By John Celock
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) came out swinging in a radio interview Thursday, attacking his Democratic opponent and the media and saying that he can win a second term.
Brownback, who has been trailing Democrat Paul Davis in the polls, used an appearance on the “Joseph Ashby Show” on KQAM radio in Wichita to say that the media has not been giving good coverage to Davis’ policies. He also used the interview to tie Davis to President Barack Obama and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and blame Davis for the state’s woes. The interview was taped on Wednesday and aired during Thursday morning’s broadcast.
“When people know who Paul Davis is and how much he supports Barack Obama and how liberal he is, we’ll have a strong margin,” Brownback told Ashby, a conservative radio host.
Brownback said that he believes he has been trailing since the media attention has been focused on criticism of his time in office. He said he wants Kansas media to focus more on Davis, the state House minority leader, and also on his work to create jobs in the state.
“They are not covering Paul Davis and the issues he stands for,” Brownback said.
After Brownback’s interview ended, Ashby told a caller that he agreed with the governor’s criticism, saying that Kansas media has been critical of Brownback while supportive of Davis.
Brownback accused Davis of trying to hide his record as a liberal legislator from Lawrence and then of trying to hide from Kansans. Lawrence, the home of the University of Kansas, is the state’s most liberal city. Davis has been describing himself as a moderate during the election and has noted his backing from a group of former moderate Republican elected officials. The moderate Republicans, including those who have long feuded with Brownback, backed Davis during a July event.
“He tries to hide behind being a moderate when he has one of the most liberal voting records in the state,” Brownback told Ashby. “He’s hiding. He’s not been out publicly. That’s their strategy for him to hide during the election cycle. That’s why I was glad to get the debate.”
On his Twitter feed, Davis has been touting a series of campaign stops across the state during the summer.
Brownback used the interview to tout his own record, saying that he has added to education funding each year, created jobs and cut taxes, along with boosting the aviation industry in Wichita. At the same time he was quick to place blame with Davis for education cuts.
The Republican noted that former Gov. Mark Parkinson (D) made cuts to education aid during his tenure and then sponsored a sales tax hike, saying Davis voted for both. The sales tax hike, which was adopted in 2010, was supposed to be rolled back in 2013, but Brownback pushed through retaining a portion of the hike during the 2013 legislative session.
Brownback touted his own education record, saying he reversed cuts from Parkinson and increased state aid to education since 2011. Democrats and moderate Republicans have continuously attacked Brownback and conservative Republicans on the education issue, saying that the Republican governor has not increased aid to education, a charge conservatives have long denied. Earlier this year the state adopted a new education funding bill that addressed a state Supreme Court ruling on education aid issues.
Davis’ spokesman, Chris Pumpelly, told The Celock Report that Brownback’s attacks on Thursday’s show are an attempt by Brownback to get people not to focus on his record.
“Sam Brownback desperately wants to talk about anything everything but his record as governor of Kansas,” Pumpelly said in an email. “Why? Because Brownback’s record is dismal on everything from education to the economy. This race is about Kansas and how to get our state back on track.”
Brownback told Ashby that he believes the education attacks are part of a national Democratic strategy to attack Republican governors on the subject.
Brownback was quick to continue the strategy of connecting Davis with President Barack Obama, noting that Davis was a delegate for Obama in 2008 and 2012. He also was quick to tie Davis with Pelosi. Nationally Republicans have used Obama and Pelosi as common attacks against Democrats. While Obama is the son and grandson of Kansas natives, he is deeply unpopular in the state.
“When people know who Paul Davis is and how much he supports Barack Obama and how liberal he is, we’ll have a strong margin,” Brownback said. ““He is the Nancy Pelosi of Kansas. Do you want to go the liberal left in this state or a pragmatic conservative model.”
Obama has been a common attack line in the state with Republicans quick to tie Democrats and moderate Republicans to the president and Democrats and moderate Republicans distancing themselves from the president. During the August GOP primary, the Kansas Values Institute, which backed moderate Republicans, attempted to tie some of the state’s most conservative Republicans to Obama in attack pieces, a move the conservatives called “outlandish.” At the same time, a Republican political consultant circulated an online picture calling the moderate Republicans backed by KVI the “Obama Values Supporting Team.” KVI is chaired by a former senior campaign advisor to Obama in Kansas.
Brownback used the Ashby interview to tout his own record, noting that he has focused on creating a water plan for the western part of the state, and has focused on agriculture, including the cattle and dairy industries.
He said that his tax cuts, including a zero tax rate for LLCs, is growing small business. He said that jobs have gone up during his tenure. He also touted this week’s open of a new Ikea store in the Kansas City suburbs and an economic development announcement from AIG.
Democrats have been quick to attack the tax cuts saying that they are going to bankrupt the state and that they will cost the state jobs. Davis has said that jobs have been lost in the state. Davis has counted public sector job cuts in his count, while Brownback has touted numbers focused on private sector jobs. Brownback told Ashby that the tax cuts need to be looked at long term not short term, saying they will work.
Brownback told Ashby that the election comes down to what philosophy Kansans want.
“You have an Obama liberal in Paul Davis and a Reagan style conservative in me,” he said.