Kansas Republicans, no, not just you folks who are Republicans because your parents are/were,
but folks actually active in the party, will gather this weekend in Olathe to…well, say how happy
they are to be Republicans.
Oh, they’ll have debates at the Annual Kansas Republican Convention among their party’s
candidates for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate and in at least one congressional district. And
they will pay tribute to retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., for his 40 years of service in and
around Congress—if the Senate is done deciding whether to fire President Donald Trump by
Saturday so Roberts can attend the banquet that bears his name.
But the real temperature of the convention can probably be taken by just how anti-abortion and
abortion-rights Republicans interact.
That abortion deal? It would let Kansas voters, either a bunch at the general election in
November, or a smaller number at the August primary election, hand the authority to the
Legislature to regulate abortion in Kansas, essentially overturning the Kansas Supreme Court
decision last year which held that the choice of an abortion is a constitutional individual right
that the Legislature can’t by law restrict.
And it might tell us something about whether many have read the party’s official platform, and
what it says Kansas Republicans believe in and what they don’t.
You don’t have to initial the platform and its provisions to get a drink at a reception or several
drinks at several receptions, but you’ll probably have more people to chat with if you’re behind
Among the platform’s “official Kansas Republican” provisions are that the party officially
believes “life begins at conception,” “culture should respect and protect life,” that the “judiciary
must respect the separation of powers and not make laws” and that it wants the 1973 Roe v.
Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision overturned.
Hmmm…those platform provisions are going to get a test among Republicans in the Statehouse,
likely this week, just days before the state GOP convention, when either the House or the Senate
(leaders are still bargaining over which chamber will vote first) will vote on a resolution that if at
least 27 Senate and 84 House members vote yes, will wind up on the August primary election
ballot for voters to decide by a simple majority vote.
State GOP party leaders say they just want the party to pull together behind the party platform,
maybe not every piece of it, but generally much of it.
So, what’s the Olathe partying have to do with life under the Dome?
It might well be where the party members, on the abortion issue, chose their favorites for primary
election votes. It might be where anti-abortion potential candidates pick up support on that one issue that will help them finance campaigns to unseat incumbents who are for abortion rights. Or,
it might tell them that the most politically active Republicans in their districts are for abortion
rights, and they need to find another more complicated issue on which to wage their intra-party
scraps. You never go wrong just proposing to reduce property taxes, do you?
And when the Republicans hit the road for home Saturday night or Sunday morning after the
convention (in time to watch the Kansas City Chiefs at the Super Bowl), party members on both
sides of the abortion issue are going to be calculating just what intra-party scraps mean in the
post-election 2021 Legislature. There are now 29 Republicans and 11 Democrats in the Senate,
84 Republicans and 41 Democrats in the House.
The governor? She’s for abortion rights but doesn’t have any role in the process of putting the
issue on the likely-August ballot.
Yes, this might be a fairly interesting GOP convention in Olathe. We’ll see who makes friends
and who doesn’t.