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Republican divide grows wider

Group publicly opposes Brownback policies

By The Mercury

We’re not sure how former U.S. Rep. Jan Meyers, a Republican who also was a Kansas state senator from the Kansas City area, was included in a list of current and former Republican officials who are supporting Lawrence Democrat Paul Davis’ bid to oust Gov. Sam Brownback.

However, unlike Clay Barker, the Kansas Republican Party’s executive director, who has accused Rep. Davis of “fraudulently” including Mrs. Meyers, our sense is that somebody in the Davis-Jill Docking campaign goofed. It is, after all, possible to be a member of Republicans for Kansas Values and still support Gov. Brownback, as Mrs. Meyers does.

The dust-up over Mrs. Meyers’ mistaken inclusion is embarrassing for the Democratic challenger. Yet it shouldn’t obscure the reality that an impressive list of Republican leaders, even if they aren’t diehard Davis backers, are decidedly cool to the direction in which Gov. Brownback is leading the state.

Their gripes aren’t new. Among their concerns are what they consider excessive cuts in education funding; Gov. Brownback’s tax “experiment,” which has compromised the state’s finances and hurt its credit rating; highway and health care policies and his proposals to alter the judicial system in ways that would give him more power over the courts.

It’s almost as if a green thumb in this red state poured Miracle-Gro on Reroute the Roadmap, a bipartisan group of six women who have taken issue with the “Roadmap for Kansas” that the governor unveiled during his 2010 campaign.

Membership in Republicans for Kansas Values extends statewide and reaches most levels of local and state government. It includes two former lieutenant governors, three former Senate presidents, three House speakers, the present insurance commissioner, current and former Senate and House members and former state and local Republican party chairs. Other members are city and county commissioners and school board members.

In Riley County, former state Sens. Lana Oleen and Roger Reitz, as well as Joleen Hill, a longtime former Manhattan-Ogden Board of Education member, are members of Republicans for Kansas Values. They’re hardly wild-eyed liberals, and they’re certainly not Democrats. Yet they have strong enough objections to Gov. Brownback’s philosophy and policies to want something else.

Whether enough other Republicans agree with them could well determine if Rep. Davis, who is the House Democratic leader but whose administrative abilities are untested, can defeat Gov. Brownback. There are more than 750,000 registered Republicans in Kansas and only about 420,000 registered Democrats. However, another 535,000 registered voters are unaffiliated, enough to make a difference — if they are impressed enough with Rep. Davis to vote for him.

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