Wichita State News

A new direction for Kansas politics and policies

Thursday, August 23, 2012

This WSU Newsline Podcast is available at http://www.wichita.edu/newslinepodcast. See the transcript below:

You’re listening to the podcast edition of the Wichita State University audio newsline. Learn more about WSU on the Web at wichita.edu.

Reporters from Reuters, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal descended on Kansas in August to cover a political contest they viewed to be of national significance, that is, a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party in the reddest of red states.

Ed Flentje
Ed Flentje
Barring some surprises in the November elections, Kansas politics will again be led by Republicans. That’s hardly news, but the direction of the Republican Party is significantly different, according to Wichita State University political analyst Ed Flentje.

Flentje: “The primary elections indicate a new direction in Kansas politics and in Kansas policy. Moderates in the Kansas Senate contested for 21 races out of 40, and they lost 15 of them.”

According to Flentje, the recent Kansas primary had more hotly contested races than usual.

Flentje: “The Kansas primary elections, particularly the Republican primary elections, were the most hotly contested in the history of the state. A good bit of money flowed in to candidate campaigns. Outside groups were active in the campaign. And even with all the outside funding, turnout was fairly low.”

Although Republican candidates will be heavily favored in the general election in Kansas, Flentje says there could be some competitive races.

Flentje: “Of course, the primary elections are one conclusion, but 31 of the 40 (Senate) seats will be contested by Democrats in the general election. And the outcome there is yet to be determined. Moderate Republicans, Independents, may defeat some of the Republican victors.”

Flentje says the governor’s tax plan is the most controversial aspect of Kansas politics right now.

Flentje: “The most controversial element in these races is the governor’s tax plan, which was fiercely debated, and essentially has eliminated the state income tax for certain categories of persons and businesses. And whether that will miraculously succeed or not is yet to be decided.

“The most significant changes will probably be in public finance. Gov. Brownback and some of the interest groups supporting him want to eliminate the state income tax. That would likely require a shift of public obligations to being financed by sales and property taxes.”

According to Flentje, a lot is at stake with the governor’s tax policy.

Flentje: “If Gov. Brownback’s tax miracle succeeds, he will likely be a hero and those who support him will as well. If it does not, the impact will be felt in public schools, social services and a variety of areas that may come back to change direction again.”

Thanks for listening. Until next time, this is Joe Kleinsasser for Wichita State University.

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Created on Thursday, August 23, 2012; Last modified on Thursday, August 23, 2012