Gubernatorial race is a given in ’14 election

opinions

August 6, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, is a keen observer of the Kansas political scene.
Loomis shares his thoughts with Register readers every now and then. Most recently he predicted Paul Davis, House minority leader, would be Gov. Sam Brownback’s opponent in the 2014 general election.
His familiarity with Davis — they’ve known each other for years — and the fact that few Democrats, much less Republicans, will leap at the opportunity to take on a sitting Kansas Republican governor, gave Loomis occasion to forecast a Davis-Brownback race.
Others will shy from running, Loomis and most other observers think, because of Brownback’s political upside, which he has spent a lifetime honing. Since his days in student politics at Kansas State University, Brownback has been in campaign mode.
He reached the U.S. Senate, quickly realized that his brand of conservatism would not play well nationally in what turned out to be a short run for president, and then returned to Kansas. As candidate for governor in 2008, he shed opponents like the well-oiled feathers of a duck repels rain.
Even so, Loomis thinks Kansans’ dissatisfaction with Brownback’s ultra-conservative governance — funding cuts all around including education and strong conservative stands on social issues — will give Davis a fighting chance.
The fabled answer, of course, is time will tell, and it would appear time will run out rather quickly for Davis or any other candidates, of either political persuasion, who challenges Brownback and his cadre of veteran campaign aides.
The 2014 election is likely to be a foregone conclusion 30 seconds after polls close at the primary election — if not before.
The real intrigue will unfold four years hence, when Brownback will be nearing the end of his second, and mandatory last, four-term occupation of Cedar Crest.
While it’s far too early for any candidates to indicate an interest in public view, a good many are ready to break from the gate.
Derek Schmidt is the consummate campaigner, and there’s no plausible reason to think he means for the attorney general’s office to be the last stop in his career.
Likewise, Secretary of State Kris Kobach salivates every time an open race for the governor’s seat is mentioned. Jeff King, who took Schmidt’s seat in the Kansas Senate and also is from Independence, is certainly in an upward mode.
And there is no dearth of pretenders elsewhere in the Republican and Democratic ranks.
The 2014 race may have a  tad of excitement — expect Brownback to win in a walk — but come 2018 Kansans will have a ring-side seat for a real horse race for the governor’s seat.
— Bob Johnson

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