Can Kansas Moderates Recover?
The joke used to be that the Democratic caucus in the Kansas Senate was so small it could meet in a phone booth.
Soon, moderate Senate Republicans could probably meet in one, too.
If Tuesday’s primary results hold through the fall, the Kansas Senate would be left with five moderate Republicans after conservatives won decisively in key Senate races on Tuesday. Conservatives defeated seven moderate incumbents who were blamed for blocking Gov. Sam Brownback’s agenda.
“It was an ugly election,” said former state Senate President Dick Bond, a moderate Republican who backed several Johnson County Senate candidates who lost Tuesday.
The road back for moderates will be difficult — and maybe even out of reach.
“Moderate Republicans as an elected class are on the ropes,” said Bob Beatty, political science professor at Washburn University in Topeka. “They’ve lost the ability to garner an electoral majority.”
The only thing that might change that, experts said, is if moderate voters feel pinched by conservative policies.
Before Tuesday’s primary, moderate Republicans made up 14 of the 40 members of the Kansas Senate. Conservatives won two primaries in Johnson County Senate districts now represented by moderates and will face Democratic opposition in the general election.