Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Ex-Governors Unite against 'Experiment' ; Kansas Leaders' Bipartisan Effort Lambastes Brownback

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Ex-Governors Unite against 'Experiment' ; Kansas Leaders' Bipartisan Effort Lambastes Brownback

Article excerpt

Four former Kansas governors -- two Republicans and two Democrats -- on Friday revealed formation of a new political group established to raise voters' objections about policies of Gov. Sam Brownback and his allies in the House and Senate.

Republicans Bill Graves and Mike Hayden, along with Democrats Kathleen Sebelius and John Carlin, sent letters to potential donors on behalf of the Save Kansas Coalition.

A bipartisan alliance among four past Kansas governors in an operation targeting a sitting Republican chief executive is unprecedented in the state.

"Our state of affairs is on a continuous decline. It's time to acknowledge the experiment has failed," said Hayden, who led Kansas from 1987 to 1991. "Being a Kansas conservative used to mean paying off debt, balancing the budget and not running up bills our grandchildren would be expected to pay."

In the statement released with the Legislature in special session to address an unconstitutional school finance law, Hayden said time had come to give voice to core principles weakened under Brownback. He said the "upcoming election is our first opportunity."

Brownback isn't on the 2016 ballot, but all House and Senate seats are up for grabs. Republicans hold deep majorities in both chambers, but about 20 percent of the incumbents chose not to seek re-election.

Carlin, a Democrat who was governor from 1979 to 1987, said the state's inadequate investment in infrastructure and education during the Brownback era inhibited economic growth.

"As we continue to slight these important measures, we endanger our ability to ever recover economically, reducing the quality of life for all Kansans," Carlin said. "I'm not pleased with the direction we're going and believe we must change the faces in the Legislature."

Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said the maneuvering ought to have been expected by four governors who presided over "massive and needless growth in the size of government." He said it was revealing the coalition would rely on unlimited dark money contributions. …

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