The Slatest

Extreme Tax Cuts Hurting Sam Brownback’s Popularity Even in Republican Kansas


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Based on recent results in presidential elections—and the fact that the state has had exclusively GOP-affiliated senators since 1939—you’d be forgiven for thinking that once Kathleen Sebelius left for D.C., there were literally no non-Republicans left in Kansas to run for office. But that isn’t the case, and two recent New York Times stories document a moderate backlash that could land a Democrat in the state’s governorship and an independent in one of their Senate seats.

Today’s Times piece is about the blowback that governor Sam Brownback is facing. Brownback is strongly conservative on many issues, but it’s specifically his implementation of mega-tax cuts that has alienated even his fellow Republicans:

Based on decreased revenue from the tax cuts, the state’s nonpartisan legislative research department estimates that the budget will have to be adjusted by $1.3 billion, either through spending cuts or additional revenue, over the next five years in order to remain balanced.

Opponents of the governor have used this to stoke fears that he would cut vital services. Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded Kansas’ credit rating.

Brownback’s opponent in November is Democrat Paul Davis, and the race is a toss-up. Also very close: the Senate race, which the Times wrote about earlier this month. Incumbent Republican Pat Roberts is facing an independent challenger, Greg Orman, who’s polling very well; Democratic candidate Chad Taylor is trying to take his name off the ballot in what’s assumed to be an effort that to increase the chances that Orman wins.

For more context on what’s happening in Kansas, check out David Weigel’s 2012 Slate interview with a moderate GOP state senator who lost a primary to an “ultra-conservative” challenger. (Headline: “Koch Industries is just a terrible, terrible citizen.”)