Political campaigns should focus on candidates’ experience and positions on issues.
Unfortunately, the process in Kansas has been marred by spiteful political attacks loaded with lies and misinformation.
After being elected in 2010, Gov. Sam Brownback wasted no time unleashing the Washington, D.C.-style approach in Kansas.
Southwest Kansas saw one of the first and worst such displays in the 2012 Republican primary for the Senate’s 39th District, when sitting Senate President Steve Morris of Hugoton was among several legislators unfairly and viciously targeted in postcards and other ads.
Brownback, the Kansas Chamber and Americans for Prosperity engaged in the Koch brothers-fueled assault on Morris and other moderates who dared to challenge the governor’s far-right, ideology-driven agenda.
Morris’ opponent in 2012, Larry Powell of Garden City, benefited when too many voters fell for the numerous lies, to include the ridiculous claim that Morris, a state lawmaker, somehow had a part in controversial Obamacare — federal health-care legislation written in the nation’s capital.
Because of such dirty tricks, Powell narrowly won, joining other far-right candidates supported by Brownback because they would faithfully rubber-stamp his ultraconservative agenda.
The subsequent and senseless acts of the ultraconservative-controlled Legislature now have the state mired in an unprecedented financial mess that will cost Kansans for many years to come.
With his own train wreck of a voting record — Powell signed a pledge to not raise taxes, then last year voted for the biggest tax increase in Kansas history — the Brownback ally needs to deflect attention. So, Powell’s camp already has distributed deliberately misleading postcards maligning his Aug. 2 GOP primary opponent, Rep. John Doll of Garden City.
Such attacks speak volumes about the people behind them. Kansans should not be fooled at a time change is desperately needed in the Statehouse.
Voters should support Senate and House candidates who acknowledge and understand current challenges, and are able to explain how they’d fix the problems.
Voters should reject candidates trying to hide their own shortcomings by relying on desperate, anything-goes tactics to gain an edge.
While we’d clearly be better off without attack ads, they do at least give voters much to consider regarding candidates’ integrity — or, more appropriately, lack thereof.