A wave of giddy excitement swept the Kansas social media community last week. "Brownback's leaving!" was the cry. Some responses were angry, that he had inflicted his policies on the state and now was leaving Kansas in the lurch. Others were excited for the opportunity to take his obstructionist vetoes out of the mix. Several asked how soon this might happen. Many echoed, "Good riddance!"
But there was another undercurrent, as well, that the news might not be as good as it would appear. Should Brownback leave office (and the reports have not been confirmed), he would be replaced by Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer. A Governor Colyer would then appoint a new Lieutenant Governor. To date, Dr. Colyer's contribution to state government has been largely ceremonial, though he does oversee panels on health care policy. His most high profile political act could be argued to be the loans made to Governor Brownback's struggling campaign for re-election in 2014.
But Dr. Colyer's experience or policy positions are not entirely at issue. On paper, he is not much different from Brownback, though the proof will be in the act, if he has the opportunity to veto legislation from this newly moderate Legislature. But we should not expect much of a change, if he becomes Governor.
What wil change will be the presence of Sam Brownback on every ballot in 2018. While he would be barred from running for Governor again, his shadow would serve to drag down those who supported his policies throughout his tenure. If he has been removed from Kansas politics for well over a year, he won't be such an easy target for those working to restore Kansas to health.
To be sure, demonizing the Governor is merely shorthand for explaining the effects of his policies on Kansans. "Brownback's tax cuts" serves to encompass the full extent of the 2012 cuts, but also his unfulfilled promises of job growth, his support of tax hikes on lower income Kansans, and his insistence that giving the "experiment" more time would do something besides make the hole deeper. "Brownback's allies," was a simple moniker to refer to those members of the Kansas Legislature who supported his policies regardless of what happened to Kansas, those who vote with their cronies and not their constituents.
Instead, if the Governor goes, we will have to do the work of identifying policies, learning about their effects, meeting our legislators and studying their records. Luckily, this is work MainStream has been doing all along (while also taking advantage of the Governor's name recognition and low popularity, yes).
As we continue with this Legislative session, move into the Fall school board and municipal elections, and on into 2018's House and Governor's races, MainStream will be here, explaining, analyzing, and informing. Stay with us, whatever Sam Brownback does.
Remember to do more than vote. Get informed. Get involved. Make a difference.