There have been a few queries by our members about what exactly we are facing in the elections in 2016. How far do we have to go to turn our legislature around? Just how big is the hole we are trying to fill?
We’ve heard some numbers suggested, maybe as low as just a few seats to make a big impact, and we wondered if that were true. So we contacted a few people and worked out a rough estimate.
The entire Kansas Legislature is up for election in 2016. There are forty seats in the Kansas Senate, and 125 in the Kansas House.
The Kansas Senate
Of the forty seats in the Kansas Senate, eight are held by Democrats, and another 2 to 5 (depending on the issue) by moderate or moderate leaning Republicans. To impact legislation in the Senate, those supporting moderate values would need to garner the support of twenty-one senators, but only have ten to thirteen. Another eight to ten seats would be needed.
The Kansas House
Of the 125 seats in the Kansas House, there are 28 Democrats and 18 to 20 moderate Republicans. There are as many as ten additional conservative (but not radical) Republicans who can be persuaded to counter the most extreme legislation. The magic number for effecting change in the House is 63, and those supporting moderate values can muster as many as 46 on any given day, perhaps as many as 58 if the proposed law is especially ludicrous or harmful. This is where the popular number of “Five more seats,” comes from. But in reality five is a bare minimum and can only hold together against the most egregious of extremist oversteps.
The electoral landscape
To turn the Kansas Legislature around entirely would require the flipping of about ten Senate seats, and as many as fifteen House seats. But in the most dire of cases, five to seven House seats would be better than the current situation, allowing for some modicum of sanity to return to Kansas politics.
This seems like a a big goal, especially in a state where Governor Brownback won re-election just one year ago. But poll after poll has found the Governor and his policies extremely unpopular. He followed up that victory by engineering the largest sales tax hike in Kansas history, while continuing to denigrate the working poor and the elderly, mortgaging the State’s future on risky bonds, and putting our excellent schools, and the future of Kansas children, in the balance.
The Primary Elections on August 2nd
In the general elections next November, Democrats and moderate Republicans will make a strong stand for the future of Kansas, working to challenge every extremist in the Legislature who stood with Governor Brownback. But their first stand will be during the primary elections on August 2nd.
Moderate Republicans, especially, will face bitter fights against opponents supported by Governor Brownback and the Kansas Statehouse leadership. Voter participation, especially by those voters who wish to see extremists turned back, will be critical in these races. These primary candidates will need all the support they can get to counter the influence of Americans for Prosperity and the powerful Kansas Chamber of Commerce.
Much has been said about the practice of urging voters to "switch parties" to vote in Republican primaries. It is our belief that the right to vote is so precious, and can be such a powerful agent for change, that every citizen should vote their conscience in every election to which they have a right. Vote early, we say, and vote often, we joke, as often as the law allows. But put your vote to work where it can do the most good.Use your power to change the future of Kansas.
Across the state, individuals are already announcing their candidacies for legislative office. (See the current 2016 Primary Candidate List) More are still considering it. The deadline for declaring a candidacy is June 1, 2016. MainStream has encouraged many to run, and we’re excited to see so many candidates taking the leap.
Stay with us, and we’ll keep you updated as the elections approach, on the prospects, the numbers, and the work that we need from you.
Thank you, and if you haven’t considered it yet, think about running, or who you know might run. Kansas needs good candidates!
Contact us with your questions.