Monday, July 6, 2009

Leadership Void

It's been about two months since Sebelius was sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services, and thus far no one has emerged from the pack as Kansas' Democratic leader. Let's take a look at some of the causes...

Chairman Larry Gates: Gates was first elected Chair of the Kansas Democratic Party in 2003 and was unanimously reelected in 2005, 2007 and 2009. The most shocking element of his tenure as Chair is the minimal gains the party has made during those years. Obviously there was great success in 2006 with the election of Boyda and Morrison and the re-election of Sebelius, but that was the only year the party truly flourished.

Kansas actually lost a congressional seat in 2008, the year of Obama and countless Democratic victories across the country. Personally I loved that my party nominated a US Senate candidate who couldn't donate to Obama's campaign as he had been a registered lobbyist. Then again, Greg Orman the first candidate that the party handpicked was a Republican carpetbagger from Minnesota/Florida.

I can't forget the "fabulous" Kenny Johnston when it comes to Gates leadership. Kenny, the KDP's Executive Director was promoted from Technology Director in December 2008. I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but the the key aspects of any good campaign are field, finance, and communications. Kenny has absolutely no background in field or finance (which explains the commitment to candidate recruitment for 2010 and the KDP's cash on hand). Good work there Chairman Gates.

Governor Mark Parkinson: Speaking of former Republicans turned Democrat to run for high office, we can't forget our Governor (and former Chair of the KS GOP). On a personal level, I don't have too much against Parkinson. He's really tried to win over the party and convince us of his sincerity, and on a certain level, I know it's there. The main problem is his legacy, or lack there of.

Within days of assuming office, Parkinson compromised (caved) on energy policy resulting in the approval of construction for a new the coal-fired power plant in Holcomb. He chose a Lt. Governor, who will not seek office in 2010, after Parkinson himself announced no interest in actually being elected Governor. The result is no obvious candidate for Governor (ignoring or course the "Democratic" Senator from Kansas City, Chris Steineger who has continued to express interest). And finally,

Former Governor Kathleen Sebelius: I know, it's sacrilegious in the KDP to speak ill of Sebelius, but in truth she left us in this mess. Who chose Republican running mates each time she ran for Governor? Who recruited a Republican to run against Kline in 2006 (a great idea until the scandal)? Who probably recruited Orman? Who appointed Dennis McKinney Treasurer in hopes of preventing a gubernatorial primary (unnecessarily)? Who pulled the ladder up behind their own assent, so that upon leaving office has left the party seeking a viable candidate for Governor, Senate, and 3 Congressional seats? all points back to one person.


Keep in mind that Legislative leadership is focused on increasing numbers in both chambers. New faces were elected in November, and hopefully more will join them before redistricting commences. Rumors surround the Fourth Congressional, and that could likely be the focus in 2010. It's not too early to recruit that wonderful legislative candidate. Now is time for this party to rebuild, and we can't remain focused on how Sebelius shaped the party these past years, or we will not only lose 2010, but 2012 and beyond.