Category Archives: Kansas Politics

Wasinger: social & economic conservatism not at odds

Rob Wasinger, longtime aide to Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and now candidate for Kansas’s first congressional district, penned an op-ed in the Washington Examiner. In the short piece, he asserts that social and economic components are compatible and equally important elements of the modern conservative agenda.

This is an important message both for the long term and in the short, practical run of things – as the opposition party, unity is important if the Republicans are to stop anything, or wield effective negotiating clout to lessen the impact of ill-advised Democratic policy ideas.

There is more to it than Wasinger gets into, but his basic thrust is this:

The electoral/practical argument: “…a winning Republican coalition must include both economic and social conservatives.”

Remaining relevant: “…we must recast the argument in support of this coalition so that it resonates with voters’ concerns today.”

Making the modern connection: “Republicans must articulate that government grows when families and communities fail. … Policies designed to strengthen families and communities should be the basis of a new pragmatic consensus that reaches across party lines.”

This might sound like a logical tangent to compassionate conservatism (which allows for the use of government for social good), and maybe it is. The twist comes in the fact that policies designed for social welfare are specifically done so with the dual purpose of checking the growth of government, hence the (intended) appeal to economic conservative. (Or maybe that’s not a twist at all, maybe that’s already part of ‘compassionate conservatism’- admittedly I am not thoroughly familiar enough with the doctrine’ to say with absolute certainty).

I’m inherently skeptical of government efforts to engineer social benefits, because whatever the purpose is, you are playing with fire when you give power to the government to do anything, however noble the goals are.

However, it does depend on exactly what policies you are talking about. Moreover, I would say that to the degree government is involved with anything that could be considered social policy (the civil institution of marriage, for instance), that involvement should be of the constructive, values-driven kind that is designed to strengthen family units. Regardless of what you think the government’s role in addressing them should be, it is indisputable that the breakdown of marriage and the family leads to many of the social problems to which many are seeking government solutions.

So, it will be interesting to see if Wasinger continues to flesh this out. What type of policy proposals it might lead to or short of that, how it would have lead him to vote on various issues in previous sessions, or actual legislative matters likely to come up in the near future? All of that will be important for him to discuss on the campaign trail.

For now, it’s good to hear a congressional candidate talking seriously about the direction of the movement and the Party. And at a time when GOP strategists like Steve Shcmidt are foolishly prodding the party to jettison traditionalist positions, it’s also important that candidates are speaking of the importance of maintaining them.


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Filed under Conservative Movement, Kansas Politics, Republican Party

Local election results

If you live in Johnson County, the unofficial local election results are in. Turnout barely topped 9% countywide, which is not unusual for off-year local elections, and a reminder that every vote truly does matter.

A few items of note:

In the 10-way race for JCCC board, the top four vote-getters are elected:

STEPHANIE SHARP 14592 16.32%
MELODY RAYL 12213 13.66%
ROBERT K DRUMMOND 11504 12.87%
JERRY COOK 10709 11.98%
PETER A JOURAS JR 8902 9.96%
JOHN KANAGA 6924 7.74%
DAVID WEEKS 6042 6.76%

Incumbent Ben Hodge came up short, while current board member Melody Rayl earned another term. The other three winners will all be new board members.

The city of Merriam elected a new mayor, while otherwise many incumbent municipal officials had a good night.

In the Olathe School Board elections, Amy Martin defeated Jim Churchman, a victory for the local NEA and other public education establishment groups.

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Filed under Johnson County, Kansas, Kansas Politics

Tiller free but not clear

On Friday, Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the state’s case against him. You can read more in my piece for WORLD Magazine.

On the same day, however, the state Board of Healing Arts announced a pending inquiry into eleven allegations against Tiller. Operation Rescue issued a news release here.

In other news on the life issue, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed a right-to-know law sponsored by local state Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe), a surprise to some given her ardent support of abortion in the past. You can read more about it on Lance’s website.

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Filed under Abortion, Kansas Politics

Sebelius nomination

My piece for WORLD Magazine on the Sebelius nomination has been published online and appears in the latest print issue of the magazine. You can read it here if you have a subscription, or a portion of it if you don’t.

In January, I wrote in WORLD about the defense motion to dismiss charges in the criminal trial of late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller. Judge Owens has since ruled against the defense, and the trial begins Monday.

Visit to stay current – or better yet, buy a subscription!

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Filed under Abortion, Kansas Politics

Hodge pushes for budget, board transparency

Johnson County Community College board member Benjamin Hodge is keeping up the heat on college president Dr. Terry Calaway in a row over college governance transparency.

The Kansas City Star has now weighed in, siding with Hodge and against the broad interpretation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act that Calaway and others had used to justify the handling of general budgetary matters in a closed executive session of the board of trustees.

Hodge gives his take on all the latest at Red County, publishing the Star letter written by managing editor Steve Shirk. Earlier, Calaway wrote to the newspaper to object that Hodge provided information from the closed session to reporter Jim Sullinger. Hodge contends – and I tend to agree with him, as clearly does the Star – that the information should never have been privileged.

The whole incident might seem inside baseball, of interest to only those with a direct connection to the college. However, as a publicly funded institution of higher education in the heart of Johnson County, there are broader implications at stake. Issues like open governance and of how and how much we spend at JCCC.

How will this all shake out and will it impact the upcoming board elections? Stay tuned for more coverage….

Post Script: It looks like this could develop into one of those political flaps where the “cover up” (that’s probably too harsh to Calaway, but you understand what I mean) is worse than the actual “crime” (may or may not have been an actual crime here). The issue started out as a small one, but in drawing attention to it Calaway has made it a larger one, and one that he may lose.

Full disclosure: I’ve known Hodge a number of years and worked on one of his previous campaigns, as has been documented for some time on this site.

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Filed under Education, Kansas Politics

Overland Park, KS City Council candidates on taxes, lobbyists

Three candidates for Overland Park’s second ward squared off in a debate tonight. Johnson County Community College board member and conservative activist Ben Hodge asked participants if they “will you cut taxpayer-funded lobbying and other unnecessary expenditures before increasing taxes?”

They responded accordingly:

Jason Osterhaus: Yes.

Laura Johnson: Yes.

Curt Skoog: No – it’s a vital service.

The three also discussed whether they would be willing to raise taxes:

Osterhaus: No.

Johnson: Yes.

Skoog: Yes.

While this represents only a slice of the campaign, it could be indicative of where the candidates are generally. I have known Osterhaus as a social conservative (he is a sincere Catholic who has been involved in various ministries), but he appears to be campaigning on a conservative economic message as well.

Will keep you posted on Jason’s candidacy and this race…Stay tuned.

Jason’s Facebook group.

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Kansas: “Woman’s Right to Know and See” introduced

Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe) has introduced pro-life legislation in the Kansas legislature, announcing the bill Monday at a capitol press conference in Topeka. The eight page piece of legislation, titled The Woman’s Right to Know and See, currently has 38 co-sponsors.

HB 2076 would:

  • Require that 24 hours prior to an abortion, pregnant mothers be provided a list of free sonogram locations along with information on free counseling assistance and perinatal hospice services.
  • Require that 30 minutes prior to an abortion, pregnant mothers must be offered a copy of the sonogram and a chance to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
  • Require abortion clincs to post signage inside the building ensuring that pregnant women understand their rights.
  • Require the state to produce a “standard information video,” and website including a series of ultrasound images of a developing baby.

Kinzer is an articulate pro-life voice and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and this bill figures to be the major pro-life vehicle this session. Even if it does pass both chambers, however, it awaits Governor Kathleen Sebelius‘s desk, who vetoed anti-abortion legislation last year. The thinking is surely to continue to fight the good fight and simply force the governor to veto, if that is what she chooses to do.

Given that this bill simply guarantees access to information and free services, however, this may be a tougher veto for Sebelius. If the bill were to become law it would be an incremental victory and advance for the pro-life movement. In that sense this approach is strategic and subtle. Yet, for legislation centered on access to information and full disclosure, it is fairly comprehensive, and in that sense, quite aggressive.

Stay tuned for updates…

Additional resources:

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Filed under Abortion, Kansas Politics