At an event this afternoon in Wichita, bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle — plus some Sam Brownback bashing — was the theme as outgoing Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson endorsed the team of Kansas Senator Tom Holland of Baldwin City and fellow Senator Kelly Kultala of Kansas City for the Democratic Party nomination for Kansas governor.
Parkinson, who became governor last year when Kathleen Sebelius took a position in the Obama cabinet, declined to seek election to his current office. The Holland/Kultala ticket will not face opposition on the August 3rd primary election ballot. The likely Republican nominees are Sam Brownback and Kansas Senator Jeff Colyer as lieutenant governor.
In his remarks, Parkinson said that Kansas has made “remarkable progress” in the last eight years in working through a recession, creating jobs, and “bringing people of all parties together.” He said that Holland would continue that work.
He told the audience that Holland is a successful businessman, experience that he said Holland’s likely opponent did not have. He said that Holland has a record of working with people of all parties, and that Holland has worked for Kansans in the legislature.
He praised Holland’s and Kultala’s role as leaders in passing the budget this year.
Parkinson said the election will be an “uphill climb,” but that a Holland/Kultala victory is possible.
Holland said that the next governor will need to work with the coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats, who he said have been leading the legislature for the last few years. He said that only he and Kultala — the “moderate and pragmatic leadership” — can continue with this tradition.
He blasted Brownback as a “career Washington politician” who deregulated the banks and “put the Kansas economy in a tailspin.” He said Brownback opposed the budget this year, and he opposed paying for the transportation plan.
He said that Brownback “sits on the extreme fringe of his party” and has no interest in working with moderate Republicans or Democrats.
In a question after the event, Parkinson expressed confidence that the increase in the sales tax that took effect today will roll back in three years as scheduled, despite the failure of a sales tax increased passed in 2002 to live up to its rollback schedule.
Parkinson also said he did not know of Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, who was recently critical of Parkinson’s decision not to seek election to his current office, saying he “left his party high and dry.” In his analysis Sabato described the Kansas Democratic party as “imploding.”
Holland makes the argument that he and Kultala are “pragmatic and moderate.” Evidence from the candidate’s voting records is different, however. In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, Holland earned a score of zero, the only senator to do so. Kultala earned a score of seven percent, earning her a tie for 36th place among the 40 senators. She voted in favor of economic freedom only once.
In a score card just released by the Kansas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, Holland again earned a score of zero percent. Kultala matched that “perfect” score.
It might seem that someone interested in bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle might vote that way just once in a while.
As to the governor’s portrayal of Holland and Kultala as leaders reaching across the aisle, background discussions with several Republican members of the Kansas Senate could produce no recollection of any significant issue where Holland or Kultala played a leadership role. Both have served in the Senate for just two years and are in the minority party.
The portrayal of Brownback as “fringe” must be examined. Brownback’s record in the U.S. Senate, according to National Journal vote ratings for 2009, places him near the middle of Senate Republicans in terms of voting for conservative positions.