Archive for Friday, September 15, 2006

Welcome to “Campaign Briefing”

September 15, 2006

Campaigns that will decide the future of the state and its politics are under way and will culminate on Nov. 7. Between now and then, this blog - like its cousin "Congressional Briefing" - will provide the latest campaign news from outlets across the state.

Let us know what you think.

Here are today's headlines from the 2006 campaign:


(Wichita Eagle) SRS inquiry leads to reforms: The governor's investigation of a Wichita case has prompted reforms in the way state workers investigate reports of child abuse and has led to several people in the local child-protection office being disciplined. The investigation exposed "serious weaknesses in the system that need to be improved right now," Matt All, chief counsel for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, said Thursday. ... Told of Sebelius' action on SRS, her Republican challenger in the governor's race, state Sen. Jim Barnett of Emporia, said Thursday, "It is unfortunate that it took three years for the office of the governor to deal with what has been an ongoing issue."

Attorney General

(Wichita Eagle) Attorney general race too close to call: The two contenders in the campaign for state attorney general butted heads Thursday over crime and privacy in a Wichita debate, while a new poll shows the race is too close to call. Attorney General Phill Kline and his opponent, Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, repeatedly accused each other of distorting records, backgrounds, intentions and history itself.

(Hutch News) Pastors: Church, politics should not be mixed: Pulpits should be used for preaching, not politicking, several pastors from different denominations across the state said Thursday. The comments came in response to questions about political participation by religious organizations prompted by a leaked campaign memo. The document outlined Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline's efforts to boost his re-election campaign through appearances at conservative churches.

2nd District Congress

(Kansas City Star) Party and PAC money spigot shuts to a trickle as Boyda again challenges Ryun: Want an introduction to the harsh vagaries of political life? Look no further than Kansas' 2nd Congressional District. There, Democratic hopeful Nancy Boyda has gone from a well-funded national party darling to an afterthought in one political cycle. Democrats in Washington are increasingly confident this year that they will win control of the House, pointing to the biggest field of potential seat pick-ups since the 1994 Republican landslide. As many as 40 seats are in play, experts say. Yet that confidence has not spread to the eastern Kansas district, represented since 1996 by Republican Jim Ryun.

3rd District Congress

(Kansas City Star) Kansas congressman called soft on terror: The Republican candidate challenging U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore on Wednesday criticized his opponent's stance on the war on terror. During a news conference at his Overland Park campaign headquarters, Chuck Ahner said that Moore, a Democrat from Lenexa, wrongly voted to kill the Patriot Act last year and opposed the death penalty for terrorists. Moore's campaign manager, Julie Merz, said in a statement that Ahner was mischaracterizing Moore's stance on the issues.

Posted on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006


(AP Budget problems seen differently: Some Republican legislators expect the state to face significant budget problems within a few years, their opinions bolstered by projections that increased spending on public schools will create a budget shortfall by 2009. They are frustrated Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius repeatedly predicts no serious problem - and that voters don't seem to be pressing her. Sebelius, seeking a second term, remains confident that economic growth will allow the state to collect enough tax revenues to cover the promised spending.

(LJW) Catholic official chastises Sebelius: The Catholic archbishop for northeast Kansas has written a widely circulated editorial column criticizing Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is Catholic, and urging fellow church members to pray "that she might reconsider her long held position supporting legalized abortion."

From the notes of Lawrence Journal-World Statehouse reporter Scott Rothschild

There will be lots of poignant and funny comments made in the next few days in remembrance of Ann Richards, the former Texas governor who died Wednesday. Here's my favorite personal recollection of her. I covered her campaigns and administration as a reporter for The Associated Press in Austin.

In 1994, she held her annual Christmas party for the press in the governor's mansion. She had just been defeated by George Bush and was heading out of office.

At the party, Richards saw my wife, Sue, holding our son Joseph, who was then 6 months old. Richards came across the room and grabbed him into her arms and started to turn on the charm. Joseph looked at that hair and her beaming face and let out a cry of alarm. Richards' smile disappeared and she handed Joseph back to Sue and said knowingly, "I had one like this."

Posted Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006:


(Canton, Ohio Repository) Sebelius campaigning for Ohio Dem: Though Kathleen Sebelius governs a state 600 miles away, she senses Ohio voters are "poised" to put Democrats in power this coming election. Sebelius, governor of Kansas, joined local officials and party loyalists Tuesday evening in trying to capture enthusiasm and a sense of duty to end the Republicans' long hold on power. Her focus was on endorsing the candidacy of U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lisbon, the gubernatorial nominee.

(AP) Barnett: No in-state tuition for illegal immigrants: Kansas should not allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses or pay cheaper, in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Barnett said Tuesday. Barnett, speaking to reporters by telephone from Washington, D.C., criticized Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for signing a 2004 law granting in-state tuition to qualifying students who are illegal immigrants and for her past support of legislation allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

Attorney General

(AP) First Morrison ads appear on state TV: Democrat Paul Morrison begin airing his first two television ads in the attorney general race, ahead of Republican incumbent Phill Kline, designed to give voters a glimpse of what he stands for and who he is. Each of the 30-second ads seeks to portray the Johnson County district attorney as someone tough on crime who believes in the "right priorities." The ads started airing Tuesday on Topeka and Wichita stations, which cover much of western Kansas.

(Hutch News) E-mail fliers questioned: Attorney General Phill Kline's campaign used a list of e-mail addresses compiled through one of his office's Web sites to solicit funds for his November re-election bid. Although a state ethics official says there's no state law that forbids such a practice, a spokesman for the Democrat trying to unseat Kline in this fall's general election criticized the use of information compiled through Kline's capacity as a state official. "It doesn't seem to be appropriate," said Mark Simpson, campaign manager for Paul Morrison. Kline spokeswoman Sherriene Jones said there was nothing wrong with sending the messages and that those who didn't want to receive them could opt out of receiving them.

Other election news

(LJW) Republicans endorsing Democrats: In a state long known as rock-ribbed Republican, something big might be happening. Come the general election Nov. 7, the mighty GOP might be knocked to its knees.

Posted Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006


(Hutchinson News) Anti-abortion protestor on bug alert: Troy Newman of Towanda, leader of the anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue, said his appearance Saturday in a cockroach costume at the gubernatorial debate in Hutchinson was meant as "political satire, for crying out loud." "Who wasn't laughing?" Newman asked. Democrat Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' backers weren't laughing as Newman and another man wearing a cockroach outfit performed antics during the debate.

Attorney General

(LJW) Leaked memo shows Kline fundraising tactics: Atty. Gen. Phill Kline often talks about his Christian faith. But a leaked memo shows how Kline has mixed religion and money as part of an aggressive strategy to raise campaign funds and win re-election. "Get the pastor to invite 5 'money people,' whom he knows can help," Kline told his campaign staff in a detailed, four-page memo titled "church efforts." The anonymously leaked e-mail memo provides a rare, behind-the-scenes look at political fundraising and the methods the incumbent Republican is using as he faces Democratic challenger Paul Morrison, the Johnson County district attorney.

Other election news

(AP) State supreme court looking for new justice: he search has started for Justice Donald Allegrucci's replacement on the Kansas Supreme Court. The Supreme Court Nominating Commission announced Monday that it will take applications for the position until noon Oct. 16. Allegrucci turns 70 on Sept. 19, and state law prevents him from asking voters to keep him on the bench for another six-year term. He plans to retire Jan. 8.

Posted Monday, Sept. 11, 2006


(Kansas Public Radio) Recap of Sebelius-Barnett debate: The two candidates for governor in Kansas have sharply different views about the state of the Kansas economy. During a debate at the State Fair in Hutchinson on Saturday, they also offered different plans for how to improve the economy in the future. Statehouse reporter Peter Hancock was at the debate and files this report.

(The Leaven commentary) Catholic archbishop critical of Sebelius' position on abortion: On May 19, Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed Senate Bill 528. This bill passed by the Kansas Legislature required abortion clinics to provide information documenting the reasons for late term abortions. ... I urge all Kansas Catholics to pray for Gov. Sebelius that she might reconsider her long held position supporting legalized abortion. Regarding the Catholic Church's teaching concerning abortion, let no one be confused. The church's understanding, as reiterated by Pope John Paul II, has been clear and consistent for two thousand years.

(AP) DA to Consider Charges in Sebelius Protestor Attack: Reno County prosecutors today are expected to begin reviewing an assault report filed by a protester during a debate at the State Fair. A man who was wearing a cockroach costume to protest Governor Sebelius while she debated Republican challenger Jim Barnett claims he was assaulted by someone in the crowd Saturday. He and another man wore cockroach costumes bearing the governor's face.They handed out cards saying cockroaches at abortion clinics loved Sebelius because she vetoed an abortion clinic inspections bill.

Attorney General

(AP) Attorney general candidates offer study in contrasts: Over the course of a decade, a writer based a successful series of books on the premise that men are from Mars, women from Venus. In this year's campaign for Kansas attorney general, voters have plenty of reasons to wonder if a similar metaphor fits Republican incumbent Phill Kline and Democratic challenger Paul Morrison. Morrison, the Johnson County district attorney, has made much of spending most of his adult life as a prosecutor. His rhetoric hints at years of professional triage, deciding which cases his office has the resources to pursue. Kline's sphere for more than a decade has been statewide politics, first as a Kansas House member with unusual visibility, then as attorney general. It's a sphere with bully pulpits and legislative agendas, heavy on public advocacy.

2nd District Congress

(AP) Ryun, Boyda familiar foes in 2nd District contest: Nancy Boyda's message is similar to the one she had in running for Congress two years ago: Kansans are ready for change. Whether voters in the 2nd District are ready to have the Democrat replace Republican Jim Ryun will be decided Nov. 7. Two years ago, Boyda suggested Ryun didn't know what voters were saying about him; this year, she contends they are willing to give her a chance.

3rd District Congress

(LJW) Bush's political might wanes: In the 3rd District U.S. House race that includes eastern Lawrence, incumbent Democrat Dennis Moore is facing Republican nominee Chuck Ahner, a senior vice president and chief technology officer for PNC Bank Overland Park. Because Ahner is a challenger, Bush is less likely to actively campaign in the district, said Bryan Sanders, a spokesman for Ahner's campaign.

Other election news

(Reuters) Christian, environmental coalition forming:OVERLAND PARK - Coming soon to a movie screen near you: prayers, politics and a feature-length film, united in an effort to mobilize religious groups around global warming concerns in time for the U.S. midterm election. With a new documentary titled "The Great Warming" as their chief campaign tool, a coalition of religious leaders, environmentalists and businesses are spreading copies of the film into churches around the country. Voter guides and themed sermons are also part of the plan.

Posted earlier

Governor's race

( Blue govs in Red States: At least three of the 26 governors running for re-election face tough sledding... but ... Democrats in red states, on the other hand, may have an edge. Democratic Govs. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Brad Henry of Oklahoma and Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming all have approval ratings above the 60 percent mark in recent polls in states that overwhelmingly voted for President George W. Bush in the last election.

(AP) Barnett calls for break in unemployment taxes: Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Barnett is calling for a temporary halt to the collection of unemployment taxes paid by employers in Kansas. ... On Tuesday, Sebelius said a growing trust fund indicates economic growth and fewer people seeking benefits. "The last thing you want to do is deplete a fund, only to find out six or eight months from now that you're going to need it. I'm looking forward to getting that recommendation" from the advisory panel, Sebelius said. "All signals are that we definitely have a growing economy."

(Salon) Kansas Republicans evolve into Democrats: Moderates and social conservatives have been battling for the soul of the Kansas GOP since 1994, when the conservatives first won control of the party machinery. Although registered Republicans outnumber Democrats 2 to 1, Kathleen Sebelius is about to exploit that ideological schism to win a second term by a comfortable margin. In 2002, she beat a conservative Republican nominee by appealing to voters who care more about schools and taxes than abortion and evolution -- and by recruiting a centrist Republican to run as her lieutenant governor. Four years later, Sebelius has again tapped a moderate Republican as her running mate, and this time eight other party-switchers will join her on the Democratic ticket. Depending on whom you believe, in her cross-the-aisle raids Sebelius has either found an effective strategy for turning Kansas a little less red, or she has used her personal popularity to mask the slow decline of her party.

(Wichita Eagle) Minor party candidates miffed at debate snub: Two minor-party Wichita candidates for governor are upset that they won't be allowed to participate in upcoming candidate forums. Richard Ranzau, Reform Party candidate, and Carl Kramer, Libertarian Party candidate, claim their exclusion stifles the flow of ideas and public discourse. The major-party candidates, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Republican state Sen. Jim Barnett, have four debates scheduled, starting with Saturday's appearance at the Kansas State Fair. A fifth debate is in the works.

(From Washburn University professor Bob Beatty) First Sebelius-Barnett poll since primary shows Sebelius up by 11: Sebelius' 11 point lead represents what is now a fairly (and strikingly) consistent 8-13 point lead over Barnett in RR polls taken since January. This lead has remained consistent through the legislative session, the GOP primary, Barnett's victory, and Sebelius' first three TV ad campaigns ("Respect," "Clips" and the now famous ad of the Governor driving a school bus). The poll can be found at

(Kansas Public Radio) Sebelius in re-election bid: Four years ago, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius was elected governor of Kansas. Since then she's spent much of her time battling a Republican-controlled legislature over issues such as education funding, health care reform and budget priorities. She's now running for re-election against Republican challenger Jim Barnett. Statehouse reporter Peter Hancock spoke recently with Sebelius about her re-election campaign and asked her why voters should give her a second term in the governor's office.

(AP) So far, abortion is a backburner issue: Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Republican challenger Jim Barnett hold sharply contrasting views on abortion, but both have shied away from the issue while campaigning.

(Hutch News) GOP nominee thinks Sebelius commercials are 'turning people off': Republican nominee for Kansas lieutenant governor Susan Wagle said she's seen some "really good" polling data recently that is encouraging for the Barnett-Wagle ticket. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' television commercials are "turning people off," Wagle said Thursday night, addressing Reno County Republicans at the Grand Prairie Hotel and Convention Center, Hutchinson.

(Hutch News) Kansas leaders say they'll wait for federal carbon caps: Kansas officials said Thursday they'd prefer to wait for the federal government to place new caps on carbon emissions rather than follow California's aggressive approach to curb global warming. ... Those can help reduce emissions, but any major policy overhaul should be done at the federal level, said Joe Harkins, natural resources advisor to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. ... Kansas should do more to address energy issues, said Sen Jim Barnett, the Republican candidate for governor. "Certainly California's one of the greatest contributors of pollution in our nation, so that's a very favorable step on their part," Barnett said of the new regulation.

(Kansas Public Radio) Interview with Jim Barnett: :Until this summer, Kansas State Senator Jim Barnett was relatively unknown outside the statehouse and his hometown of Emporia. Today, he's the Republican nominee for governor, and he faces the task of trying to unseat incumbent Democrat Kathleen Sebelius in November. Besides serving in the Senate, Barnett is also a practicing physician. KPR's Peter Hancock recently spoke with him about his campaign... and asked Barnett what prompted him to add a political career on top of his medical practice.

(AP) Legal status checked before state aid: Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has directed state agencies to make sure they verify that adults receiving social services are legal Kansas residents, a move that she said Wednesday was prompted by a new federal law. ... Sen. Jim Barnett, the GOP gubernatorial nominee, has repeatedly criticized Sebelius over support for a 2004 law allowing some illegal immigrants to pay lower tuition reserved for other Kansas residents attending state universities and colleges.

(AP) Sebelius launches another school ad: Having already portrayed herself as driving the state toward better schools, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has a new TV campaign ad suggesting she brought order to a previously unruly legislative debate about education funding. The new ad began Tuesday in Topeka and Wichita and will start later this week in the Kansas City area. It starts with Sebelius standing in front of a classroom full of arguing, paperwad-chucking adults, saying, "Yep, this is how things used to be."

(Hutch News) Ranzau miffed over debate exclusion: Reform Party gubernatorial candidate Richard Ranzau won't be on stage when Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, and Republican gubernatorial nominee State Sen. Jim Barnett, Emporia, debate at 11 a.m. Sept. 9 at the Kansas State Fair. Ranzau issued a recent press release protesting his exclusion by the media sponsor. "They have decided to cater to the 'major' parties despite the fact that many Kansans are registered as independents while many others are frustrated with politics as usual," Ranzau said.

(Wichita Eagle) GOP unites behind Barnett for governor: State Sen. Jim Barnett, the Republican nominee for governor, announced endorsements Monday by a virtual Who's Who of Kansas Republican politics. U.S. senators and representatives, ex-governors, statewide office-holders and legislative leaders all added their names to the list. Republicans endorsing a Republican might be taken for granted elsewhere, but not in Kansas. Four years ago, departing Gov. Bill Graves waited six weeks after the primary before endorsing Republican nominee Tim Shallenburger, then took no active role in his campaign. The two were often at odds when Shallenburger was House speaker.

(Topeka Capital-Journal) State farmers offer mixed picture: Sebelius on Monday said she planned to propose funding for a new Office of Rural Development that would employ economic development strategists to help small towns develop revitalization plans. She said the Kansas Farm Bureau already has been working with communities on economic development plans, and her office likely would work with the farm organization. ... Of Sebelius' rural development plans, Barnett said tax cuts would work better than new government jobs. "The way we grow the economy of western Kansas is to make our state a business-friendly state and lowering taxes," he said.

Attorney General's race

(AP) Troopers group gives nod to Kline: A group that represents more than 500 active and retired Kansas Highway Patrol troopers has endorsed Attorney General Phill Kline for re-election. The incumbent Republican is seeking a second term, facing Democrat Paul Morrison, the Johnson County district attorney, in the Nov. 7 general election.

(KC Star) Kline defends record: Republican Phill Kline urged voters Wednesday to look at his record as Kansas attorney general in protecting the state's water rights and protecting children from sexual predators. He also addressed part of his record that has drawn criticism from his opponent, Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, a Democrat. On Tuesday, Morrison accused Kline of conducting a fishing expedition by going to court to obtain medical records of women who have had abortions. Kline has said he was investigating allegations of child rape and illegal abortions. Kline, an ardent abortion opponent, said he spent only about 1 percent of his time on this investigation.

(AP) Business PAC endorses Kline: The Kansas Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee has endorsed Republican Attorney General Phill Kline over his Democratic challenger, Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison.

(Wichita Eagle) Brownback endorses Kline: In endorsing the re-election bid of state Attorney General Phill Kline, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that he doesn't understand why Kline's effort to obtain abortion clinic medical records has become the most contentious issue of the campaign.

(LJW) AG candidate says he'll halt abortion clinic investigations: Democrat Paul Morrison said Tuesday that if elected attorney general he would end an investigation into two abortion clinics and instead commit the office's resources to other uses, such as prosecuting domestic violence. ... Kline's campaign criticized Morrison for his comments on the abortion clinic probe and said Kline had done a good job raising awareness of domestic violence.

(AP) Kline and Morrison locked in battle for attorney general: With both attorney general candidates busy talking tough on crime, Republican incumbent Phill Kline's anti-abortion politics and Democrat Paul Morrison's party switching have become issues that can't be ignored. Kline has been criticized for trying to get access to information in patient records at two abortion clinics. He's been lionized by his fellow abortion opponents, but he's been accused of pursuing a narrow, ideological agenda. Meanwhile, Morrison has been branded an opportunist for abandoning his fellow moderate Republicans and seeking the Democratic nomination as a better platform for unseating Kline. Activists in both parties consider the attorney general's race to be the contest most worth watching before the Nov. 7 general election.

Kansas Board of Education

(Agape Press commentary) Official Cries Foul as Liberals Take Over Kansas Education Board: A conservative member of the Kansas State Board of Education claims the "lying liberal media" defeated her in last week's primary election. She and other conservative Republicans lost their 6-4 majority and control of the Board just nine months after voting to enact science standards that require critical analysis of evolution -- including scientific evidence refuting the theory -- in school classrooms statewide.

3rd District Congress

(KPR) Campaign interview with Democrat Moore: Kansas Congressman Dennis Moore has never had an easy election. As a Democrat who represents a largely-Republican district, he's often listed as one of the most vulnerable members of the U-S House. But so far he's managed to hold on, and this year he's running for a fifth term representing the 3rd District of eastern Kansas. Statehouse reporter Peter Hancock spoke with Moore recently about this year's campaign and asked him why he thinks the voters should elect him to another term.

(University Daily Kansan) Candidate speaks at ECM: A U.S. House of Representatives candidate spoke at a university forum Wednesday at the Ecumenical Christian Ministries. Chuck Ahner, a Republican, spoke to about 35 people about his candidacy and what he could offer if voted into Congress. ... Ahner said he hoped people could look beyond his lack of name recognition. "People look for star power to go to Washington," Ahner said. "I ask people to look at my record."

(Lawrence Journal-World) Only 1 candidate attends health forum: A would-be health care debate was whittled down to basically a one-candidate question-and-answer session Tuesday at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Nancy Boyda, who is running for the Kansas 2nd District congressional seat, was the only candidate to show, disappointing dozens at the hospital hoping to hear health care perspectives from all four local congressional candidates. Republican Rep. Jim Ryun, the 2nd District incumbent, and Chuck Ahner, Republican 3rd District candidate, couldn't attend the event.

(Kansas Public Radio) Ahner takes on Moore: This year's race in the 3rd Congressional District of Kansas features a relative newcomer to politics who is going up against a three-term incumbent. Republican Chuck Ahner is a graduate of West Point and spent 10 years in the military before going into private business. He won a four-way primary in August for the right to challenge Democratic Congressman Dennis Moore in the district that covers Johnson, Wyandotte and part of Douglas counties. Kansas Public Radio's Peter Hancock recently spoke with Ahner and asked him why he thinks he should be elected to Congress.

(Kansas Public Radio) Paul Morrison Interview: Voters in Kansas haven't elected a Democrat to the office of attorney general in more than 30 years. But Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison hopes to end that streak in November. In fact, he's so confident that he can beat the Republican incumbent Phill Kline, he switched parties last year just so he could challenge Kline in the general election. Kansas Public Radio's Peter Hancock spoke with Morrison recently about the campaign and asked him why he thinks he should be elected attorney general.

( commentary) Kansas Abortion-Sexual Abuse Probe an Issue in Attorney General Race: A probe Attorney General Phill Kline conducted earlier this year into whether young girls had been raped and had abortions to cover up the actions is playing a key role in his campaign for re-election. Kline is coming under attack from Democrat Paul Morrison, who says the investigation was a violation of privacy. ... Kline said his investigation was not a part of a political agenda but a legitimate effort to protect girls in Kansas. "When I have a 10-year-old who gets pregnant and gets a late-term abortion and was impregnated at the age of 9, and no one calls the police, I don't consider it a narrow agenda to try and bring her rapist to justice," he told the Dodge City Daily Globe. ... Morrison, the Johnson County District Attorney, is attempting to make the effort to protect Kansas girls an issue in the race. He told the Globe newspaper he disagreed with the probe. "It is disingenuous for Mr. Kline to try to justify his serious violation of privacy by claiming to investigate child rape, because three-quarters of the records belong to adult women," he claimed.

2nd District Congress

(AP) Boyda and Ryun in rematch: Nancy Boyda's message is similar to the one she had in running for Congress two years ago: Kansans are ready for change. Whether voters in the 2nd District are ready to have the Democrat replace Republican Jim Ryun will be decided Nov. 7.

(Topeka Capital-Journal) Ryun agrees to another debate: Congressional candidates Nancy Boyda and Jim Ryun agreed Thursday to at least one more television debate before voters hit the polls. However, viewership will be limited to people in Leavenworth and Lansing watching the local government access channel. Boyda, the Democrat Party's nominee, had accused Republican incumbent Ryun on Wednesday of sidestepping one-on-one encounters. The congressman's campaign responded Thursday by announcing Ryun would appear at a candidate forum Oct. 21 at Leavenworth City Hall sponsored by the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce. The forum is to be broadcast up to 10 times before the Nov. 7 general election.

(Kansas Public Radio) Boyda says Ryun ducking issues:Illegal immigration and a proposed free-trade corridor between the United States and Mexico are two issues dominating the 2nd Congressional District race in Kansas. Incumbent Republican Jim Ryun said this week he still supports an immigration bill passed earlier by the House that would increase criminal penalties on illegal immigrants. But his Democratic challenger Nancy Boyda fired back yesterday (Wed.), accusing Ryun of dodging the entire issue of the proposed free-trade corridor, which she says would pose a bigger threat to national security than illegal immigration.

(Lawrence Journal-World) Only 1 candidate attends health forum: A would-be health care debate was whittled down to basically a one-candidate question-and-answer session Tuesday at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Nancy Boyda, who is running for the Kansas 2nd District congressional seat, was the only candidate to show, disappointing dozens at the hospital hoping to hear health care perspectives from all four local congressional candidates. Republican Rep. Jim Ryun, the 2nd District incumbent, and Chuck Ahner, Republican 3rd District candidate, couldn't attend the event.

1st District Congress

(AP) Moran campaign cruising: Rep. Jerry Moran appears so confident he will keep his 1st District congressional seat that he has not opened a campaign office. He has not set up a campaign phone line, nor has he hired a campaign manager. Taking on the seemingly unshakable incumbent is a newcomer to politics: John Doll, a Democrat and owner of a lawn chemical spraying company in Garden City who is running for public office for the first time.

Election 2006

(Iola Register commentary) Swats at court accomplish nothing: State Sen. Derek Schmidt of Independence, who represents our senatorial district, has a bone to pick with the 19 school districts who ponied up $3.2 million to sue the state over the school financing formula. "This is about taxpayers financing litigation against themselves," Sen. Schmidt told a Topeka Capital-Journal reporter. "I just strongly doubt that most taxpayers think that's a good idea." The lawsuits moved from district court to the state Supreme Court over eight long years of argument and counter-argument. And the money spent on the case directly by the school districts was a small part of the cost. The Legislature itself spent "taxpayer money" back in 2000 to have the Denver consulting firm, Augenblick and Myers, determine what it would cost to provide a suitable education to the state's children.

(Harris News Service) Endorsements all the rage: It's endorsement season in state politics.Within the last few weeks, political candidates from Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jim Barnett to Attorney General Phill Kline and his Democratic challenger Paul Morrison have touted the support they've received from political bigwigs and lobby groups.

(LJW) Voters on defense: Project Vote Smart, a nonpartisan research library, is offering for free its 2006 Voter Self-Defense manual, which provides information on candidates in Kansas seeking public office.

(KC Star) Election alerts aimed at youth: Launched about three months ago, the service allows voters to receive electronic notices of election dates, advance voting and polling place changes on their computer, cell phone, iPod or other communication device. The effort recently garnered Newby a best-practices award from the National Association of Election Officials in Houston. "It targets a group of people who don't normally vote," said Janis Womack, who heads the nonprofit organization's awards committee. "Two years from now we'll see if it increases voter turnout."

From the Journal-World notebooks: And then there were three: House Majority Leader Clay Aurand, R-Courtland, has taken himself out of the race for House speaker, leaving three candidates, Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, and Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing. Aurand said he intends to run again for majority leader. Current speaker, Doug Mays, R-Topeka, is leaving the Legislature.

(LJW) Low turnout prompts call for new primary date: Described as "horrendous," Kansas' 18.2 percent voter turnout in the Aug. 1 primary may prompt a change in future primary election dates, officials said Wednesday. "It's time to at least look at the date when Kansans cast their primary votes," said Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh. "We can't ignore the horrendous turnout from this last primary." Gov. Kathleen Sebelius echoed his concern.

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