Kansas Democrat Mark Holland not interested in being footnote to history in U.S. Senate race

Holland takes moderate message statewide in bid to unseat GOP’s Jerry Moran

by Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector

Topeka — Democrat Mark Holland said he wouldn’t be deterred by political math resulting in Republicans winning every Kansas election for U.S. Senate since 1939.

Holland, former mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, said a formula for success against Republican U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran was to prevail in 10 counties holding two-thirds of the state’s vote and by respecting interests of neglected rural voters.

His U.S. Senate campaign will take him to all 105 counties for face-to-face conversations with folks deciding Nov. 8 whether to end the longest GOP winning streak in the nation.

“We have a better message on public education. We have a better message on health care. We have a better message on wages. We need to get out and share our message,” Holland said on the Kansas Reflector podcast. “And, we need to spend the time listening to the real concerns of real people.”

Kansans interested in moderate representation in Washington, D.C., shouldn’t be bound to the legacy of Democrat George McGill, who was elected to fill the unexpired term of U.S. Sen. Charles Curtis in 1930 and won a full term in 1932. He was the last Democrat from Kansas elected to the U.S. Senate.

Holland said reversing that trend required Democrats to resonate with voters in the state’s populous 10 counties and draw upon a reservoir of support in the others. A cadre of voters statewide, both urban and rural, feel abandoned by their representatives in Washington, he said.

“Everyone wants to win the big 10,” Holland said. “But we also have to respect the 95 counties that have a third of our votes. I get frustrated with Democrats nationally who complain about losing rural communities, complain about losing red states, and don’t spend a minute listening to people in these communities.”

‘Courage to stand up’

Holland, 53, grew up in Topeka and Kansas City, Kansas. His father was a Methodist minister and his mother a public school teacher. He earned a philosophy degree at Southern Methodist University, a master’s degree in divinity at Iliff School of Theology in Denver and a doctorate of ministry at St. Paul School of Theology.

He served a congregation in Denver before serving churches in Elwood and Wathena in northeast Kansas.

“I was in two towns whose combined population was smaller than the high school I attended,” he said.

“And one of the things I learned about that is we all want the same things. Right? We all want meaningful work. We all want opportunities for our kids. We all want to live in a community we’re proud of. I think Washington, D.C., could learn something that what holds us together is much greater than what pulls us apart.”

He was at Trinity Community Church in Kansas City, Kansas, from 1999 to 2018. He co-founded Mainstream UMC to advocate for inclusion of LGBTQ+ people into the Methodist church in terms of marriage and ordination.

He served six years on the city-county Unified Government before he was elected mayor and served in that post from 2013 to 2017. He lost a campaign for reelection, but learned the necessity of striving to motivate low-propensity voters rather than concentrate on people most likely to cast ballots.

In 2021, Holland announced his campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate. He prevailed in a six-candidate primary in August to earn the opportunity to challenge Moran, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 and the U.S. House in 1997. In Moran’s two Senate campaigns, he won the 2010 general election with 70% of the vote and the 2016 race with 62% of the vote.

Holland said Washington was dominated by extremist Republicans who left moderates behind on issues of abortion, guns, economic policy and other issues.

“Kansas is a pretty moderate, pretty low key plainspoken group as a whole,” Holland said. “We deserve someone who has the courage to stand up. Right now being a moderate takes courage, because the extremes want to pull you off.”

Plainspoken preacher

Holland is a proponent of expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act to lower-income Kansans because it would help families in urban and rural communities. He also supported federal legislation allowing Medicare negotiate to lower medication prices for the elderly, but couldn’t understand why federal lawmakers would oppose a price cap on the monthly cost of insulin to treat diabetes.

“We’re the only developed country in the world where families are worried about health care,” he said.

“People are not able to take care of their families the way they need to because we’re not controlling costs. I will help control costs in D.C.”

Holland said U.S. senators from Kansas ought to declare in clear language President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden. Holland said dozens of lawsuits were filed, but no clear evidence of election fraud has been uncovered.

“What we’re seeing right now is this long-play grief cycle that is born because the leaders in the Republican Party have refused to have the courage to look people in the eye and tell them the plain truth,” Holland said.

“I’m just a plainspoken preacher, and I’m just going to tell people the truth. We need the courage to tell people the truth, even an unpopular truth or a truth they don’t want to hear.”

Moran has said Biden won the 2020 national election and it would be wrong for Congress to not certify the Electoral College vote. He denounced the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, but opposed formation of an independent inquiry into violence precipitated by a rally led by Trump.

Holland said it was wrong for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and take away a woman’s constitutional right to abortion, even to save her own life or in the aftermath of a rape. It would be appropriate for Congress to embed in federal law a right to abortion, he said.

The overwhelming defeat in the Aug. 2 primary of a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution declaring no right to bodily autonomy, including abortion, was contained in the state’s Bill of Rights provided evidence of where the state’s voters stood on the issue. He noted Moran, who endorsed reversal of Roe v. Wade, donated $50,000 to organizations supporting passage of the Kansas abortion amendment.

“The idea that women don’t have the right to make their own decisions about their body is, again, that’s looking backwards to the 1950s,” Holland said. “The majority of people in Kansas came out in force and said, not only did they vote no, they voted hell no.”

Kansas Reflector stories, www.kansasreflector.com, may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.
See more at https://kansasreflector.com/2022/08/22/kansas-democrat-mark-holland-not-interested-in-being-footnote-to-history-in-u-s-senate-race/

Russia says ‘nyet’ to any more visits from hundreds of members of Congress

by Ariana Figueroa, Kansas Reflector

Washington — Hundreds of members of Congress are permanently banned from visiting Russia, in retaliation for passing economic sanctions on the country after it invaded Ukraine in late February.

The list of nearly 1,000 Americans includes President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, along with celebrities such as actor Morgan Freeman, executives such as Microsoft President Brad Smith and government leaders such as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. All four U.S. House members from Kansas are on the list.

“We emphasize that the hostile actions taken by Washington, which boomerang against the United States itself, will continue to receive a proper rebuff,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Russian counter-sanctions are forced and aimed at forcing the ruling American regime, which is trying to impose a neo-colonial ‘rules-based world order’ on the rest of the world, to change its behavior, recognizing new geopolitical realities.”

Congress cleared $40 billion in aid to Ukraine earlier this month, the second multi-billion-dollar package since the beginning of the war in late February.

Of the 963 people banned, more than 230 are Republican and Democratic members of Congress. Top congressional leaders also made the list, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

Those on the list in the 27 States Newsroom states include:

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R)
Rep. Andy Biggs (R)
Rep. Greg Stanton (D)
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D)
Rep. David Schweikert (R)
Rep. Paul Gosar (R)
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D)
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D)
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R)
Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D)
Sen. Michael Bennet (D)
Rep. Ken Buck (R)
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R)
Rep. Diana DeGette (D)
Rep. Jason Crow (D)
Rep. Douglas Lamborn (R)
Rep. Joe Neguse (D)
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R)
Rep. Bill Posey (R)
Rep. Lois Frankel (D)
Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D)
Rep. Scott Franklin (R)
Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R)
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R)
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D)
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D)
Rep. Michael Waltz (R)
Rep. Daniel Webster (R)
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R)
Rep. Carlos Giménez (R)
Rep. Neal Dunn (R)
Rep. Val Demings (D)
Rep. Greg Steube (R)
Rep. Darren Soto (D)
Rep. John Rutherford (R)
Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R)
Rep. Ted Deutch (D)
Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R)
Rep. Byron Donalds (R)
Rep. Kathy Castor (D)
Rep. Charlie Crist (D)
Rep. Kat Cammack (R)
Rep. Al Lawson (D)
Rep. Brian Mast (R)
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D)
Rep. Rick Allen (R)
Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D)
Rep. Nikema Williams (D)
Rep. David Scott (D)
Rep. Austin Scott (R)
Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D)
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R)
Rep. Hank Johnson (D)
Rep. Buddy Carter (R)
Rep. Andrew Clyde (R)
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R)
Rep. Lucy McBath (D)
Rep. Drew Ferguson (R)
Rep. Jody Hice (R)
Sen. Mike Crapo (R)
Sen. James Risch (R)
Rep. Mike Simpson (R)
Rep. Russ Fulcher (R)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R)
Rep. Cindy Axne (D)
Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R)
Rep. Randall Feenstra (R)
Rep. Ashley Hinson (R)
Rep. Sharice Davids (D)
Rep. Jake LaTurner (R)
Rep. Tracey Mann (R)
Rep. Ron Estes (R)
Rep. Garret Graves (R)
Rep. Mike Johnson (R)
Rep. Troy Carter (D)
Rep. Steve Scalise (R)
Rep. Julia Letlow (R)
Rep. Clay Higgins (R)
Sen. Angus King (I)
Rep. Jared Golden (D)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D)
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D)
Sen. Ben Cardin (D)
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D)
Rep. Anthony Brown (D)
Rep. David Trone (D)
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D)
Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D)
Rep. John Sarbanes (D)
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D)
Rep. Andy Harris (R)
Sen. Gary Peters (D)
Rep. Bill Huizenga (R)
Rep. Tim Walberg (R)
Rep. Fred Upton (R)
Rep. Jack Bergman (R)
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D)
Rep. Haley Stevens (D)
Rep. Dan Kildee (D)
Rep. Andy Levin (D)
Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D)
Rep. Lisa McClain (R)
Rep. Peter Meijer (R)
Rep. John Moolenaar (R)
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D)
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D)
Rep. Angie Craig (D)
Rep. Betty McCollum (D)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D)
Rep. Peter Stauber (R)
Rep. Dean Phillips (D)
Rep. Tom Emmer (R)
Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R)
Sen. Roy Blunt (R)
Rep. Cori Bush (D)
Rep. Ann Wagner (R)
Rep. Sam Graves (R)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D)
Rep. Billy Long (R)
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R)
Rep. Jason Smith (R)
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R )
Rep. Matt Rosendale (R)
Sen. Deb Fischer (R)
Rep. Don Bacon (R)
Rep. Adrian Smith (R)
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R) (resigned)
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D)
Sen. Jacky Rosen (D)
Rep. Steven Horsford (D)
Rep. Dina Titus (D)
Rep. Mark Amodei (R)
Rep. Susie Lee (D)
New Hampshire
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D)
Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D)
Rep. Chris Pappas (D)
New Jersey
Sen. Cory Booker (D)
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D)
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D)
Rep. Frank Pallone (D)
Rep. Albio Sires (D)
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R)
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D)
Rep. Andy Kim (D)
Rep. Donald Norcross (D)
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D)
Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D)
Rep. Chris Smith (R)
New Mexico
Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D)
Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D)
Rep. Yvette Herrell (R )
North Carolina
Sen. Thom Tillis (R)
Rep. Alma Adams (D)
Rep. David Price (D)
Rep. David Rouzer (R)
Rep. Deborah Ross (D)
Rep. Ted Budd (R)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D)
Rep. Dan Bishop (R)
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R)
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R)
Rep. Greg Murphy (R)
Rep. Kathy Manning (D)
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R)
Rep. Richard Hudson (R )
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D)
Sen. Rob Portman (R)
Rep. Tim Ryan (D)
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R)
Rep. Troy Balderson (R)
Rep. Joyce Beatty (D)
Rep. Steve Chabot (R)
Rep. Shontel Brown (D)
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R)
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R)
Rep. David Joyce (R)
Rep. Bill Johnson (R)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R)
Rep. Warren Davidson (R)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D)
Rep. Mike Carey (R)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D)
Sen. Jeffrey Merkley (D)
Rep. Cliff Bentz (R)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D)
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D)
Rep. Kurt Schrader (D)
Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D)
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D)
Rep. Susan Wild (D)
Rep. Mike Kelly (R)
Rep. John Joyce (R)
Rep. Fred Keller (R)
Rep. Madeleine Dean (D)
Rep. Dwight Evans (D)
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D)
Rep. Mike Doyle (D)
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R)
Rep. Matt Cartwright (D)
Rep. Conor Lamb (D)
Rep. Dan Meuser (R)
Rep. Scott Perry (R)
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D)
Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R)
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R)
Rep. Tim Burchett (R)
Rep. Mark Green (R)
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R)
Rep. David Kustoff (R)
Rep. Steve Cohen (D)
Rep. Jim Cooper (D)
Rep. John Rose (R)
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R)
Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R)
Sen. Tim Kaine (D)
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D)
Rep. Rob Wittman (R)
Rep. Don Beyer (D)
Rep. Bobby Scott (D)
Rep. Morgan Griffith (R)
Rep. Bob Good (R)
Rep. Ben Cline (R)
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D)
Rep. Elaine Luria (D)
Rep. Donald McEachin (D)
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R )
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R)
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R)
Rep. Ron Kind (D)
Rep. Tom Tiffany (R)
Rep. Bryan Steil (R)
Rep. Gwen Moore (D)
Rep. Mark Pocan (D)
Rep. Scott L. Fitzgerald (R)

Kansas Reflector stories, www.kansasreflector.com, may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

See more at https://kansasreflector.com/2022/05/27/russia-says-nyet-to-any-more-visits-from-hundreds-of-members-of-congress/

U.S. Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson, ‘America at its best,’ to Supreme Court

by Jennifer Shutt, Kansas Reflector

Washington — Ketanji Brown Jackson will make history by becoming the first Black woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, after Democratic and Republican senators voted Thursday to confirm her to the lifetime appointment.

The 53-47 vote comes just six weeks after President Joe Biden announced his nomination of Jackson from the White House, fulfilling a promise he first made on the campaign trail.

“For too long, our government, our courts haven’t looked like America,” Biden said at the time. “I believe it’s time that we have a Court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of qualifications, and that will inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.”

According to the White House, Jackson joined Biden and other senior staff in the Roosevelt Room to watch the vote results.

The momentous nature of Jackson’s confirmation was visible throughout the Senate chamber. Senators stayed at their desks on the floor for much of the vote and dozens of U.S. House members, including the Congressional Black Caucus, gathered to watch.

Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the Senate vote even though she wasn’t needed to break a tie, since Jackson won over the support of three Republicans: Maine’s Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Utah’s Mitt Romney.

After Harris called the vote, the Senate chamber erupted into a standing ovation. While most of the Republican senators filed out of the Senate, Democratic lawmakers cheered as staff packing the benches around the Senate floor and most of the seats in the gallery clapped.

Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock said before the vote that “Ketanji Brown Jackson’s improbable journey to the nation’s highest court is a reflection of our own journey through fits and starts toward the nation’s highest ideals.”

“She embodies the arc of our history,” Warnock continued. “She is America at its best. That I believe in my heart after meeting with her in my office, talking to folks who I trust who know her and hearing her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley said he would vote against Jackson, in part, because of her “lenient approach to criminal law and sentencing” and “judicial activism.”

“Her record clearly shows she does not believe in or act within the limited and proper role of a judge, so I will vote against her confirmation,” said Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which split 11-11 on her nomination.

The three Republicans who backed Jackson on the floor said she was well qualified to become an associate justice, though Collins and Murkowski added their support for her was also meant to reject how partisan the Supreme Court confirmation process has become.

“In my view, the role the Constitution clearly assigns to the Senate is to examine the experience, qualifications, and integrity of the nominee,” Collins said in a statement. “It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the ideology of an individual Senator or would rule exactly as an individual Senator would want.”

Jackson will be sworn in later this year to fill Associate Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat after he retires this summer. She will not change the 6-3 conservative tilt of the court.

Hawley and Blackburn questioning

The Thursday vote followed a particularly grueling confirmation process for Jackson in the Judiciary Committee.

Numerous Republican senators, including Missouri’s Josh Hawley and Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn, grilled Jackson during her first and second days of questioning during the four-day confirmation hearing.

Republicans brought up numerous concerns with Jackson, including her time as a federal public defender and how she sentenced some of the cases that came before her when she was a U.S. district court judge.

Hawley spent nearly all of his time questioning Jackson on seven cases in which she sentenced people convicted of possession of child pornography, alleging that she should have required more prison time.

Blackburn also focused on those cases, but asked additional questions about how Jackson would define a woman and abortion.

Democrats rebuked some of the Republican questioning, saying data proved Jackson’s sentencing in child pornography cases was in line with the vast majority of other judges and that trying to imply she was “soft on crime” was political.

“The overwhelming majority of Senators on both sides I thought were asking appropriate questions and positive in their approach and respectful of the nominee before us,” Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said during the second day of questioning. “But for many senators, yesterday was an opportunity to showcase talking points for the November election.”

From Miami to the high court

Jackson’s path to the U.S. Supreme Court has been decades in the making.

Jackson, who was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Miami, testified at her confirmation hearing that one of her earliest memories was watching her father study law.

“My very earliest memories are of watching my father study. He had his stack of law books on the kitchen table while I sat across from him with my stack of coloring books,”

Jackson said last month on the first day of her confirmation hearing.

Jackson went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1992 and Harvard Law School cum laude in 1996.

She later clerked for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit and for Breyer.

Jackson worked in private practice before joining the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2003. She became a federal public defender in 2005 before being confirmed as a U.S. district court judge in 2007.

The U.S. Senate voted on Jackson just last year, confirming her 53-44 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham joined Collins and Murkowski in backing her for that role.

Jackson received dozens of endorsements for her nomination to the Supreme Court, including from the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the National Education Association.

The American Bar Association rated Jackson’s as “highly qualified.”

Wrapping up the Senate floor debate on Thursday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said Jackson becoming an associate justice would take a “bold and important step on the well trodden path to fulfilling our country’s founding promise.”

“This is a great moment for Judge Jackson, but it is even a greater moment for America as we rise to a more perfect union,” Schumer said.

Kansas Reflector stories, www.kansasreflector.com, may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

See more at https://kansasreflector.com/2022/04/07/u-s-senate-confirms-ketanji-brown-jackson-america-at-its-best-to-supreme-court/.