Republicans celebrate, look ahead at annual picnic
Republicans attending Saturday's annual GOP picnic in Tonganoxie’s VFW Park celebrated the party’s 2010 success and in particular the ascendency of its conservative wing while looking forward to further gains.
The event drew about 100 people out in the midday triple-digit July heat. That was about 100 fewer than the number attending last year’s event, but as local GOP activist Dennis Bixby noted it was a non-election year and Republican events were scheduled in Johnson and Wyandotte counties and elsewhere in the state.
Republicans swept statewide races last November, claiming landside victories in races for governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer and the U.S. Senate. Of those victorious candidates, Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Treasurer Ron Estes attended the Tonganoxie picnic.
Republicans also claimed all four of the state’s U.S. House seats and picked up 16 seats in the Kansas House to give the party a 92 to 33 advantage over Democrats.
Still, those at the picnic said the 2010 sweep wasn’t enough and looked to expand on that success next year.
There will be challenges, said Clayton Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party. The 2012 general election will be a rare one with no statewide race for a state office or U.S. Senate seat, meaning there will be no top-of-the ticket candidate leading organizational efforts. He also noted the Legislature would redraw Kansas House, Senate, State Board of Education and U.S. House districts during the 2012 legislative session with maps not final until June 2012.
With that change, the constant will be reliance on party members, such as those who showed up Saturday, Barker said.
State Rep. Connie O’Brien of Tonganoxie said work was needed to secure more election success. Important social and fiscal legislation languished in the Senate after winning approval in the more conservative Kansas House. What were needed were more gains by “good” Republicans, she said.