Kansas political news: Five things you may have missed but need to know


Good morning:

Tuesday was hopping with news everywhere. Kevin Yoder and Sharice Davids debated for the first — and last — time before next week’s election. So did the candidates for governor.

Greg Orman’s treasurer — former state Sen. Tim Owens of Overland Park  — called it quits and endorsed Democrat Laura Kelly.

Democratic secretary of state candidate Brian McClendon — the Google guy — is raising an unprecedented amount of money. And Steve Bannon came to town to meet, well, with a room full of people — if that many. Let’s get started.

Yoder/Davids debate

Despite saying how much they despised participating in a debate organized by The Kansas City Star, the Yoder campaign did it anyway. Guess that’s what happens when you’re down in the polls and the challenger sets the terms of where they’ll debate.

The debate came hours after President Donald Trump tweeted his support for Yoder. In short, Yoder went on the offensive, labeling Davids as a radical, left-winger out of touch with the 3rd District. Here’s the coverage from the KC Star, KMBCFox 4 and The Associated Press.

Kobach leading — barely

A new poll done by Emerson College found Republican Kris Kobach barely leading Democrat Laura Kelly in the Kansas governor’s race.

The poll of nearly 1,000 registered voters found Kobach leading Kelly 44 percent to 43 percent, with independent Greg Orman once again in a distant third at 8 percent.

The survey’s margin of error was 3.3 percentage points, so clearly the race can swing either way. The poll showed that women were backing Kelly in slightly higher numbers than Kobach, 45 percent to 41 percent. Men, meanwhile, are supporting Kobach 48 percent to 41 percent.

The poll also looked at each of the state’s four congressional races, albeit with much smaller sample sizes and much larger margins of error.

In the Kansas 1st District, Republican Roger Marshall led Democrat Alan LaPolice 51 percent to 36 percent, with 13 percent undecided and a margin of error of 6.6 percentage points. Sample size was 221 registered voters.

In the 2nd District, Republican Steve Watkins led Democrat Paul Davis 48 percent to 41 percent, with 8 percent undecided and a margin of error of 6.5 percentage points. Sample size was 231 registered voters.

In the 3rd District, Democrat Sharice Davids led Republican Kevin Yoder 55 percent to 43 percent, with 1 percent undecided and a margin of error of 6.3 percentage points.  Sample size was 262 registered voters.

In the 4th District, Republican Ron Estes led Democrat James Thompson 63 percent to 33 percent, with 4 percent undecided and a margin of error of 6.3 percentage points. Sample size was 262 registered voters.

Bannon visits

It was labeled a rally: Red Tide Rising. But at most it was a couple dozen people turning out at the Topeka Holiday Inn Express to greet conservative icon and former White House political strategist Steve Bannon.

The Topeka newspaper covered the event, which it characterized as a “micro rally.” Referring to himself as “sloppy Steve,” Bannon said it was vital for the Trump base to get out and vote next week if Democrats are to be defeated. Here’s another account — basically a summary of the Capital-Journal story — from Business Insider.

2nd District race tight

The New York Times and Siena College just wrapped up their live poll of the 2nd Congressional District race between Democrat Paul Davis and Republican Steve Watkins. It showed Davis leading Watkins 41 percent to 37 percent, with 15 percent undecided. It also found that 48 percent viewed Davis favorably, compared to 31 percent who viewed him unfavorably. Watkins’ unfavorables, meanwhile, were at 41 percent, compared to his favorables at 39 percent. KCUR’s Jim McLean has a story that looks at the closeness of the race.

‘Trump before Trump’

ABC News looks at Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in his bid for Kansas governor and not only what it means for Kansas but for the rest of the country. The story suggests that if Kobach wins the governor’s race, Kansas will become a petri dish for President Donald Trump’s policies and much more.

Ford County responds to polling place lawsuit

Ford County on Tuesday filed its response to a lawsuit asking a federal judge to order the county to open a second polling location in Dodge City for the general election.

At issue is the county clerk’s decision to relocate Dodge City’s only polling place to the outskirts of town where it’s not easily accessible and could deter people from voting. A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Thursday morning in Topeka.

In its filing, Ford County argues that the claims made by the American Civil Liberties Union in the case “appear to be comprised of speculation and bluster, and they crumble at the touch.” It accuses the plaintiffs of using “bellicose rhetoric.”

Opening a second polling place, the county argues, would be administratively impossible and would “introduce hopeless confusion into the electorate, and likely disenfranchise many of the same voters whose rights Plaintiffs claim to be protecting. Plaintiffs’ lawsuit is a recipe for disaster.”

Ford county added, “Plaintiffs have grossly distorted reality by painting Dodge City as a bleak community of uneducated and helpless residents. Nothing could be further from the  truth.

“Whatever minor inconveniences may exist with the Expo Center as a polling
location, both Defendant and Dodge City have gone to great lengths to more than
accommodate those potentially impacted thereby. No one will be prevented from
voting, or face significantly greater obstacles than they might have encountered before, during this election cycle.