Kansas Gov. Angers GOP Moderates, Dems with 'Conservative Revolution'

Image: Kansas Gov. Angers GOP Moderates, Dems with 'Conservative Revolution'

Friday, 14 Feb 2014 10:31 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is under attack from moderates in his own party for his “conservative revolution” while facing a stiff challenge from the leading state Democrat as he fights for re-election.

Brownback has fueled the longtime division in the state’s GOP by helping to push moderates out of the legislature while throwing his support behind conservative lawmakers, The New York Times reported.

A U.S. senator from 1996-2011, Brownback has won praise for cutting individual taxes, eliminating taxes for 200,000 small business, expanding gun rights, restricting abortion, reducing welfare rolls, and slashing government bureaucracy.

“We believe this is a strategy that builds a strong state in the future on the red state model,” Brownback, a favorite of Christian conservatives, told the Times.

“I think we are doing this aggressively, and I think you’re going to see some very good things moving forward. It’s not as if we haven’t tried the blue state model, because we have.”

On the other hand, Brownback has come under fire for hurting low-income Kansans by eliminating tax credits, and for the poor test results of black pupils. And although Brownback was voted into office with 63 percent in 2010, the election is expected to be much closer in November.

Democrat Paul Davis, the House minority leader in Kansas who’s challenge Brownback, has targeted the governor for the state’s education woes, claiming that he passed huge tax cuts when schools were massively underfunded.

“He has really set things up on an ideologically based model designed for his own political reasons, to try to gain him a good deal of attention nationally,” Davis said of the governor. “I don’t think people have reacted very well to that.”

The moderates in his party have accused Brownback of turning his back on them in primary elections while carrying out his “conservative revolution,” resulting in several state senators losing their seats.

But considering that President Barack Obama only received 35 percent approval rating in a recent Newhouse poll, the 57-year-old incumbent is expecting to be re-elected.

Democrats have noted, however, that Kansas, home state of Bob Dole and Dwight D. Eisenhower has elected five Democratic governors over the past 50 years, while several GOP chief executives have called themselves moderates.

Brownback, who once had a remote chance of becoming a GOP presidential candidate, is confident that the success of his policies will help to sweep him back into power later this year.

“It’s working,” he said. “I can tell you where you would’ve been had we not changed the policies. You’d be having higher unemployment, you’d continue to have out-migration in the state of Kansas.”

He added, “You wouldn’t have this level of job growth taking place. You would not have this number of new business formations, and you’d still have a broke state government.”

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