TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – If last night’s election results are any indication, Kansas Republicans seem to be shifting more to the middle and away from the conservative platform of the recent past. The incumbent candidates ousted in last night’s primary election have thrown the Kansas GOP for a loop.
“Last night just showed the way that Kansas are wanting to shift Kansas to go in a different direction,” says Kansas Democratic Party Executive Director Kelly Gooch.
Republicans are feeling the swing themselves.
“There is a lot of people frustrated with not just what’s going on here in Kansas but Washington D.C., explains Kelly Arnold, Chairman of the Kansas Republican Party. “And it’s kind of an anti-incumbency issue.”
More than a dozen conservative, Republican lawmakers lost to their GOP challengers in the primary election.
Some of those names include Kansas Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce and US Congressman Tim Huelskamp. Lawmakers and political pundits see this as a referendum on state education funding and the tax policy’s impact on the budget.
“You don’t know how that’s going to translate into votes,” says Mark Tallman of the Kansas Association of School Boards. “But it seemed pretty clear, as in many contested races, the voters chose someone who is more identified with policies saying “we may have gone too far in our tax cuts.”
But even with the legislature leaning more moderate, legislators still have to deal with Governor Sam Brownback. KSNT News Political Analyst Dr. Bob Beatty says the governor’s low approval ratings likely played a factor.
“The successful challengers to conservative incumbents were successful probably because they tied them to Governor Brownback,” he explains. “I think, according to the results last night, that the majority of Kansas voters seem to want some compromise and seem to want some change in direction in order to address some of the big issues facing the state.”
Republicans like Kelly Arnold are hesitant to put the causation of last night’s results on approval ratings alone.
“I wouldn’t’ say it’s approval ratings of the Governor. I think it’s a lot of different issues.”
If these more moderate candidates win in November and form a partnership with democrats in January, they may have enough votes to overturn several of the governor’s more controversial policies.
In response to the results, republican state senate president Susan Wagle, said in a statement that “too many Kansans still feel that the sun is not rising for them and their families, despite what some leaders tell them.”