“Moderate” PACS drag Kelly, Biden baggage into 2024 election arena

Towing the baggage of Joe Biden’s plummeting popularity and the fallout of her own Left-leaning judgments, will Kansas Governor Laura Kelly find success in her vaunted quest to nullify Republican supermajorities in the legislature this November and make Kansas more blue?

Despite rebranding old-school liberal political machinery as “moderate” by collecting Kansas RINOS and Democrats into political action committees like Steve Morris’ “Kansans First” and Kelly’s own “Middle of the Road” PAC,  2024 might indeed be a time for progressive socialists masquerading as moderates to save their ammunition and live to fight another day.

Leftists hoping to rely on the typical host of dark money funders and shady online voter outreach efforts seem optimistic, bolstered by the governor’s re-election and the defeat of the anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution. But 2020-2022 also brought with it some hard realities in legislative elections which have Kelly, et. al, whistling past the graveyard. In four years voters of Kansas have made their legislature more conservative, not less; with flipped seats and RINO ousters and the most under-noted bellwether upset of all – the removal of 40-year incumbent Democrat potted plant Anthony Hensley in Senate District 19. Those losses strengthened GOP numbers and resolve in the past four years, and Democrats haven’t exactly made the country and the state more confident in their abilities as we head in to 2024.

Kelly’s positions on a number of issues have alienated Kansans – at least outside the forever blue bastions of Lawrence, Topeka, Johnson County and university towns.  She’s refused to support laws banning men from girls sports and unsuccessfully vetoed using actual gender on official state documents. Her undeniably expensive Holy Grail – the expansion of Medicaid, would put 150,000 able-bodied adults on the tax-funded healthcare dole – something working Kansans paying health insurance premiums and others concerned about the truly needy on Medicaid have a hard time swallowing. Her recent veto of a tax relief bill that would have ended income taxes for 341,000 low-income Kansas – all these illustrate how tall a mountain unseating Republicans will be to climb.

The Godzilla on the loose for liberals seeking office in Kansas is of course the shadow of the Joe Biden Disaster. His illegal immigrant crisis last week got press coverage as it landed full force in nearby Denver – ever closer to Kansas. As spring comes on and 9 million illegals feather out across the country, residents and business owners in Lawrence wonder how long until the Kaw River homeless encampment becomes swelled with illegals. Kansans fear more of Biden’s chickens may come home to roost here.

These are just the most recent concerns voters have with progressive themes which have taken over the Democrat Party rudder. Kansans have good memories. Voters in those targeted legislative districts haven’t forgotten Kelly’s mismanagement of the Covid emergency; her attempt to drag the state through an exhausting “phased” reopening program without medical evidence to back it up. They recall the Republican-led legislature that put an end to the delays of reopening state and let counties decide on their own whether they wanted to mask their citizens. They remember being locked in their homes, their kids isolated from school and society for no reason since they were the least at risk. They remember fearing harassment from the government if they went to church.

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Leftist PACS also won’t be meeting the same opponents they met in the past two election cycles. Republicans at their state party convention in Overland Park recently laid out a new understanding of dark money sourcing and its avenues via Left-leaning nonprofits to get out the progressive vote, and they’ve targeted a huge margin of Republicans and Unaffiliated voters in the state who are registered but infrequent voters.

While individual Democrat voters and supporters in Kansas might read those tea leaves and think twice about donating to Democrat-inspired candidates this year, cash from those dark money sources will no doubt continue to flow into Kansas legislative races in an attempt to fund that mission. But even those dollars are limited, and Democrat funding sources will have to exhastively evaluate a myriad of higher priority Republican challenges all across the country this year. Joe Biden has seen to that.

There may be no way to ever put a solid number to the economic and social damage Kelly’s lockdown did to Kansas, but none of those memories behoove Democrats and their lackeys who tried to shame the rest of Kansas into submission. The proof was illustrated in those 2022 legislative races.

Kansas won’t be the only place where electing Democrats in 2024 will be a challenge.

Dane Hicks is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA. He is the author of novels "The Skinning Tree" and "A Whisper For Help." As publisher of the Anderson County Review in Garnett, KS., he is a recipient of the Kansas Press Association's Boyd Community Service Award as well as more than 60 awards for excellence in news, editorial and photography.