Here’s a look at the August 3, 2010 Kansas primary election contests that had the possibility of changing the character of the Kansas House of Representatives, and in one case, the Kansas Senate.
A Kansas Chamber of Commerce endorsement is a reliable measure of a candidate’s conservative credentials from a fiscal perspective. The Kansas Economic Freedom Index and AFP legislative scorecards provide additional insight into legislators and their voting records.
Here are races where there may be a shift in the makeup of the House, sometimes depending on the results of the November general election.
In Kansas House District 17 (parts of Shawnee and Lenexa) the Kansas Chamber of Commerce endorsed Kelly Meigs, and she defeated one-term incumbent Jill Quigley 53 percent to 47 percent in the Republican primary. Bryan Cox has filed as a Democrat. Quigley had a liberal voting record, scoring just nine percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.
In Kansas House District 29 (parts of Overland Park) conservative challenger Richard Downing wasn’t able to defeat first-term incumbent Sheryl L. Spalding (19 percent on KEFI), although the margin of Spalding’s victory is just 29 votes of 2,695 cast and could possibly change. The winner will face Democrat Doug Dowell in the general election.
In Kansas House District 65 (Junction City and parts of Geary and Wabaunsee counties), Barbara Craft did not seek re-election. Her Kansas Economic Freedom Index rating of 19 percent places her in the left-wing Republican camp. The Kansas Chamber did not make an endorsement in this district, but Republican primary winner James P. Fawcett has been described as a conservative. He’ll face Democrat Larry Hicks in November.
In House District 110 (Osborne, Rooks and Russell Counties, Cities of Ellis and Victoria, Buckeye, Catherine, Ellis, Herzog and Victoria townships) three Republicans vied to fill this seat previously held by Dan Johnson with his 16 percent Kansas Economic Freedom Index score. Chamber-endorsed Dan L. Collins won. No Democrat filed in this district, so this is a certain pick-up for conservatives.
In House District 69 (parts of Salina) Chamber-endorsed Tom Arpke defeated incumbent Republican Deena L. Horst, who has represented the district since 1995. Horst had earned a score of 69 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index. On AFP’s rating for this year she scored 60 percent and 100 percent the year before. She voted for the big-spending budget this year, but not the sales tax increase. Arpke will face Democrat Gerrett Morris — not to be confused with Garrett Morris of Saturday Night Live fame — in November.
Kansas House District 120 (Cheyenne, Decatur, Norton, Phillips and Rawlins counties) is a loss for conservatives as incumbent John Faber lost to challenger Ward Cassidy. The winner will face Democrat Robert Strevey in the general election. The Chamber had endorsed Faber, who earned a Kansas Economic Freedom Index rating of 72 percent and an AFP rating of 90 percent. A resident of St. Francis, Cassidy and his wife are public school employees, and he lists education as one of his priorities. When public school employees say this, it usually means that spending on schools is a priority over everything else. His website also says he pledges to “look at every means possible to increase revenue within the state without raising taxes.”
In Kansas House District 124 (Grant, Morton, Stanton and Stevens counties, Haskell County: City of Satanta and Dudley Township, Seward County: Seward Township), incumbent Bill Light did not seek re-election. Republicans Dan Widder and J. Stephen Alford sought the Republican party nomination, with no Democrats having filed. The Chamber endorsed Widder. Alford narrowly won with 51 percent of the vote. Light was a left-wing Republican with a Kansas Economic Freedom Index rating of 11 percent. Alford, endorsed by liberal Senate President Stephen Morris (his own KEFI rating is only seven percent), can’t be much more to the left than Light.
There were a handful of instances where moderate or liberal Republicans withstood challenges by conservatives.
In Kansas House District 9 (Allen County plus parts of Woodson, Coffey, Anderson, and Franklin Counties, including the city of Iola), the Chamber selected Raymond “Bud” Sifers over incumbent Bill Otto in the Republican primary. Otto won with 56 percent of the vote. No Democrat filed. Otto is sometimes difficult to classify. He scored 60 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, but only 40 percent on AFP’s scorecard for this year after rating 82 percent the year before. This year, Otto voted against the spending bill but for the sales tax increase, the only member of the House to vote this way on these two bills.
In Kansas House District 60 (parts of Emporia) incumbent Republican Don Hill defeated challenger Daniel Buller. Hill scored a very liberal nine percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and is mentioned as one of the leaders of the left-wing Republican faction of the House that votes for spending and tax increases. Hill will face Democrat Michael “Mike” Dorcey in the general election.
In Kansas House District 64 (Clay County plus parts of Dickinson, Geary, and Riley counties) incumbent Republican Vern Swanson was challenged by Michael Musselman. Swanson won. No Democrat filed. Swanson scored 19 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.
In Kansas House District 68 (parts of Morris and Dickinson counties including Council Grove and Abilene) two-term incumbent Republican Tom J. Moxley was challenged by Calvin Seadeek Jr. Moxley has a liberal voting record, scoring 19 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index. There is no Democratic party opponent in the general election.
In Kansas House District 70 (Chase and Marion counties, plus part of Butler County) Cheryl Green challenged first-term incumbent J. Robert (Bob) Brookens (KEFI 19 percent). Brookens won with 60 percent of the vote. There was no Democratic Party filer.
In Kansas House District 71 (parts of Salina) incumbent Charlie Roth withstood a challenge by two opponents in the Republican primary. There is no Democratic Party filer. Roth scored a liberal nine percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index and played a leadership role in passing the statewide smoking ban in the House of Representatives this year.
In Kansas House District 83 (Eatborough and parts of east Wichita) veteran incumbent Jo Ann Pottorff defeated conservative challenger Kyle Amos. The Chamber chose Amos for its endorsement, and Pottorff scored a low 13 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index. Sean Amore is the Democratic Party opponent in the general election.
In the Kansas Senate, there was one election this year. The appointed incumbent for Senate District 7 (In Johnson County the cities of Countryside, Fairway, Merriam, Mission, Mission Hills, Mission Woods, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Westwood, Westwood Hills, and parts of Leawood and Overland Park) is Terrie Huntington, and she faced a conservative challenge from David Harvey. Huntington’s votes for the big-spending budget and the sales tax increase earned her a Kansas Econimic Freedom Index score of 20 percent, and led to the Kansas Chamber endorsement of Harvey. Huntingon won with 54 percent of the vote.
Conservatives withstood some challengers in these districts.
In Kansas House District 13 (Eureka, Yates Center, Fredonia, Neodesha and surrounding area) the Chamber endorsed incumbent Forrest Knox over challenger Trent Forsyth in the Republican primary. No Democrat filed. Knox scored 95 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index, and Forsyth was endorsed by the liberal teachers union. Knox won with 54 percent of the vote.
In Kansas House District 94 (parts of west Wichita and part of Attica, Delano, and Waco townships), incumbent conservative Joe McLeland handily defeated two challengers, including one endorsed by the liberal Wichita Eagle editorial board. There is no Democratic Party candidate in this district
In Kansas House District 121 (Graham, Sheridan, Sherman and Thomas counties), Brenda McCants challenged incumbent Jim Morrison, with no Democrat filing for the general election contest. Martin Hawver, dean of Kansas Statehouse reporters, described this as a a race “more about experience — coming up to reapportionment — than philosophy, not a moderate/conservative split.” But Morrison had the Kansas Chamber’s endorsement and a reliably conservative voting record.