In other words, he will work hard to communicate he is not Brownback 2.0 but without making changes on major policy issues. He will stick with the Brownback tax cut direction but smooth over a few things to hopefully make voters see him as different. He is showing signs of wanting to reach across the aisle, meeting with a mix of legislators, including Democrats. But it seems like only the tone has changed, the photo ops being more friendly, but the positions do not waver. This makes me believe, if elected, he would still be ready with the veto pen to stop many of the changes we desperately need to put this state back on the right track.
One issue he can’t run away from is his leadership to establish KanCare. Governor Brownback gave then Lt. Governor Colyer the leadership responsibility to develop the KanCare program and put it into operation. Even some Republicans join Democrats in blasting this program and with good reason. It just hasn’t worked. But we shouldn’t be too surprised. The level of passion for helping folks in need does make a difference in the effort to have positive outcomes.
He continues to oppose Medicaid expansion, a program that generates much support across the state. This is particularly true in more rural areas where their hospitals are struggling to stay open. He will also need to learn about the costly side effects of neglecting health care for thousands of Kansans. Forcing folks in need to go to the Emergency Room is a far more costly choice.
So, from a political point of view, where is our Governor as it relates to this election year? In selecting Tracy Mann to be his Lt. Governor running mate, given his limited record, Mann can help lean whatever way seems to help the most. Kobach is not going to change. He now has a bank as a running mate (Wink Hartman) and will work to hold the hard core Trump voters. Jim Barnett is a fine man but too sane to get broad support in the primary, although he will draw from some of the reasonable voters who the Governor needs to win the nomination. I don’t know where the Insurance Commissioner fits but we do know every vote he does get could have gone to someone else.
The Democrats in general can not let Colyer and Company get away with his effort to be new and reasonable. He may have changed wardrobes, but underneath, it is the same old backward movement that has Kansas looking up at almost all states on key rankings that impact the future.