Kansas Republicans Cut and Run - to Become Democrats

Today's Washington Post:

Moderates in Kansas Decide They're Not in GOP Anymore

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 19, 2006; Page A01

WICHITA -- Paul Morrison, a career prosecutor who specializes in putting killers behind bars, has the bulletproof résumé and the rugged looks of a law-and-order Republican, which is what he was until last year. That was when he announced he would run for attorney general -- as a Democrat.

He is now running neck-and-neck with Republican Phill Kline, an iconic social conservative who made headlines by seeking the names of abortion-clinic patients and vowing to defend science-teaching standards that challenge Darwinian evolution. What's more, Morrison is raising money faster than Kline and pulling more cash from Republicans than Democrats.

Nor is Morrison alone. In a state that voted nearly 2 to 1 for President Bush in 2004, nine former Republicans will be on the November ballot as Democrats. Among them is Mark Parkinson, a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, who changed parties to run for lieutenant governor with the popular Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius.

"I'd reached a breaking point," Parkinson said, preparing for a rally in Wichita alongside Sebelius. "I want to work on relevant issues and not on a lot of things that don't matter."
Parkinson has given the Democrats a powerful meme to use in our run against the GOP.

"Vote for Democrats and we'll start to work on the real issues facing America."

This isn't to say that protecting a woman's right to chose, science curriculums from meddling Christianists, or working to make sure that all Americans are equal under the law isn't important, but to many voters, members of the squeezed middle class, issues like rising costs for health care stagnant wages and are the ones that are ever present in their lives. Worries about terrorism, energy independence, the War in Iraq, and the cost of college are what keep them up at night, not the specter of two married men or Terri Shiavo.

The Republican party isn't talking about any of those things. Well, the GOP is talking about Iraq and Terrorism, but voters are smart enough to realize that Republicans, from the Bush Administration on down, aren't leveling with them. It's not a discussion, it's not a debate. People don't feel like their concerns are being heard.

The defections in the Kansas GOP also illustrate a problem for the Republican party in general. Moderate 'governmental' conservatives - the 'old guard' interested in things like small government, fiscal responsibility, and 'classical' conservative notions about governmental interference in the personal lives of citizens - are squaring off against the rising power in the Republican coalition, socio-religious Conservatives interested in legislating morality.

The Democratic party should welcome any Republican that has reached the conclusion that the Republican Party of today is bad for America. At the same time, we should be careful that an influx of right-leaning politicians could change our position on central issues.

Plundering the Republican Ranks isn't the way to victory, though it may be a something that happens along the way.

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