Posts tagged with 2010 Elections

Holland calls on Brownback to denounce Engle

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Holland on Thursday called on his Republican opponent, Sam Brownback, to denounce Lou Engle, a controversial anti-homosexual minister, whom Holland compared to Fred Phelps. "I am calling on Sam Brownback to formally denounce Lou Engle -- not just `some' of his statements -- but his entire message of violence, hate and bigotry.

"Lou Engle sounds a lot like Fred Phelps," Holland said referring to the anti-homosexual preacher known for his protests at the funerals of soldiers killed in war. "But the difference is unlike Fred Phelps, Lou Engle lived with Sam Brownback in Washington, D.C.," Holland said.

Brownback, a U.S. senator, shared a condominium with Engle for seven months. Engle has gained a reputation for his opposition to gays and abortion.

Earlier this year, Engle went to Uganda while that country was considering legislation that could have resulted in the death penalty for some gays. Engle's critics said Engle praised those legislators who were pushing for that law. Engle has said his position was misunderstood.

In December, Brownback participated with Engle in a "PrayerCast" in which participants prayed against the passage of federal health care reform. Brownback has also spoken at rallies with Engle, and Engle had once said that Brownback would become president. Brownback ran for the Republican Party nomination for president in 2007 but was unsuccessful.

In recent days, Brownback has said he disagreed with some of Engle's statements. On Wednesday, he said he hadn't spoken to Engle for several months. Brownback said in the past he worked with Engle on measures that called for apologies for the treatment of Native Americans and African-Americans.

On Thursday, Brownback's campaign said the senator stood by his statements from the day before. E-mail messages left for Engle by the Lawrence Journal-World have not been returned.

Holland also said Brownback should say whether he would, if elected, continue an executive order established by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that bans discrimination in executive state agencies on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Brownback has said he will review all executive orders if elected. Holland said he supported the executive order.

By Scott Rothschild

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Advance voting begins for elections

Advance voting for the Nov. 2 election began Wednesday in Kansas.

Monday is the deadline to register to vote for election. Voters can check their registration or find information about how to register to vote at www.jocoelection.org.

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Brownback duels minor party candidates in last gubernatorial debate

The absence of Democrat Tom Holland from a gubernatorial debate Wednesday didn’t mean frontrunner Republican Sam Brownback got to coast. Reform Party candidate Ken Cannon and Libertarian Andrew Gray blasted Brownback over several of his major proposals, and Cannon warned voters against supporting Brownback because he associates with someone “who hates others.”

Cannon was referring to Brownback's ties to anti-homosexual evangelist Lou Engle.

After the debate, Brownback, a U.S. senator who had shared a condominium in Washington D.C. with Engle, said he disagreed with some of the things that Engle has said and hasn't spoken to him in months.

Engle, who is founder and president of The Call to Conscience, has discussed a possible national civil war to end abortion and praises politicians who denounce homosexuals.

Brownback has participated in religious rallies hosted by Engle. In December, Brownback spoke during a live video "PrayerCast" to oppose health care reform. Engle was also one of the speakers.

Engle traveled to Uganda earlier this year and prayed for the nation as its leaders considered anti-gay legislation that included the death penalty. Brownback said he disagreed with Engle's work in Uganda.

Brownback said he worked with Engle in forming national apologies to Native Americans and African-Americans. "He's big on reconciliation," Brownback said of Engle.

Brownback, who is anti-abortion, opposes gay marriage, and supports “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” declined to say whether he would continue an executive order put in place by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2007 that prohibits discrimination in executive state agencies based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He said he would review all current executive orders.

Holland was invited to the hour-long debate broadcast on WIBW radio and TV, but he declined because he said WIBW had already sponsored an earlier gubernatorial debate at the Kansas State Fair, and because the debate moderators were conservative radio talk show hosts Raubin Pierce and Megan Mosack. During debate, the two hosts repeated 12 times that Holland declined to appear.

Without Holland there, Cannon said the race came down to himself and Brownback, and he criticized Brownback on illegal immigration and school funding.

Cannon said that Brownback supported amnesty for illegal immigrants, a charge that Brownback denied, which prompted Cannon to call him a a flip-flopper.

Brownback has been a supporter of a proposal called the Dream Act, which would have allowed in-state tuition for the children of some undocumented immigrants, and provided a way toward permanent residency.

All three candidates at the debate said they supported requiring photo identification to vote.

Brownback stuck to his campaign themes of trying to improve the Kansas economy, emphasizing a proposal to use tax breaks to get people and companies to move to rural areas of the state.

But both Gray and Cannon criticized Brownback's proposal to establish an office of repealer that Brownback said would help businesses by getting rid of outdated regulations. Gray said creating the office would just add to state bureaucracy.

Earlier in the day, Holland was a guest on a radio show on KCUR where he also criticized Brownback's repealer office proposal, calling it a "shadowy government."

Holland called on Brownback to participate in more debates, saying the Republican was treating the campaign like a "coronation."

Brownback and Holland have only faced off in two debates -- the State Fair and one last week in Wichita, a 30-minute forum that featured all four candidates.

During the WIBW debate, Cannon also criticized Brownback’s proposal to freeze state spending, saying that would hurt public schools. Cannon said if elected, he would try to find a job for Brownback “but not in education.” Brownback responded that he wouldn’t want to work for Cannon, adding, “I’m not sure I would have a job for you.”

By Scott Rothschild

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Brownback tries to distance himself from evangelist Lou Engle

Republican gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback is trying to distance himself from controversial evangelist Lou Engle. "He (Engle) said a number of things that I'm troubled by," Brownback recently told the Lawrence Journal-World. "I haven't had much association with him for some period of time."

Brownback's comments were made in a quick question and answer opportunity after a news conference, and Brownback did not elaborate further.

In Tuesday's Topeka Capital-Journal, Kansas Democratic Party executive director Kenny Johnston said voters should be wary of the relationship between Engle and Brownback.

Engle, who is founder and president of The Call to Conscience, has discussed a possible national civil war to end abortion and praises politicians who denounce homosexuals.

In December, Brownback, a U.S. senator, spoke during a live video "PrayerCast" to oppose health care reform. Engle was also one of the speakers.

Engle has also been linked to efforts in Uganda for legislation that critics said would have allowed the execution of homosexuals. Engle and Brownback also shared a rented condominium for seven months in Washington D.C. after Brownback's apartment burned.

Engle has said he dreamed that Brownback would be president. Brownback ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2007 but was unsuccessful.

Brownback faces Democrat Tom Holland in the Nov. 2 election.

By Scott Rothschild

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Gubernatorial candidates tangle over taxes, schools

In their only televised debate in the race for governor, Democrat Tom Holland and Republican Sam Brownback on Thursday tangled over taxes and school funding. They were joined in the forum on KWCH-TV by Libertarian Andrew Gray and Reform Party candidate Ken Cannon.

On the issue of taxes, Holland proposed a commission to consider the state's numerous sales tax exemptions, and then have the Legislature vote up or down on the commission's recommendations.

"Some of those exemptions make sense, others don't," said Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City.

But Brownback, a U.S. senator, said removing tax exemptions was the same as raising taxes, which he said he opposed. He said the state needs to consider the totality of tax policy and see if there needs to be changes.

Both Gray and Cannon said they opposed increasing taxes. Cannon said he was the only candidate to support a so-called fair tax, a proposal to replace most taxes with a single sales tax.

On school finance, Holland said Brownback's intention to reform the school finance formula without saying how "should raise a lot of red flags." Holland said he opposes cutting school funding, and wants to increase money to education as the economy improves.

All four candidates said they opposed the statewide ban on indoor smoking in public venues, such as bars and restaurants. Holland voted against the ban during the last legislative session, saying the decision should be left up to local governments.

Brownback said he agreed with local control on the smoking issue, and expressed displeasure with the statewide ban's exemption of state-owned casinos, saying that was hypocritical. He said if elected governor he would be interested in imposing the smoking ban on casinos.

After record budget cuts in recent years, the candidates were asked how they would secure funding for social services.

Holland said he worked with a bipartisan group in the Legislature that did the hard work of passing a balanced budget that will provide services for vulnerable Kansans. "Sen. Brownback has never created a job or balanced a budget," he said.

Brownback said the key to providing funds for needed services was to improve the economy. "We have to grow our way out of this," he said, adding that means reducing regulations and holding down taxes.

The best one-liner in the debate may have been delivered by Cannon. Brownback referred several times during the debate to his policy statements contained in what he calls his "Road Map for Kansas." Cannon said, "Kansans are not lost. We don't need a road map."

After the debate, which lasted less than 30 minutes, Holland called for more candidate forums.

Brownback has agreed to one more debate later this month, but Holland has turned that one down, in part he said, because it is hosted by conservative talk radio hosts. There are no other debates scheduled at this time. The Thursday debate on KWCH will be broadcast on Saturday on KTKA in Topeka.

By Scott Rothschild

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Gubernatorial candidates to meet in Wichita for debate

In about the time it takes to make a frozen pizza, Kansans will have that much time to see the candidates for governor in their only televised debate. The event will start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at KWCH-TV studios in Wichita.

It will go until 7 p.m. with two commercial breaks. All four candidates on the ballot have been invited to share their views with the public. The debate will also be streamed live on KWCH.com.

The candidates include Democrat Tom Holland, Republican Sam Brownback, Libertarian Andrew Gray and Reform Party candidate Ken Cannon.

Holland and Brownback, the major political party candidates, have shared the stage once during the campaign.

That was at the traditional State Fair debate held Sept. 11 in Hutchinson. That debate was recorded for broadcast later on the radio.

Since then, the two camps have been dueling about debates.

Brownback agreed to debate Holland on a Topeka radio show, but Holland declined because the moderators are conservative talk show hosts and his campaign said it was unfair to other media to agree to a debate sponsored by the the same station that had done the State Fair debate.

Holland has called on Brownback to have at least three more face-offs, noting that Brownback made room in his schedule for nine debates when he was running for the Republican Party nomination for president in 2007.

But Brownback has said he is too busy campaigning across the state. Brownback, a U.S. senator, said he agreed to the Wichita debate because he said an early Senate adjournment allowed time in his schedule.

Chapman Rackaway, an associate professor of political science at Fort Hays State University, said from 1978 through 2006, gubernatorial candidates averaged approximately six debates.

At the State Fair debate, Holland, who faces an uphill climb against the better known and better funded Brownback, came out swinging.

Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, accused Brownback of being in the pocket of special interests at the expense of every day Kansans, while Brownback tried to tie Holland to President Barack Obama.

By Scott Rothschild

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Health care overhaul topic of debate

Candidates seeking the state’s 3rd District U.S. House seat sparred Wednesday evening over whether Congress should repeal the new federal health care overhaul. “I don’t believe the federal government, through mandates, is going to be able to cut costs and increase quality for Americans,” said Republican Kevin Yoder, who wants Congress to start over on health care reform.

But Democrat Stephene Moore said repealing the law would add to the federal deficit based on savings that were built in and that even though it wasn’t perfect, the overhaul has done some good things.

“This is a law now,” she said. “To me the idea of doing nothing was not an option.”

The candidates — along with Libertarian Jasmin Talbert who also said she would repeal the law — are vying to replace the retiring Rep. Dennis Moore, Stephene Moore’s husband, in the district that includes eastern Lawrence and Douglas County and Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

Yoder, a Kansas House member and attorney from Overland Park, argued that to pay for the health care changes the federal government would have to slash funding for Medicare and that an overhaul should include things like sharing health insurance across state lines and allowing small businesses to pool together.

“You’ve got to use the free market,” Yoder said.

But Moore said the law is having an important effect in several areas, including helping people with pre-existing conditions get insurance and allowing young people to remain on their parents’ insurance policies until the age of 26.

The three candidates appeared in a spirited one-hour debate at Johnson County Community College where supporters of each side often broke out in cheers and applause at times and shouted out questions at others.

Yoder said Congress should roll back nondefense spending to 2008 levels and institute more budget cuts. He also favors making the Bush tax cuts permanent and said Moore favors current policies that have so many people upset at the current Congress.

But Moore has said the district would benefit from her perspective because she has worked as a nurse. She said she would favor extending the Bush tax cuts for now while making them permanent for 98 percent of taxpayers and “temporary for the top 2 percent” of income earners.

She also said Yoder’s plans to cut federal spending would affect federal education spending.

“That is taking more money from our public education at all levels,” Moore said. “That’s K-12 on through college. There are students who very much depend on their student loans.”

Yoder’s campaign Wednesday announced it raised $730,000 in the last quarter, calling it an unofficial record for the district. Moore’s campaign did not publicly announce fundraising numbers Wednesday.

By George Dipenbrock

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Student leaders seek higher education funding commitment from candidates

Student leaders at Kansas University and the other five regents schools are seeking answers from the major political party candidates for governor on their commitment to higher education. In a letter sent to Republican Sam Brownback and Democrat Tom Holland, the students have asked whether the candidates will publicly support the $50 million "Kansas Commitment" that was recently approved by the Kansas Board of Regents.

"The `Kansas Commitment' is a much-needed and vitally important step towards reinvesting in our higher education system," said the letter sent by Michael Wade Smith, the KU student leader and his five colleagues representing Kansas State, Wichita State, Emporia State, Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State.

The plan would provide $20.5 million to cover inflation over the past three years, restore $15.75 million that had been cut from maintenance and repairs of buildings, and allocate $14.15 million targeted at increasing graduates in high-demand fields. The plan also supports starting a $10 million student financial aid program that would be funded through recouping state sales taxes on purchases made on campuses, and athletic department funds.

The student leaders said the plan is needed to start to offset record budget cuts of more than $100 million in state funding to higher education over the past two years.

"Investment in higher education can provide real and tangible results in strengthening our economy," the student leaders said. "Increasing the number of skilled graduates in high demand fields and increasing opportunities for lower and middle income students to attend college will undoubtedly produce tremendous results for the entire state."

The Journal-World has requested responses from Brownback and Holland and will update this story when they respond.

By Scott Rothschild

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Brownback, Colyer, Schmidt blast federal health reform

Republican candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general say they will fight the new federal health care law approved by Congress and President Barack Obama. "If fully enacted, the Obama Health Care plan would devastate the Kansas budget with unaffordable mandates, threatening every other priority in state government," a news release from gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback's campaign says. An independent study, however, shows that many Kansans will benefit under the new law.

Brownback, his lieutenant governor running mate, state Sen. Jeff Colyer of Overland Park, and GOP attorney general candidate state Sen. Derek Schmidt, of Independence, planned a news conference today at Brownback's campaign headquarters to discuss the federal health reform.

Earlier this year, a study projected that 200,000 Kansans who don't have health insurance now, will get it under the law.

With many of the major portions of the law taking effect in 2014, those getting insurance will do so through expansion of Medicaid, more large employee group policies and the new subsidized exchange markets, the report stated.

Total health care spending in Kansas, including state and federal government, employers and individuals, totals $13.418 billion per year. After the reforms take place, that total is expected to grow by about $150 million, or 1.1 percent, the report said.

The report notes that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which were originally designed as “safety-net” programs, will become the largest source of coverage.

Federal spending is expected to increase by more than $800 million per year to take care of the new Medicaid enrollees, the report said.

Meanwhile, state government spending is expected to remain flat; large employers will spend slightly more while small employers will spend much less.

The report was funded by United Methodist Health Ministries and was done by independent actuarial schramm-raleigh Health Strategy, based on Scottsdale-Ariz.

By Scott Rothschild

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Education group endorses Holland

A statewide public education advocacy group has endorsed Democrat Tom Holland for governor, saying that Republican Sam Brownback’s education proposals lacked detail. Kansas Families for Education announced Wednesday it also endorsed Democrat Stephene Moore over Republican Kevin Yoder in the 3rd Congressional District race. The district includes east Lawrence.

In the governor’s race, the group said when Brownback didn’t return a questionnaire about education issues, the group’s board reviewed Brownback’s “Road Map for Kansas Education” posted on his website.

“Several board members thought many of the ideals and broad themes in the document have merit. Ultimately, however, the board found too many details missing to allow them to make an informed judgment on your position on education issues,” the group said.

Brownback has said the school finance formula needs to be changed, but hasn’t said how. Holland supports the current formula and has said he would increase school funding as the economy improves.

By Scott Rothschild

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