Kansas values: Republican group has cause to defend schools in state.

7/16/2014

Prominent Kansas Republicans made a stand Tuesday in Topeka.

Prominent Kansas Republicans made a stand Tuesday in Topeka.

A group representing more than 100 traditional Republicans chastised ultraconservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback for delivering poor policy on many fronts — taxes, schools and more — then endorsed the Democratic ticket of Paul Davis for governor and Jill Docking for lieutenant governor.

Education, understandably, was a chief concern of the Republicans for Kansas Values, as they pointed to Brownback signing off on the biggest school funding cut in Kansas history — a move the governor even called a victory for the state.

Brownback supporters responded by labeling the new GOP alliance, with some members ousted from office, as out of touch with Kansans.

We'll see.

The group boasts extraordinary experience at all levels of government.

Its members still have cachet in their Kansas communities, and are uniquely prepared to help Kansans see why Davis, a Statehouse leader with a solid record on education in particular, would better serve the Sunflower State.

One lifelong Kansan involved in Tuesday's announcement — former Senate President Steve Morris of Hugoton — had long stints on his local school board and in the Kansas Senate, and championed responsible support for public schools.

Morris also was among more traditional, moderate Republican state senators viciously targeted and purged by the Brownback regime in 2012 for providing resistance to its ultraconservative agenda.

Tuesday's endorsement wasn't about revenge, however. Morris and his GOP allies are troubled by the current recklessness, and want a brighter future for their state.

They know, as does Davis, that it's possible to be fiscally responsible and still maintain good schools needed to educate students and produce a quality workforce.

Such pragmatic policymaking has been in short supply in a state overwhelmed by Brownback's ideology-driven handling of education and other issues.

And now, Kansas' Republican Party could not be more divided.

The question is whether Kansans will stand for four more years from a radical-right leader who promotes attacks on public schools and other counterproductive measures, or align with the thoughtful, mainstream Republicans who stood up Tuesday to remind us of the need to put Kansas' future first.

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