Key to tough gubernatorial elections rests with moderate Republicans


MaryEster Todd, maryester.todd@, is a freshman Political Science major.

In the tight Kansas gubernatorial race

featuring republican incumbent Gov.

Sam Brownback versus democrat House

Minority Leader Paul Davis, things are

becoming very interesting and perhaps

even surprising for some.

Polls released on Sept. 8 show that

Brownback has approximately 40

percent of the projected votes, Davis has

47 percent, Libertarian Keen Umbehr

has five percent and seven percent

remain undecided.

“What’s going on here? Four years

ago, Brownback was a shoo-in,” says

Bob Beatty, professor of political science

at Washburn. “Kansas is a conservative

state overall, but also a practical state.

In the last 50 years, Kansans have been

willing to elect Democrats for governors

if they feel like the Democrat would

better be able to get things done.”

Beatty, who holds a Master of Arts from

the University of Kentucky as well as a

Doctorate of Philosophy from Arizona

State University, believes that the key

to the upcoming elections is moderate

Republicans. Currently 44 percent of

Kansans affiliate themselves with the

GOP, 24 percent with Democrats, 31

percent with Independents, and .7 percent

with Libertarians. Given the statistics, if

voters stuck with their party affiliations,

Republicans would always win.

However, Beatty recognizes that

many moderate republicans have been

dissatisfied with the past four years, and

some are willing to endorse Paul Davis.

“Davis needs to get 25 percent [of the

republican vote],” said Beatty. “That’s

the key. Twenty-five percent is not a

huge number, but it’s what makes the


Fortunately for Davis, it seems that

he has gained the support of necessary

swing-voters, as polls show that he

has as much, if not more support than

Brownback. They also show that some

of this support is coming from rural

areas that are traditionally thought of as

extremely conservative.

“People out in the country are

conservative, but they are practical,” said

Beatty. “They might know that if Davis

got elected, he would be limited by the

legislature, because it’s republican. So

he’s a safe choice.”

While stepping into the world of

politics may sometimes seem confusing,

one WU professor sees a clear line drawn

beneath all the mud being slung.

“Elections are a lot simpler than the

media wants to portray,” said Steven

Cann, political science professor.

Cann, who has a Master of Arts from

North Dakota State University and a

Doctorate of Philosophy from Purdue

University, points out Brownback’s

platform of tax cuts, more funds for

education, and job growth.

“All of his stuff is tied to what he thinks

will bring economic growth; low taxes,

good schools and good universities,”

said Cann.

Davis, on the other hand is campaigning

mainly on the idea that Kansas needs a

common sense leader, and Brownback,

according to the professor, is too

conservative to be that leader. Davis has

taken advantage of Brownback’s loss of

public support and promised to freeze his

unpopular tax cuts and get the state back

on track before economic disaster hits.

The candidates’ approach to their

campaigns exemplifies the differences

between the two.

“[Brownback] is saying the sun

is shining, everything is great,” said

Beatty. “Forget what my opponent says,

the economy is better, the schools are


According to Beatty, Brownback

is trying to portray his opponent as a

bad national democrat, while Davis is

reaching out to moderates by claiming

the governor is too conservative and

going in the wrong direction.

In the end, tax cuts, education funding

and economic growth are the main

platforms of this term’s gubernatorial

elections. The outcome of the upcoming

elections will be largely dependent on

whether moderate republicans choose to

endorse ultra-conservative Brownback

or Democrat Paul Davis. The direction

in which those voters swing could very

well determine the winner.

Elections will be held on Tuesday,

Nov. 4. Registered voters may also

cast their ballot starting the Tuesday

before Election Day, or up to 20 days

beforehand. For voter registration

information, visit