This is starting to become interesting, just how effectively Kansas Republicans create a bright yellow line between federal elections and elections for members of the Kansas House and Kansas Senate.
The real issue, of course, is that Trump is president and would like to stay in that job for another four years. And his name will be on the top of the ballot next year with “R” behind his name.
Oh, and yes, he’s a dab divisive both within his adopted Republican Party and the nation in general. You can talk about that among yourselves…
While the Republican Party of Kansas needs to make re-electing Trump an issue of vital import for Kansas Republican voters, it also needs to separate that national posture from the job of maintaining its dominance in the Kansas Legislature.
That’s why the GOP primary races for the U.S. House and Senate are important to the party, but the real work for the party is here at home, within Kansas borders.
Practically, the state party doesn’t get involved in Kansas legislative GOP primary races, but at the federal level, say, choosing delegates for the Republican National Convention next year that will select the party’s presidential nominee, it’s going to be an all-Trump delegation that the state sends to Charlotte, N.C., next August.
The real issue here, and the real challenge here, is separating the party’s in-state duties from its national political stance. That is going to interesting to watch.
There are Kansas Republican legislators, of course, who are considerably more moderate than Trump, and probably weren’t among the 56.8 percent of Kansans who voted for him back in 2016… They are in that group that voted to expand Medicaid and who voted against the tax bill that Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed. Lots of Rs behind those votes.
Those are votes that were important to Kansas, but probably didn’t raise many eyebrows in the White House.
And while Republicans are seeing their Kansas Legislature grow more moderate on the state legislative level, the party’s support for Trump probably is the GOP’s biggest gift to Democrats.
Gift to Democrats? Yes, because after more than two years in office, it’s likely that it won’t take much work for them to describe those legislative candidates who are Republicans as “Trumpers.”
It would take some special legislation to allow Democrats to notch the ears of Republicans seeking legislative seats next year, but it won’t be hard for nearly every Democrat to put a bullet point on his/her palm cards to make sure that voters know that Republicans seeking a House or Senate seat are from the same party that Trump now leads.
Thinking that if Democrats come up with a reasonable middle-of-the- road candidate for President that they might see some gains in House and Senate seats in Kansas? Possibly. But just the name Trump at the top of the ballot is going to be a factor when you’re trying to decide whether your Kansas House or Senate member is going to vote for a new highway plan or possibly reduce the sales tax on groceries instead of paring income taxes for corporations with international revenues.
We may be looking at one of those years coming up in which Kansans make a sharp division between the folks we send off to Washington and those we send to Topeka for the winter. While Democrats’ best strategy is to probably turn every Republican into a Trumper, state legislative Republicans need to focus on their districts, the local issues that send them to Topeka.
We’ll see how that works out…