the same Ron Estes who is married to Ellen Estes, who is Schodorf’s campaign manager. There are no other registered voters in Sedgwick County with a name anything near “Ron Estes” other than these two.

I think that the Eagle should have included a notice that the Ron Estes who is promoting Jean Schodorf isn’t the Ron Estes who is county treasurer. It would have avoided a lot of confusion.

There’s also an issue of public policy related to the printing of this letter. Should the Wichita Eagle, when printing candidate endorsement letters, disclose formal connections between the letter writer and the candidate, such as the writer being the spouse of the campaign manager?

In 2008 I was co-manager of Karl Peterjohn’s campaign for the Sedgwick County Commission. Shortly before the election I submitted a letter rebutting criticism of Peterjohn to the Eagle, and it was printed without noting the connection between he and I. I can’t remember if I disclosed the connection to the Eagle when I submitted the letter. But the Eagle — at least the newsroom — was aware of the connection.

The “stir” referred to in the headline of this article comes from the fact that Ron Estes (the Sedgwick County Treasurer) is a conservative, and Jean Schodorf stands out in the field of fourth district congressional candidates in that she is not conservative, at least in the way the other candidates are.

But that’s not all. In a 2010 issue of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party newsletter, under the heading “Thank you to our 2009 contributors!” are the names “Ron and Ellen Estes.” This is the same Ellen Estes who is managing the campaign of a Republican for the U.S. Congress.

Even stranger, Ron Estes — husband of Ellen — is listed as having contributed $100 to Raj Goyle‘s congressional campaign last August.

Not only is Goyle a Democrat, he’s the likely Democratic Party nominee for the same office Jean Schodorf is campaigning for. In fairness, this contribution is dated just about the time Schodorf announced she was thinking about running for Congress.

Then, to add to the strangeness: Ellen Estes, the campaign manager for a Republican candidate for Congress, was registered to vote as a Democrat as of last August. She’s switched to Republican registration since then.

Now I believe a little party-crossing is good once in a while. Last year I volunteered service to the campaign of James Barfield for Wichita City Council. He’s a Democrat, although he is fiscally conservative, and that’s why I supported and volunteered for him.

But the Ron and Ellen Estes family’s close involvement with the Democratic Party, making contributions to both the party and candidates — Goyle and others — makes one wonder.

At Kansas Days, the fourth district Congressional campaign is on

At the annual Kansas Days festival in Topeka, the Kansas fourth district Republican candidates all hosted hospitality suites, looking to boost their chances with Kansas Republican voters. On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal ran an online piece titled Kansas GOP Could Be Its Own Worst Enemy, giving a run-down of the current political scene in Kansas.

Of particular interest to Kansas fourth district voters, the piece said this:

The Democrats’ best hope for retaining a seat in the Kansas delegation may be a two-term state legislator named Raj Goyle, who is running in the fourth district encompassing Wichita. On his Web site and in campaign literature, Mr. Goyle colors his first name blue and his last name red, emphasizes his concerns about the struggles facing businesses and avoids any mention of “Democrat.”

“I’m not a party label kind of guy,” said Mr. Goyle, a high-tech entrepreneur, Harvard-educated lawyer and Wichita native.

But his greatest advantage may be that he has no fewer than five Republicans campaigning for the chance to run against him — with more expected to enter the race by August.

(I looked at Goyle’s campaign site, and the article is correct: As far as I can tell, none of the material generated by the Goyle campaign mentions that he is a Democrat. You have to read a Wichita Eagle news story that the site reprints in order to learn his party affiliation.)

So on Saturday I individually asked the candidates about the article. Will a vigorously-contested Republican primary in August be an advantage for Goyle — assuming he is the Democratic nominee — in the November general election? Will Republicans spend all their money and energy in the primary?

In his hospitality suite Dick Kelsey said no, that the Republicans are committed to running a positive race. He said he’s running a positive campaign. Kelsey said that the Republicans will be broke after the primary, but that the party will be able to quickly raise the funds needed to run a campaign against Goyle, the likely Democratic nominee.

An operative from the Anderson campaign was spending time in the Kelsey hospitality room, and added that with a primary contest, the Republicans will be exercised. Kelsey added that Republicans will have made contacts and friendships.

At the Mike Pompeo hospitality suite, the candidate said we have a competitive primary, and that the winner will come out ready to go in the general election. He added that when Republicans start talking about Goyle and his liberal agenda, they’ll do fine in the election. Pompeo said he’s raised a lot of money, close to as much as Goyle, and the ability to raise funds is important.

In the Hartman suite, candidate Wink Hartman said it’s good for citizens to have an opportunity to select from five candidates, adding that it’s important to go through the political process to arrive at the best candidate. He mentioned the large amount of money that Goyle has raised from outside of Kansas, and that he believes that he is the only Republican candidate with the ability to raise the money necessary to win in the general election.

In the afternoon in the Jim Anderson hospitality suite, the candidate said the primary will energize and organize the Republicans. Besides the candidates, citizens are getting organized and are starting to pay attention to the issues. This will add to the strength of the candidate who wins the Republican primary.

Jean Schodorf said that a contested primary causes people to become more aware of the Republican candidates, because the Democratic candidate, not having an opponent to campaign against, doesn’t have a forum. She said that in the first debate, the Republican candidates stated publicly that they will all support the winner of the primary election in the general election. She thought that was very important, as she believes it is important to have a Republican follow Todd Tiahrt. Having five candidates makes it a healthy debate, she added.

Another Republican Congressional candidate forum

This Friday, January 22nd, the Sumner County Republican Party sponsors a forum for candidates for the Republican Party nomination for the United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas.

Due to a previous speaking engagement, candidate Wink Hartman will not appear at this event.

Doors open at 6:00 pm with the debate starting at 7:00 pm.
The location is Belle Plaine High School, 820 North Merchant Street in Belle Plain. Here’s a Google map of the location. Google says it’s 25 miles and a 33 minute drive from downtown Wichita.

Kansas funds have large, unneeded balances

Yesterday the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy released research that shows that the state of Kansas has large unencumbered balances, representing excess funds needlessly collected from Kansans in the form of taxes and fees.

The numbers are staggering, with over 1,600 state funds holding between $2 billion and $3 billion in excess balances, depending on the method used to determine reasonable balances.

The report, titled “Analysis of State Unencumbered Fund Balances in Kansas” was prepared by the accounting firm Anderson, Reichert & Anderson. The author, Steven J. Anderson, has extensive experience in government and its accounting. The report may be read by clicking on Analysis of State Unencumbered Fund Balances in Kansas.

Investigative journalist Paul Soutar’s reporting on this report may be read at Buried Treasure.

I spoke with Dave Trabert, president of the Flint Hills Center a few days ago about this research. He said that many state agencies have collected more fees than they have spent. These funds are considered “unencumbered.” That is, there is no claim on them. This doesn’t mean, however, that the state or agency can transfer or spend these funds in any way they want.

Trabert said that often money is held in funds that, by law, can’t be transferred into other funds and used, perhaps resulting in lower taxes for Kansans. But, he said “the same result can be accomplished by simply reducing the amount going into the fund and forcing the agency to spend down their surplus.”

The effect of this would be a reduction in taxes and fees that Kansans must pay. The amount of money involved is huge.

The Flint Hills Center used two methods to calculate how much money could have been returned to taxpayers since fiscal year 2003, a period of six years. One method estimated about $2 billion in excess funds that could have been returned. The other estimated about $3 billion. Both methods leave sufficient balances in these funds for the state to conduct its business.

In context, for a state that has a population of 2.8 million, these balances that could have been returned over this period amount to $1,071 per person, using the $3 billion figures. Or, for every household in Kansas, $2,890.

Where is this money, I asked Trabert. It’s in bank accounts, he said. Who is aware of this? Trabert said that some legislators have been stunned to learn of these balances.

There are people who know this money exists, Trabert said. But not everyone believes. In a KAKE television news story, Kansas senator Jean Schodorf, who is considering a run for the U.S. Congress, said she didn’t believe these numbers.

In the same report an official from Wichita State University gave the example of a student housing fund. Fees collected for that fund, she said, can be used only for student housing.

But if funds are accumulating in this fund and not being spent, this is strong evidence that too much money is being collected. The fees are too high.

What are the implications of this report, I asked Trabert. “As shocking as it is, it’s really good news. … We can get away from this either/or situation: Either we raise taxes, or we have to give up a lot of services. … We just need to figure out how to make better use of what we have. We can have lower taxes and good services.”

This analysis doesn’t include school districts, counties, or municipalities, except for a handful of cities that participate in a state-administered investment fund.

Kansas lawmakers and the governor, as well as the press, primarily focus on the state’s general fund. There’s a reason for that, as it is the single largest fund, and the fund over which the legislature and governor have the most immediate control. In contrast, the “All funds” budget — that’s where the funds that are the subject of this research are held — is often treated as something over which we have no control.

The general fund is about half the state’s total spending. This analysis by the Flint Hills Center shows that we need to pay more attention to the other half, and to the balances that are accumulating there.

Schodorf introduced bill to reduce notice of some bond sales

Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf, who is considering a run for the United States Congress, doesn’t have much regard for citizens’ right to know of impending sales of municipal bonds.

A bill, Senate bill 154 from the 2007 session and introduced by Schodorf, is cast in the usual legislative language, and therefore is difficult to understand. So I will quote from the Supplemental Note for Senate Bill 154 as follows:

“SB 154, as amended, would amend a provision of the general bond law governing the sale of municipal bonds by providing that a city would be allowed to issue up to $2.0 million in certain municipal bond sales before a published notice of sale would be required. … Under current law, a public notice of sale is required for municipal bond sales greater than $100,000.”

The effect of this proposed legislation introduced by Schodorf would be to let more bonds be sold without publication of notice. The bill died in the Kansas House of Representatives and did not become law.

The rationale given for allowing bonds to be sold without publication is that publication increases the cost of the bonds.

Publication also increases the ability of citizens to know what’s going on, too. I think that’s more important.

In the end, this legislation, if it had become law, might not have made much of a difference. The quaint practice of publishing legal notices in newspapers is likely to come to an end someday, replaced by email and websites.

On Facebook, the City of Wichita’s Government Relations Director Dale Goter left this comment to this article:

Bob, allow me to offer some corrections to your report. The bill, as earlier noted, was requested by the City of Wichita. As enacted, it provides for public notice. The purpose of the legislation was to LOWER special assessment costs, saving property owners money by creating a more competitve environment for certain bond issues. It was ultimately passed with overwhelming support in both houses. The final version also had the blessing of the Kansas Press Association. It is a great example of how cities work with the legislature to SAVE money for taxpayers and property owners.

Jean Schodorf’s education credentials

Kansas state senator Jean Schodorf, a Republican from northwest Wichita, is testing the waters in the race for the Republican nomination for Kansas’ fourth congressional district.

It appears that she’ll use her public education experience and advocacy as a selling point. As reported in today’s Wichita Eagle:

She has served in the Senate since 2001 and is chairwoman of the Education Committee, where she has developed a reputation for fighting in favor of schools and school funding.

At her Monday news conference, Schodorf was introduced by former state Board of Education member Carol Rupe, who served with her on the Wichita school board and was one of several current and former USD 259 officials in attendance.

When judging Schodorf’s record on education, we should keep in mind that when considering educational freedom, Kansas is one of the very worst states in the nation. Kansas has no charter schools to speak of. Any hope of a voucher or tax credit program is a faint and distant goal. This is all well and good, according to Schodorf, and she has a fair degree of influence over education in Kansas stemming from her role as the chair of the senate education committee.

Instead, the Kansas public school spending lobby seems to pretty much control the legislature and the governor’s chair. Yes, Kansas had to scale back on school spending this year. But schools fared much better than did other state agencies and spending lobbies. It’s a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans that allow this to happen. Schodof is one of these moderate Republicans, with several Democrats in the Senate possessing a more taxpayer-friendly voting record.

If Schodorf starts to talk about the many years of rising Kansas test scores, I hope she calls for an independent audit of those scores. This is needed so that Kansans can see for themselves whether these scores are a valid and reliable measure of student achievement. This is important because the results on the federal NAEP scores don’t support the rapid rise shown on the Kansas tests. See Are Kansas school test scores believable? for background.

Also, the public school monopoly and its supporters in Kansas — Schodorf being in this group — continue to dismiss a way to save Kansas a lot of money and improve educational freedom and results at the same time. As shown in my post School choice would save, not cost, Kansas, we can save money by implementing school choice programs.

Let’s ask presumptive candidate Schodorf some of these questions, and then judge the validity of her purported care and concern for the education of Kansas schoolchildren.

Jean Schodorf a candidate for Congress?

I just received a tweet from Jean Schodorf, a Republican member of the Kansas Senate from northwest Wichita:

“JeanSchodorf Special announcement regarding 4th Congressional District, 2day from 12-1 @ the Midtown Resource Center. 1150 N. Broadway. Lunch Provided”

Schodorf’s record in the senate is one of taxing and spending. In 2008, her rating by the Kansas Taxpayers Network was 29%. Several senate Democrats did better.

She’s also voted against legislation allowing the coal plant, although she did vote for the compromise bill.

So a question I have — seriously, sort of — is in which party she’ll choose to run.

What’s interesting to me is this question: Does this foreshadow an entrance by television newsman and producer Bill Kurtis (her brother) into the race for Kansas governor? He’s said no, he’s not interested.

Update: Wichita Eagle coverage is at Schodorf explores Congress run.