Kansas is a Republican, not conservative, state


A recent editorial prepared by the Kansas Republican Party concluded with: “Kansas Republicans are presenting a united front with sound plans to meet the challenges of a 21st century economy. Our philosophy centers on liberating the promise of the individual and family as the answer, not more government growth, on a path to prosperity.”

That’s a fiscally conservative message. The practice of many Kansas Republicans, however, is far removed from this message advocating limited government. Kansas Republicans, especially the Senate leadership, are working to increase taxes in Kansas in a way that leads to more government growth at the expense of many thousands of private sector jobs in favor of government jobs.

It starts with Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson. Although he is a Democrat, it was not long ago he was a Republican, even holding the chairmanship of the Kansas Republican Party. In his State of the State address in January, Parkinson proposed a temporary once cent on the dollar increase in the sales tax and an increase in cigarette taxes. Although the majority of the sales tax is pitched to Kansans as a temporary measure, these temporary taxes have a nasty habit of becoming permanent.

In the Senate, the leadership trio of President Stephen Morris, Vice President John Vratil, and Majority Leader Derek Schmidt agree with the governor that increasing taxes is the way to balance the Kansas budget. In particular, Vratil imported a California law that taxes the sugar content of soda pop. The California law had the benefit that the tax revenue would go towards promoting childhood health. In Kansas, the revenue would go to the general fund.

In both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Republicans hold a majority of seats. But many Republicans do not vote a conservative position on taxes and spending. At a recent legislative forum, Representative Ray Merrick, who is House Majority Leader, explained the political reality in the House. There are 76 Republican members of the House, but Merrick said that on the “very best day” there are 55 who will vote with him, meaning they are conservative Republicans. 63 votes are required to pass legislation in the House.

Who are these legislators that belong to the Republican party but don’t vote with conservatives on issues of taxation and spending? According to rankings prepared by Americans For Prosperity-Kansas, for the 2009 session of the Kansas Legislature, the Democrat with the highest (most fiscally conservative) ranking is Jerry Williams, with a ranking of 55%. There are 11 Republicans who rank equivalent or lower than this. Their names are:

Jill Quigley of Lenexa,
Sheryl Spalding of Overland Park,
Kay Wolf of Prairie Village,
Ron Worley of Lenexa,
Terrie Huntington (now in the Kansas Senate) of Fairway,
Jo Ann Pottorf of Wichita,
Tom Sloan of Lawrence,
Don Hill of Emporia,
Bob Brookens of Marion,
Barbara Craft of Junction City, and
Charles Roth of Salina.

For the Senate, a similar analysis is clouded by the presence of Democrat Chris Steineger, who is an outlier among Democrats for his consistent votes in favor of fiscal restraint and taxpayers. But some of the worst-ranking Republicans are these:

Jean Schodorf of Wichita,
Pete Brungardt of Salina,
Stephen Morris of Hugoton, who is President of the Senate,
Tim Owens of Overland Park,
Roger Reitz of Manhattan,
Derek Schmidt of Independence, who is Senate Majority Leader,
Vicki Schmidt of Topeka, and
John Vratil of Leawood, who is Vice President of the Senate.

The Kansas Economic Freedom Index, a new project of mine, will also let us learn who votes in favor of economic freedom and against big government, no matter what their party affiliation indicates.


18 responses to “Kansas is a Republican, not conservative, state”

  1. Anonymous

    Good stuff. I had no idea so few Republicans actually held conservative views. That has got to change.

  2. Nathan

    We should never tax anything. Payments to government should be voluntary only. If government goes bankrupt or collapses all the better. Then we can have true anarchy and go after our enemies and take what we want by force.

  3. sue

    At the recent AFP Summit in Topeka, last Wednesday, one of the conservative speakers said there were 22 Republicans in our state house who are NOT conservative. I can see that you outlined a great deal of those in this article.

    Great information. I am printing this out. We need to get opponents for all these non-conservative “republicans.”

  4. Ann H.

    The more I pay attention to Kansas politics, the more it becomes clear that there are plenty of RINO’s here working against the interests of the people. I think a lot of conservatives in Kansas are complacent because we are a “red” state. We need to wake up from that complacency, however. If we don’t feel the Democrats are a threat (though they still are) we should at least get to work reclaiming the Republican party and booting out the bad apples. Like Jean Schodorf.

  5. kimpot54

    I may have missed the discussion on this, but isn’t there great concern about the Republican primary for the 4th district congressional seat? There are basically 4 conservative candidates running against Jean Schodorf. Now, Jean is a nice lady, but her voting record in Topeka is anything but conservative. I’m very concerned that Dems will re-register for the primary and vote for her. With 4 conservatives in that race splitting the vote, isn’t there a good possibility we could have Schodorf (really a Democrat) running against Democrat Raj Goyle?

  6. Kerr Avon

    Well kimpot54, isn’t the democratic process a b**** when it works against your party?

    In reality, it would be best if the the ultra-conservative candidate wins that primary to ensure Raj’s victory in Nov.

  7. Mike

    Hi, From what I’ve seen, if there’s anyone in the race who’s ultra anything it’s ole Raj, as in Ultra-Liberal. Can he run? Isn’t he a resident of Washington D.C. full time now anyway?


  8. Anonymous

    Well, Kerr Avon, if the tables were turned, Democrats would be b****ing up a storm. And if the ultra-conservative wins on the Republican ticket, and I haven’t read enough about any of them to know who that is, don’t count him out. If things continue to go as they have since Obama’s election, Democrats, be they Kansans or otherwise, won’t be too popular in November. Republicans just need to make sure Jean Schodorf is not their candidate. I would encourage a candidate or two on the Republican side to drop out of the race before the primary. Do it for your country, guys.

  9. Cybex

    Sen. Schodorf does not have a chance of winning the primary and Democrats are not going to switch registration. This is a two man race between Pompeo and Hartman. Rep. Goyle feels that he is too smart for the State House and has grown tired of his part-time job. His wife lives and works in DC. I would hate to be a Democrat this fall, but those who love America need to get out and vote.

  10. Anonymous

    I appreciate it when elected officials are able to cross party lines in order to do what’s best for their constituents. I’d rather vote for a politician who does what is in the best interest for Kansas citizens than those who are more concerned with voting along party lines and make sure that they appear to be conservative enough.

  11. kimpot54

    Hope you’re right, Cybex, but isn’t it Jim Anderson (one of the 4 Republicans in the primary) who is a supporter of the FairTax? I’m sure he will skim off votes. I’d vote for any reasonable Republican, who says he’ll support the FairTax (except in this case where we could end of with Schodorf as the Republican candidate).

  12. Ann H.

    Cybex, from all I’ve seen, there is a lot of support for Anderson out there. I don’t think you can count him out. I share the fears of kimpot54, about the conservatives splitting the vote and the Democrats getting in on the primary, and hence Schodorf winning. I used to live in another district where EXACTLY that thing happened. 1 “moderate” vs. 5 conservatives. The “moderate” only got 28% of the vote but still won. And though at least 2 of the 5 conservatives were routinely in the single digits in the polls, all of them were apparently too full of themselves to do what was right and pull out of the race, even though they didn’t have any chance of winning. As a result, the “moderate” became our congressman. I can see exactly the same thing happening here and I am really, really afraid of it. Schodorf seems even worse than the “moderate” that won my district before.

  13. Mike


    “1 “moderate” vs. 5 conservatives. The “moderate” only got 28% of the vote but still won. And though at least 2 of the 5 conservatives were routinely in the single digits in the polls, all of them were apparently too full of themselves to do what was right and pull out of the race, even though they didn’t have any chance of winning.”

    As as alternate to pulling out of the race, the Republican party makes it’s own rules with respect to primaries. That’s why it’s a separate entity from the other parties. The party could define a new system which included a run-off of the top two contenders in the event that no candidate reached a certain percentage of the vote (usually 50%).



  14. Ann H.

    Mike, I agree, a runoff system would help. I won’t look to the Republican Party establishment to put forth any actual helpful reform though. :-/

  15. Mike Shaw

    “Republican but not Conservative” sounds like whistling past the grave yard to me. The GOP can hold fast to their big government ways at their own peril, as will the demokrats.
    It is as if the stockholders of a major corporation have finally discovered their brilliant new CEO and longtime Board of Directors have been stealing and working to bring down the stock value on purpose. How long do these thieving Progressives think they can stay out of prison once we take this country back? I don’t even want to be near D.C. when it happens.

  16. craig

    This article is right on. It took 15 RINO’s in the house to pass a 18% sales tax increase and a 10% discretionary budget increase. I like your economic freedom index, except it needs their party affi;iation, and worst to best. That would make it so much easier to figure out what districts we need to get a conservative candidate involved in the election process.

  17. Mike

    Hi again, the “1 “moderate” vs. 5 conservatives. The “moderate” only got 28% of the vote but still won. ” Indicates something that should cause the Republican Party administration to change the way that they do business. Based on their own candidates, 5 of 6 Republicans are conservative. While that’s not exactly a scientific poll the fact that of 6 people mad enough at the status quo to go through the pain of running for office, 5 were conservatives IS A GOOD INDICATION. Why on Earth would 5 of 6 Republicans support the only one of the candidates that they DISAGREED with?


    Wichita KS

  18. Bill Martin

    I think that if any state deserves to dry up from global warming, it is the state of Kansas. Some people are so hard headed that the only way that the can learn is to suffer the consequences.

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