The New York Times notes that, if elected – which seems virtually certain – Sam Brownback would become Kansas’ most conservative governor in decades.
While the governor’s office has flipped back and forth between moderate Republicans and Democrats, Mr. Brownback would be the first conservative to hold the office in at least a half century.
“At this point the conservatives have won,” said Boo Tyson, executive director of the MAINstream Coalition, a nonpartisan organization.
“The reality is,” said the current governor, Mark Parkinson, the former Republican chairman who left the party over his concerns about its shift rightward, “there will never again, ever, be a moderate Republican governor. Those days are over.”
Supporters of Mr. Brownback are looking forward to checking off a long conservative wish list — including tax cuts, spending freezes, regulatory rollbacks and new restrictions on abortion. “There is certainly excitement that when we put a bill on his desk that he is going to sign it,” said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life.
The saying in Kansas is that the state has three political parties: Conservative Republicans, Moderate Republicans and Democrats. Usually, when the moderate faction of the Republican party loses in the primary, many of them align with the Democrats in the general election (current Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius benefitted from this schism.)
The Mod/Con schism kept the conservatives out of the governor’s office until Sam Brownback threw his hat – and his immense personal popularity in Kansas – into the ring.
We shot a scene of a campaign rally for Senator Brownback, back in 2004, the last time he stood for election. He has avoided much of the media spotlight (especially after a scathing profile by Jeff Sharlet in a 2006 issue of Rolling Stone) and we were lucky to catch this glimpse of the candidate and his supporters.