Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Party-Hopping in Kansas

by Kyle Michaelis
Nebraska Democrats take note - there is a shift in the political sands in the state of Kansas that should offer some measure of hope for our own efforts at rebuilding our state party and reconnecting with Midwestern and rural voters. Far more substantial than the Republican-for-a-Day phenomenon that swept Nebraska prior to the heated May 9th GOP primary, it seems a number of very high profile Kansas Republicans are switching parties permanently with more in mind than simply being heard in a single election.

Thanks to Josh of the always excellent "Thoughts From Kansas" blog for bringing the following story to my attention:
The former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party jumped ship in a big way Tuesday, switching his affiliation to Democrat amid speculation that he would become Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' running mate.

Johnson County Elections Commissioner Brian Newby confirmed that Mark Parkinson, the state GOP chairman from 1999 to 2003, came to the office and switched his party affiliation shortly before noon.

Parkinson's name has been widely circulated as Sebelius' choice for a running mate as the Democratic governor seeks a second term....

Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison also switched parties from Republican to Democrat to challenge Attorney General Phill Kline, a Republican, in the November election.

Republican House Speaker Doug Mays said he was disgusted by Parkinson's lack of loyalty to the party that made him chairman, but he isn't surprised by the rift.

With what sounds like very legitimate Democratic nominees for Attorney General and Lt. Governor emerging from the ranks of Kansas Republicans, it's hard to find much in the way of downside to so exciting a series of developments. This sort of party-poaching may not be the ideal form of candidate development, but it speaks to a political vulnerability that may well find its way northward, helping crack the Republican stranglehold on so many offices within Nebraska state government.

Nothing assured, of course, but certainly grounds for hope and celebration. A New Kansas seems to be in the making. Isn't it possible (and quite reasonable, under the circumstances) that a New Nebraska could be following just behind?


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