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KS: Democrats looking for donors to show them the money

By   /   September 14, 2012  /   News  /   7 Comments

Kansas Democrats have barely raised a fraction of the campaign funds collected by Republican Congressional incumbents this election season.

By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog

OSAWATOMIE — Big elections mean big money, but not necessarily for Kansas Democrats.

Fundraising for Kansas Republican congressional incumbents is as robust as ever, according to OpenSecrets.org. GOP candidates so far this election season have raised more than $5 million.

In contrast, Democrats — who have candidates in two of the state’s four House districts — have not yet cracked $90,000.

Democrats failed to field candidates in 41 state legislative primary races in August.

Joan Wagnon, Kansas Democratic Party chair, remained optimistic, noting that it’s still the highest number of state candidates Democrats have posted in recent years. Republicans missed running in just five primary races.

Joan Wagnon, Kansas Democratic Party chair

“I think part of the difficulty in fielding candidates this year was magnified by the fact that boundaries changed so close to the filing,” Wagnon said, referring to state redistricting maps released only days before the primary filing deadline. In a number of cases, she said, the party had little to no time to find state candidates.

Clayton Barker, executive director for the Kansas Republican Party, said he wasn’t surprised Democrats had difficulty finding candidates and financial backers. He said Kansas’ reliably conservative tilt means Republicans have a deeper bench from which to choose, and fewer candidates equates to fewer donors.

The Democrats’ “collapse of congressional recruiting” surprised him.

Clayton Barker, Kansas Republican Party executive director

“This is the first time in at least 40 years that they have no serious candidate,” Barker said.

“I think they’re maybe at a historically weak point right now.”

Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University in Topeka, said the Democrats’ struggles are just part of a larger challenge caused by a lack of political star power in Kansas government.

Figures such as former governors Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson, as well as former Attorney General Paul Morrison, garnered a reasonable amount of popularity and favor with the general public, Beatty said. As they left the realm of Kansas politics, they took a bit of the Democrats’ influence, too.

“They haven’t recovered from that, and it’s going to be hard to,” Beatty said. “There’s no doubt it’s going to be reflected in something like fundraising.”

Contact Travis Perry at [email protected], or follow him on twitter at @kansaswatchdog.


Travis formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Lynda

    Sebelius, Parkinson and Morrison—–Good riddance and hope they NEVER return to the Kansas political scene!!!

  • Charles Miller

    Nope: disagree I hope that Gov. Brownback is gone next election and he takes Kris Kobach with him to defeat.

  • Charles Miller

    I have to reply to myself: Morrison was a Republican who turned into a Democrat so he could run against the incumbant Republican: look at all the mess u Republicans cause.

  • Facts Not Fox

    Democrats will continue to fight overwhelming odds as long as the Kansas Chamber of Commerce,the Koch Tea Party and the other far right groups can buy their way into Topeka.
    Meanwhile the low information voter can’t see beyond social issues (guns,immigration,voter ID,and abortion) to vote for their own real interests of education,jobs,help for those in need,and a decent quality of life in the state.
    With few moderate voices left to provide reason,this new “grand experiment”of the Governor and conservative legislature will bankrupt our way of life in Kansas.
    You can still make a difference at the polls,but time is running out,for us and our way of life.

  • bsnyder

    With our economy, money may not necessarily be an indicator of who is going to win. As for myself, although I can’t afford to give up any money right now, I typically vote Democrat anyway.

  • bsnyder

    I agree, but I also believe that more people are starting to see that much of this is pure “mud slinging”, rather than facts. I look at the more factual news, like the “conservative” governor of Wisconsin, who made his law to outlaw collective bargaining, and got ousted so far by one Wisconsin judge. Whether or not a person likes unions, the citizens of any state should be allowed to unionize, if they wish. I typically do not, but I am also not selfish enough to want to take that right away from anyone, either.

  • bsnyder

    Btw, in that pic of Clayton Barker, is he wearing makeup? I thought that he was supposed to be a conservative – LOL