Denning emerged big winner from Tuesday’s primary
Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning had a lot at stake when he not only endorsed but campaigned for the quarter-cent public safety sales tax. His opponent even expressed pity for Denning being tied to what he was sure was an unpopular initiative while seeking re-election.
Now, with the benefit of Tuesday's primary results, it would appear that his support of the proposal cost Denning little with the county's Republican voters. Both Denning and the sales tax won with 5,000-vote margins, although the sales tax earned a smaller percentage of the vote from a bigger vote total. That suggests the sales tax was more popular with county Republicans than it was with Democrats and independents.
That, in turn, suggests Republican voters paid more attention to what the sheriff had to say about the sales tax and gave more credence to his views.
One has to suppose Denning was not overjoyed with the prospect of running for re-election with the distraction of the sales tax issue and the time commitment its support required in the waning weeks of the campaign. He could have remained neutral or even distanced himself from the tax. But he joined Johnson County Commission Chair Annabeth Surbaugh in making the case for the tax, meeting with media, taking part in public and debating its fiercest opponent on television. And in doing so, he gave respect to the proposal's most vocal opponent.
Politics can evoke cynicism and opportunism. Denning avoided both when dealt a difficult campaign.