These races need moderate votes

What does it take to get a moderate fired up? We work under the assumption that the vast majority of the electorate are moderate, i.e., not extremists on the right or the left. They may identify with a party, or not, but they don't identify with the spittle flying from either end of the spectrum. If everyone voted, we maintain, moderates would win. But not everyone votes. In the last general election in Johnson County, KS, one in five registered voters bothered to vote. And that number does not include those eligible voters who have not even bothered to register.

What does it take to get a moderate fired up?

This week, we're going to outline the most important races, from a moderate point of view, on the ballot this Fall. Next week, we'll outline the most important issues at stake.

Kansas Governor

This is the big race, though it has been overshadowed nationally as the US Senate race sucks all the air out of the room. The Governor's race will affect Kansans the most, with public education, health care, and revenue issues all hanging in the balance. This race pits incumbent Governor Sam Brownback against Democrat Paul Davis.

By all accounts this is a close race, surprising, given the prevalence of Republicans in Kansas, but not when you factor in Brownback's extreme beliefs and his record. During his first term as Governor, the Brownback Administration has presided over revenue losses, meager job growth amidst a national recovery, a refusal to return funds to public education, a problem-plagued state takeover of Medicaid, and the rampant unleashing of extremist pet projects on Kansas. A second term will likely remove any barriers he might have perceived towards his more radical policies.

The latest polls have Davis ahead, by about 4%, not enough to ignore the margin of error.

Kansas House of Representatives

This year, all members of the Kansas House are up for re-election. This is the body that passed the bill to legalize discrimination against gay couples, voted to strip due process from teachers, and refused to reinstate public education funding cut during the recession. There are incumbent moderates of both parties trying to keep their seats, and moderate challengers running to unseat extremist right-wingers.

In the Kansas Primaries, held in August, not a single incumbent moderate lost their seat, and several ultra-conservatives were ousted from their races by even-keeled challengers. That was a modest victory for common sense.

But in this General election, there are a number of strong moderate candidates either facing a Tea Party challenger, or fighting to unseat one. Your vote will make a difference.

Kansas Secretary of State

Also critical to Kansans, and to national attention, is the race for Secretary of State in Kansas. Current incumbent Kris Kobach is facing stiff competition from Democrat Jean Schodorf for his seat. As far as extremists go, Kobach is the ideal: from his attacks on voting rights, on Federal wildlife laws, on Federal gun laws, on immigrants, his costly lawsuits on "behalf" of Kansas, and finally the national debacle that resulted from his meddling in the US Senate race this Fall. The opportunity to replace him with a rational moderate like Schodorf is one we should not miss.

This race is also close, but Kobach leads by 5% at the moment. Moderate voters could swing this race, simply by getting out to vote.

State Board of Education

The State Board of Education is a bastion against extremist education policies. On this ballot there only one contested race, with Janet Waugh, the moderate Democrat, defending her seat against Nancy Klemp, the extremist contender. You've read the horror stories from Boards of Education in Texas, about textbooks with creationism, science neglected, etc. This race needs moderate votes.

US Senate

As far as the national press is concerned, this is the big one. One joke going around is that the New York Times has written more about Kansas in the last three months than they have since the Civil War. Incumbent Senator Pat Roberts (R) is facing Greg Orman (I). Sen Roberts has consistently run to the right, both in office and while seeking his party's nomination, from 38th most conservative senator in 2005 to 8th most conservative in 2013. (National Journal). Orman is a running as an independently-minded candidate, but holds positions that are consistent with the moderate stance.

This race is very close: a current poll puts Orman up over Roberts, by about 3%, with a lot of undecided voters.

US Congress

In addition to all of those, and more besides, we have other races statewide for Congress that can determine the direction of the nation. Jim Sherow is battling Tim Huelskamp in the 1st Congressional District. Margie Wakefield is working to beat Lynn Jenkins in the second Congressional District. And Kelly Kultala is in a fight for the 3rd Congressional House seat against Kevin Yoder. All of these incumbents, Yoder, Huelskamp, and Jenkins, are known for their opposition to moderate causes and their support of extreme positions. In fact, here are their American Conservative Union scores, out of 100: Yoder 88, Jenkins 91, Huelskamp 93.

This is why we need you

Moderates are famous for bringing common sense to politics. We need you, the moderate voter, to apply some of that common sense now. If you don't vote, if you don't convince your friends to vote, common sense declares that nothing will change. These races are so close, and just a few votes can tip the balance.

Get informedGet involved. Do more than vote.

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