The Tea Party swept the Republican primaries in Kansas last night, defeating eight moderate GOP incumbents from the state senate and ensuring a new legislative majority for Governor Sam Brownback’s conservative agenda.
Republicans dominate Kansas, but until yesterday’s primaries, moderate Republicans backed by state employees, trial lawyers, and labor unions effectively controlled the state senate in an alliance with liberal Democrats.
That alliance was crushed last night as conservative activists swept out most of the moderates. They even defeated Stephen Morris, the senate’s president and a 20-year legislator who had been unopposed in his last race. His opponent claimed Morris had blocked legislation to phase out the income tax, reform the state’s court system, and move new public employees into a 401(k)-style pension plan.
The tea partiers had the backing of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, but the Associated Press reported that moderate incumbents still “outspent their conservative challengers, often by margins of 3-to-1 or more and received financial support from the state’s largest teachers’ union and labor groups normally aligned with Democrats. “
One of the few moderate GOP senators to survive was Carolyn McGinn of Sedgwick, Kan. She told the Wichita Eagle she may be the only surviving moderate in the Senate. “Wow,” she said. “What kind of life is that going to be?”
Governor Brownback, who has seen so much of his pro-growth and socially conservative agenda stymied, is now in a position to implement it and show just how conservative governance works in practice.