Archive for Wednesday, November 1, 2006

On the campaign trail

Candidates outline statnces at Tonganoxie political forum

November 1, 2006

Candidates, their representatives and area voters showed up in full force for last Saturday's political forum.

With next Tuesday's election just a week away, the event drew a packed house to Tonganoxie's VFW Hall.

Paul Morrison, Democratic candidate for attorney general, was the first candidate to stand up for his five minutes in front of voters. Morrison is running against incumbent attorney general Phill Kline.

Morrison, who is Johnson County's prosecutor, said he's proud of his record of tackling violent crime.

"We have lowered the homicide rate in my years as district attorney, despite the fact that we've had explosive growth," he said. "And there are 520,000 people that live in Johnson County and they're not all Ward and June Cleaver."

Morrison said he's led an effective campaign against domestic violence and methamphetamine. And he said he wrote the original act that resulted in the commitment of about 100 sexual predators to Larned State Hospital.

"That's how you take the bite out of crime," Morrison said. "Those people in that program had committed thousands and thousands of sex crimes, mostly against children."

Morrison, who said he'd spent his life in public service and had tried 100 criminal jury trials, described Kline as a "career politician."

"If you look at this race ... it's a very, very, very clear choice," Morrison said.

On Kline's behalf

Speaking for Kline, Steve Fitzgerald asked those in the audience who planned to vote for Morrison to raise their hand and he asked for the same sign from those who planned to vote for Kline. Then he asked for those who were undecided. Few, if any, hands went up.

"We have nobody here who has not already made up their minds," Fitzgerald said. "That's discouraging because the people in the middle aren't coming out."

Fitzgerald noted the county's dismal voter turnout of 11.8 percent in the August primary election. He said part of that could be blamed on negative tactics in campaign advertising.

"We have to become more positive," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald urged voters to keep Kline in office, saying:

"If you are a criminal, if you are a child abuser ... if you are violating the laws of the citizens of Kansas, then Phill Kline is your worst nightmare."

Fitzgerald said Kline may be a career politician.

"He's also been a legislator and he's helped to write the laws and he's voted on laws," Fitzgerald said. "He has proven experience. The people of Kansas need someone who can defend them, not just prosecute them."

Fitzgerald said Kline won two U.S. Supreme Court cases -- one supporting capital punishment and another protecting Kansas water rights.

"He's batting 1,000," Fitzgerald said.

Attorney for Sebelius

Leavenworth attorney Mike Crow spoke on behalf of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is running for a second term. Crow earned a round of laughter from his initial comment.

"I'm Mike Crow and I don't look anything like Kathleen Sebelius," he quipped.

On a serious note, Crow, who said he's known the Democratic governor and her husband for 30 years, said Time magazine named Sebelius as one of the top five governors in the nation.

"She's someone who has led us through some tough economic times, and now we're heading toward good economic times," Crow said.

Crow said Sebelius has made a positive impact on public education.

"She's been involved in the fight for better education for our school children," Crow said.

Gubernatorial challenge

Jim Barnett's campaign manger, Christian Morgan, spoke for the Republican who is challenging Sebelius.

Morgan said he respected Sebelius, personally and politically.

He talked about how Barnett, a physician, didn't start out to be politician.

"He grew up wanting to be a physician, he grew up wanting to be a good man in his community, he grew up wanting to be a good father, a good husband," Morgan said.

Morgan said when Sebelius proposed a tax increase in 2003, Barnett was among those who protested.

"He wants to cap property tax evaluation at age 65," Morgan said. "Whatever it is when you turn 65, it's going to stay there until you move out."

And Morgan said Barnett spearheaded a Senate health policy bill that passed.

"It's going to lower prescription drug costs, it's going to lower health care costs," Barnett said.

Challenger for House

Nancy Boyda is running on the Democratic ticket against incumbent Jim Ryun for the U.S. House of Representatives. Boyda said the nation needs to break the ties between money and elections.

"The big billion-dollar lobbyists aren't influencing Congress -- they're running the place," Boyda said. "The money process in Washington has become so corrupt that both sides have their problems. We've got to come together ... and do something about that."

And Boyda advocated for increased access to health care.

"It's a moral crisis that we have 47 million people that are uninsured," Boyda said. "Not moving forward is not an option."

She said other big issues are energy policy and the environment.

No one spoke on Ryun's behalf.

Also on the stump

Others who spoke included:

  • Corey Mohn, a Democrat who's running for the 39th District, which includes Basehor. Mohn's opponent is Republican Owen Dohonoe. They are vying to fill the seat of Rep. Ray Cox, R-Bonner Springs, who is retiring.
  • J.C. Tellefson, who is running for the first district seat on the Leavenworth County Commission. His Democratic challenger, Ed Sass, did not attend the event. One of the two men will replace Don Navinsky, who is retiring.
  • Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, who's running unopposed for re-election to a Kansas House seat that represents Tonganoxie, as well as other areas in Leavenworth County.

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