Monday, August 23, 2010

Kansas Governor Race

Race of the Day

Kansas Governor

August 23, 2010
71 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Open
2008 Presidential Result: Red State (Midwest)

Outlook: Safe Republican

Democrats hailed the 2002 election of Kathleen Sebelius to the post of Governor as an example of how the party can win high office in a conservative state. Aided by GOP ideological infighting in her initial campaign and through her reelection four years later, Sebelius was a rising star in the party, with prospects of either going to Washington D.C. to work for a Democrat President or to seek a Senate seat in Kansas. Ultimately, she did decide to move to the nation's capital to become Barack Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services. That move elevated her second Lt. Governor, Mark Parkinson, who had once been the state GOP Chair, to the office of Governor. Parkinson, who changed parties to run on a ticket with Sebelius, had already announced that he would not be seeking public office in 2010, and despite some prodding, chose not to change his mind once he became Governor. The departure of Sebelius from the state scene and her replacement as Governor deciding he would be content to serve half a term, has created a power vacuum in the party, and has Republicans sitting pretty in the Sunflower State.

Back in 1994, Republican Sam Brownback had wanted to run for Governor of Kansas, but stood aside in favor of a more well-known candidate. Instead, he ran for the U.S. House that year, and just two years later, was elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election to replace GOP Presidential nominee Bob Dole. Brownback spent his time in Washington as an outspoken conservative on social issues, and as someone with an interest in foreign policy. In late 2006, he launched a longshot bid for the Republican Presidential nomination, which went nowhere,
and he was out of the race by the fall of 2007.

Brownback had already decided he would abide to a term limit pledge and not seek to return to the Senate in 2010. Instead, he set his sights back on the job of Governor that he had long coveted. While Kansas Republicans had been divided in recent years between conservative and moderate factions, Brownback served a somewhat unifying figure and by the time the primary rolled around at the beginning of this month, Brownback was basically unopposed and already a heavy favorite for the general election.

Representing Democrats in the Gubernatorial election is State Senator Tom Holland, whom the party united behind after other Democrats, including Governor Parkinson declined to seek the job. For several months, polls have shown Brownback with a hefty lead over Holland, but a Survey USA poll out last week shows the Republican ahead by a breathtaking 42 points. The same poll also indicates that Republicans are poised to sweep all statewide offices in Kansas, including defeating several Democrat incumbents. A landslide at the top of the ticket for Governor and U.S. Senate in the state might also flip the state's lone Democrat House seat, which is open this year.

Having fallen far short of a quest for the White House, Sam Brownback is now virtually certain to become a chief executive for the first time. It should prove to be an interesting change of pace for him after all the years he spent in Congress, and perhaps he may feel that he has another Presidential bid left in him sometime down the road.

Brownback campaign link:

2010 Governor races predicted thus far: 4 D, 10 R
Predicted Gubernatorial totals thus far: 11 D, 16 R