Candidate to hold volunteer event

Sharice Davids, a candidate for U.S. Congress, 3rd District, is holding an ice cream day for campaign volunteers from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 22, at her campaign office, 416 N. 5th St., Kansas City, Kansas.

During the event, volunteers will address postcards, canvass, make phone calls and eat ice cream.

Reservations are necessary to

Thousands hear Sanders speak at Welder campaign rally in KCK

Bernie Sanders campaigned for Brent Welder for Congress tonight at the Reardon Convention Center in Kansas City, Kansas. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert

Brent Welder campaigned for Bernie Sanders in the last election, and on Friday night, Sanders returned the favor, visiting Kansas City, Kansas, to stump for the labor lawyer’s Congressional campaign.

It was perhaps the biggest political celebrity event of the year in Kansas City, Kansas, drawing about 2,000 people in a standing-room-only crowd at the Reardon Convention Center at 5th and Minnesota Avenue. Lines of people waiting to get into the center extended west on Minnesota Avenue and around the corner and north on 6th Street.

Welder wants to be the Democrat to challenge Incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder, who is running for re-election to the 3rd District seat. There are five other Democrats on the Aug. 7 primary ballot. President Donald Trump this week tweeted his support for Yoder. He plans to visit Kansas City, Missouri, on Tuesday on a campaign stop.

Sanders, who ran for president in 2016, losing in the primary to Hillary Clinton, blasted President Trump during his speech. Sanders won Wyandotte County in 2016.

“When Trump ran for president, he said, ‘I am a different type of Republican, and I am not going to cut Social Security and Medicare,’ remember that?” Sanders said.

“Well, he turned out to be the same old type of Republican, because he brought forth a budget a few months ago, and that budget called for a trillion-dollar cut in Medicaid, a $500 billion cut for Medicare and a $60 billion cut for the Social Security disability insurance fund,” Sanders said. Eighty-three percent of the Trump tax bill cut taxes for the top 1 percent, Sanders added.

“I hate to say this, but he lied again,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the plan of the president, as well as those who are running in Trump’s shadow, is that after giving a trillion dollars of tax breaks to the wealthy, “they’re coming back, they’re going to cut Social Security, they’re going to cut Medicare and Medicaid, but they ain’t gonna do it because we’re going to stop them.”

Loud applause and chants of “Bernie” erupted after this statement, and Sanders said, “It’s not Bernie, it is you. I do my job, but you have got to do your job in raging a political revolution, electing Brent and transforming this country.”

“You know people say, ‘Bernie, Alexandria, why are you coming to Kansas? Don’t you know Kansas is a Republican state?’ Well, actually, we do know that,” Sanders said.

“But, what I believe from the bottom of my heart, is I just do not accept what the pundits are talking about when they say ‘blue state’ and ‘red state’ and ‘purple state.’ I don’t believe that. I believe that any state of this country where working people are struggling is a state prepared to fight for justice.”

Also speaking at the campaign rally was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic socialist who won a primary victory over an established Democratic incumbent June 26 in New York.

“The people of Kansas decided that this nation will not be a slave nation,” Ocasio-Cortez said, referring to the pre-Civil War era. It became a crucible of the progressive movement, and a crucible for the conscience of this country, she said.

“And it is the people in this room who are the continuation of this legacy, the continuation of the legacy who will say all men are created equal, the continuation of the legacy who say that social, economic and racial justice is what makes us proud to be Americans,” she said.

She said the Welder campaign will knock on every door in the 3rd District to win back the House.

“It is the people in this room, knocking on 10, 50, 100 doors a piece that is going to get it done,” she said.

“If you have never knocked on a door before, I am talking to you. If you have never picked up a phone to phone bank, I am talking to you. If you have never voted before, I am talking to you. And I am inviting you the table. It is in your hands that the destiny of this nation will be decided,” she said.

Welder is known for his opposition to big corporate donations flowing into political campaigns.

Welder said he wanted to win back the voters who earlier voted for Barack Obama’s populist change and then later voted for Donald Trump’s right-wing rhetoric.

“The Democratic Party can win back these working-class Trump voters,” Welder said.

He said in order to do that, Democrats have to articulate bold progressive economic plans that will help working families.

“The kind of policies that will reverse growing economic disparity, and finally put government back where it belongs, in the hands of the people,” Welder said.

“The hard-working people who bust their butts every day, who shoulder the worry of working harder and harder for stagnating wages, are the same people who get no help whatsoever from our elected officials. The people who need a voice the most, have no voice at all,” Welder said.

“Meanwhile, the billionaires and top executives of giant corporations — the people who rig our economy against the middle class and poor — the people who need a voice in government the least — are the ones who have the only voice in government,” he said.

Two members of the audience who attended this rally, Corey Keller and Miranda Mastin, were from Kansas City, Missouri, and said they attended to see Sanders’ speech.

Another member of the audience, Crysta Commerford of Pleasanton, Kansas, a retired teacher, also wanted to hear Sanders speak. She said she was very worried about where society is now leaving children. There are children now who don’t even have food, she said.

“Our kids are getting lost in this mess,” Commerford said. While she isn’t in Welder’s district, she said her son is in his district and would vote for him.

See earlier stories on the 3rd District campaign at

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,, who upset a Democratic incumbent in a primary in New York, also spoke at tonight’s rally. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
Brent Welder, one of six people running for the Democratic nomination for 3rd District, House of Representatives, said the Democratic Party can win back working-class voters. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
Tonight’s Welder campaign rally was on a large scale. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
Corey Keller, left, and Miranda Mastin, right, from Kansas City, Missouri, attended tonight’s Welder rally to hear Bernie Sanders speak. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
A line of people waiting to get into the Reardon Convention Center tonight went up Minnesota Avenue to 6th Street, and then north on 6th Street. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
Thousands of people attended a Brent Welder for Congress campaign rally tonight in Kansas City, Kansas. Bernie Sanders was one of the speakers at the rally. Welder had worked in Sanders’ presidential campaign, and Welder also had worked in former President Obama’s campaign. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

GOP candidates for Kansas governor separated by style, if not politics

by Jim McLean, Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach — rivals for the Republican gubernatorial nomination — are both diehard conservatives. On the campaign trail, they squabble over who’s more conservative on core issues like immigration, abortion, guns and taxes.

It’s clear, if elected, either would keep the state on a conservative path. The question for primary voters is whose approach would be best for tackling that agenda.

Style points

“There is very little daylight between them on most of the issues, but management and work style is hugely important to me,” said Marjorie Robinow, a business consultant who attended a GOP debate this month in Johnson County.

Watching the candidates on stage, Robinow said, solidified her support of Colyer.

“He listens,” she said, noting that immediately after taking the reins from former Gov. Sam Brownback in January, Colyer met with both Republican and Democratic legislative leaders.

“We need people who are going to talk to each other, not go off on tangents,” she said.

Val, a retired delivery truck driver (he declined to give his last name fearing it could cause problems for his wife, who’s a government employee), said Kobach’s performance at that Johnson County debate sold him.

“I was on the fence,” he explained. “I see Kris Kobach as a really tough leader. He will stand and fight for what he believes.”

Kobach is not one to shrink from controversy. That was in evidence earlier this summer when the secretary of state showed up for the Old Shawnee Days Parade in a red-white-and-blue Jeep equipped with a replica machine gun. It caused such a stir that local officials issued an apology and promised to consider new rules for parade entries.

Calling his critics “snowflakes,” Kobach has made the Jeep a fixture at parades and campaign events, offering supporters chances to have their pictures taken with it.

“We need a governor (who) when lefties attack, he hits right back,” he said at a GOP forum in Parsons. “So, I didn’t back down when they complained about the Jeep, I doubled down.”

‘Full-throttle’ vs. ‘workhorse’

Kobach seems to enjoy the verbal combat of debates, too.

In Johnson County, a smiling Kobach poked Colyer for failing to take the lead with legislation to deny in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant students. And he criticized the governor for supporting a half-billion dollar increase in public school funding believing it would be enough to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

“I told him not to sign the bill,” Kobach said, referencing the court’s latest ruling that funding was still not adequate.

“If you keep paying the ransom, they’ll keep demanding the ransom,” he said.

Responding, Colyer said it would have been irresponsible to risk a court-order shut down of Kansas schools.

“It wasn’t ransom,” he said. “It was the right thing to do.”

Colyer didn’t try to match Kobach’s stage presence. Instead, he poked at the secretary of state for his charisma, characterizing him as a “show pony” who constantly “runs to the cameras” instead of focusing on the responsibilities of his office.

“My Dad told me there are two kinds of horses: There are show ponies and there are workhorses,” Colyer said. “Kansans know the difference.”

Kobach’s string of losses to the ACLU in cases challenging Kansas’s strict voting laws is proof he is distracted, the governor said.

More contrasts

Noting the growing intensity of the back and forth between the frontrunners during joint appearances, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer regularly tells audiences, “I hope you see me as the calm and sensible business person in the group.”

Selzer, who’s running for governor after one term as the state’s insurance regulator, is trying to thread the needle politically. He’s a conservative who hopes also to appeal to moderate Republican voters with more nuanced positions on education, taxes and immigration.

For example, he said both Kobach and Colyer are misleading voters on the tuition issue. Under current law, he said, only undocumented students who have graduated from a Kansas high school and are on a path to citizenship can qualify for in-state tuition.

“They (Kobach and Colyer) forget to mention that when they condemn it,” Selzer said, arguing that imposing new restrictions would cost state universities millions of dollars because it would make tuition unaffordable for many of the students in question.

The only true moderate in the GOP race is former state Sen. Jim Barnett. On the campaign trail, he warns voters that electing either Colyer or Kobach would mean returning to the failed tax policies of former Gov. Sam Brownback.

“The voters have to be able to look back and see what the Brownback-Colyer tax experiment did to this state, how reckless it was,” Barnett said.

Barnett insists that a five-person primary gives him a chance to capture enough votes to challenge for the nomination. But polls show Colyer and Kobach running neck-and-neck well ahead of the pack, which also includes Patrick Kucera, a self-described “entrepreneurial evangelist” from Leawood.

Who’s got whose backing

Kobach has captured some flashy endorsements, including from Donald Trump Jr. and controversial rocker Ted Nugent, who have both traveled to Kansas to headline fundraisers for him.

But, as the clock ticks down to the Aug. 7 primary, Colyer appears to be generating momentum with a string of endorsements from the Kansas Farm Bureau, the NRA and other groups that indicate he is the choice of the GOP establishment.

Colyer is also getting support from some Republican lawmakers, including Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine, from Emporia.

Acknowledging that it’s somewhat unusual for legislative leaders to take sides in a primary, Longbine said he is backing Colyer because he has demonstrated a willingness to work with lawmakers and appoint competent people to lead state agencies.

“I know there might be repercussions if he (Colyer) doesn’t win,” Longbine said.

But, he said, he’s willing to take that risk because “I’m probably not going to be on the same page with the other candidate (Kobach), if he wins.”

Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

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