It’s election season! You know, the magical time of year when, if you’re a good little boy or girl, Uncle Sam will cram something up your chimney, or something like that. This year, it’s just so hard to choose, with all the teabagging going on, not to mention our socialist communist Muslim president, who even as I write this, is forcing gay people to get married and then have abortions performed by government-controlled doctors.
Anyway, my little corner of the world is actually pretty boring. We don’t have any candidates who with pro wrestling backgrounds, nor do we have any right-wing Republican former witches or Nazis (although we do have Kris Kobach).
I think our country is in a lot of trouble, and the results of the forthcoming election are almost certain to make it worse, as we look poised to give the Republicans back control of Congress (“Today’s GOP – We’re the party that campaigns on government not working, and then we prove it once we’re elected!”)
But, all we can do is vote (and bitch – loudly). My Douglas County sample ballot had a dozen or so races, a bunch of judge retentions, and a couple ballot measures on it, and for what it’s worth, these are my thoughts on how I will be voting this year.
Lisa Johnson is my pick here. The big knock on her is lack of experience, but she has responsible, moderate positions on the major issues, which unfortunately won’t stop her from losing by 30 points to cookie-cutter Tea Party favorite Pat Moran in the election.
Congress – 3rd District
Stephene Moore versus Kevin Yoder
This (was) the most difficult decision I have/had, and to tell the truth, I still have not made up my mind. I think retiring Congressman Dennis Moore is one of the finest legislators Kansas has ever elected, and if he were running, he would be my pick. However, he is retiring, and his wife is running for the seat. She has good positions on the issues, but has absolutely no experience (other then being Dennis Moore’s wife). Her opponent, Kevin Yoder is a moderate to liberal Republican who has a very solid record in the Kansas House, especially on social and financial issues. Yoder was a leading GOP voice against the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Kansas, and in fact was a registered Democrat for much of his adult life until he realized that you need an “R” next to your name to win in Kansas. Yoder’s been mouthing tea party platitudes to secure his election, and electing him is still a vote for a GOP majority – but, we ought to also encourage socially moderate Republicans, especially when the Democrat is not a very inspiring alternative. I will probably not make up my mind here until election day, but, I was for a while leaning Yoder.
Not anymore. After seeing Yoder’s embarrassing, evasive answers to softball questions from readers in this Lawrence Journal-World forum, I can say that any desire I had to vote for Yoder has been significantly diminished. I have additional thoughts about that forum if you want the ugly details. Making it even “better” is the revelation that Yoder had a “glug glug vroom vroom” moment back in 2009. I am definitely not going to vote for him. I may look at Moore again, or perhaps even consider a write-in vote or something.
Tom Holland is a decent, thoughtful public servant. He also has an IT background, which is a plus, especially given the state government’s recent PC-related ‘oopsies.’ I don’t like the fact that Holland gave gay people the big middle finger a few years back by supporting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but overall, he’s a moderate guy who would keep Kansas on an even keel. In contrast, his opponent, Senator Sam Brownback is running for office on a social-conservative ideological crusade, including cozying up to pro-genocide African “Christians.” Unfortunately, given his statewide name recogniztion and the “R” by his name, Brownback will win in a landslide, but I don’t have to help him along his way.
Secretary of State
Chris Biggs is a thoughtful, responsible public servant running against an ideologue. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Biggs’ opponent, Kris Kobach, is a nasty piece of work, who has made a career immigrant-bashing (he helped write Arizona’s “papers please” immigration law) and as an anti-abortion crusader (best known for subpoenaing patient medical records in abortion cases). Biggs? Just a boring public servant who is doing the very unglamorous job of running the Secretary of State’s office. I’ll take boring but competent over ideological crusader any day. Hopefully even in 2010, Kansans will agree.
Steve Six has already proved himself to be a capable Attorney General who has spent his time doing things like building a consumer fraud protection division and enhancing identity theft law enforcement. The other guy’s major campaign plank is that he wants to sue the federal government to overturn the recently passed health care law – which, regardless of how you might feel about the law is just a waste of taxpayer money since a suit against the law is already underway. Once again, I prefer the competent do-er versus the ideologue.
Sandy Praeger is running unopposed, but I will still affirmatively vote for her, as she has done a good job of running this office and addressed several consumer-friendly improvements to insurance regulation in Kansas during her past time in office.
State Representative, 46th District
Paul Davis is also running unopposed, but I will still affirmatively vote for him. Paul Davis has always responded when I have contacted him, and is a reliable liberal voice for Lawrence in the Kansas House. He deserves another term.
I don’t know enough about the candidates running for this office to make an informed choice. I’m not just going to vote for the Democrat, because honestly, I just don’t know, and I think it is better to leave the ballot blank then vote based purely on party or by guessing.
There’s a bunch of judges up for retention. I do not have enough information to specifically vote on the merits of each judge, but I am included to vote to retain all the judges, because as seen in Iowa, politicizing the judicial selection system is a very, very bad idea.
Constitutional Question 1: Right to Bear Arms
I am going to vote yes on this (purely symbolic) amendment which makes it clear that the right to bear arms in Kansas is an individual right (versus a collective right). The amendment is symbolic since the Federal constitution already secures an individual right to bear arms (at least based on recent Supreme Court rulings), but nonetheless, expanding civil rights is a good thing. The right to defend one’s self is an basic civil liberty, the same as the right to free speech, religion, freedom from search and seizure, and so on. The repulsiveness of certain conservative supporters of this right shouldn’t nullify the right any more then the repulsiveness of certain First Amendment supporters (I’m looking at you, Fred Phelps!) nullifies that right.
Constitutional Question 2: Right To Vote for Mentally Ill
I am going to vote yes. The state constitution currently allows the legislature to strip the franchise from anyone who has a mental illness. This has never been turned into actual legislation, but that doesn’t stop it from being a bad idea, and a sign of an old stigma that should be excised from the constitution.
Local Question 1: Library Funding
I will vote yes. Lawrence’s library is overused and under-funded. Its current facilities date from when Lawrence was half its size, and it needs to grow with the town. I believe public libraries are a fundamental public good, and Lawrence should make the needed improvements in the library system. This bond issue would provide money for a much improved library building, with more parking, more books, more computer terminals, and more meeting rooms, all at a cost that for the average household is less then $20 a year in additional taxes. That seems like a damn good deal to me.