So as I said a week ago, something is happening in Kansas. Republican incumbents are unexpectedly losing key races there, and now it’s affecting the calculus for whether Democrats retain control of the US Senate. The lamestream media seems amazed at this unexpected turn, but my friends who live in Kansas say they were expecting this to happen.
They say that extreme conservative governance by Sam Brownback using the Koch brothers’ formula has created a backlash. The way they explain it, the state’s imploding budget and declining credit rating already had folks simmering with discontent, but then things seemed to hit a boil this Summer with the resignation of an unqualified appointee.
Phil Hermanson, a former Wichita member of the Kansas House, stepped down as the top official responsible for detection of fraud and abuse in the $3 billion Medicaid program, known as KanCare, within the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
[…] He had started April 28 in a job with an annual salary of $77,000 despite lack of a professional background in accounting or related field beneficial to reviewing management of the health delivery system serving more than 400,000 poor, disabled and elderly Kansans.
He also had been convicted of a DUI following a traffic accident, filed for bankruptcy after a business failure and became tangled in campaign finance problems.
When Republican appointees in Kochland aren’t useless political hires, they’re extremists. Last year Brownback nominated a man who encouraged “forcible resistance” to stop the gentle death of Terri Schiavo for a seat on the Kansas Court of Appeals. That item caused Jason Probst of the Hutchinson News to make Brownback sound like Vladimir Putin:
First he purged the Kansas Senate of all who disagreed with him and installed hand-picked replacements who wouldn’t second guess him. Then, he moved to consolidate more power in the executive branch, and now he’s putting his pals up in high places to interpret the law exactly as the governor wants. If only he could’ve put more of his own people in the Kansas House this year.
One safe bet, however, is that the governor won’t soon end his practice of trying to make the Kansas Legislature and the Kansas judiciary little more than cabinet positions under his administration.
Brownback’s autocratic style has so far failed to bring prosperity to the state. The sense among residents that the sort of idiots and ideologues who led America astray before are speeding their state towards disaster now got another little boost just yesterday:
One of the officials at the center of the Bush administration’s U.S. attorneys scandal is helping to author briefs for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the lawsuit that could help determine one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country.
[…] (Bradley) Schlozman was one of several high-level Justice Department officials who left the department after TPM helped uncover politically motivated firings and conduct during President George W. Bush’s administration. He was said to have helped prevent the Civil Rights Division’s voting rights section from opposing voter ID laws and was also accused by former employees of adding negative comments in subordinates’ performance reviews if they didn’t follow the political line, as TPM reported at the time.
Which brings us back to the sudden national prominence of Kansas, because Kobach’s efforts to keep Democrat Chad Taylor on the ballot aren’t helping Pat Roberts against Independent Greg Orman — and as a result, Republicans are no longer favored to win the Senate in November. Kansas was supposed to be a model for government by CEO, but it may have become a millstone around the neck of the GOP.