By John Celock
The Republican governor of Kansas is taking on President Barack Obama in a new ad as he continues his tight battle for a second term.
Gov. Sam Brownback (R) unveiled a new ad Monday showcasing his belief that state government is the best spot to handle issues, focusing specifically on environmental, agriculture and drought issues. The ad is the latest attempt by Brownback to bring the unpopular Obama into his campaign against Democratic nominee Paul Davis, who has been leading in recent polls.
Brownback specifically targets the Obama Administration’s decision to declare the lesser prairie chicken a threatened species, a move opposed by Kansas Republicans. Opponents of the lesser prairie chicken decision said the decision will harm oil and wind energy production by preventing creation of new wells and turbines in the area that the chickens call home. Brownback has said it would cost jobs in western Kansas, a region focused on energy production for economic development.
“We’re the ones who have been wrestling with this problem for years,” Brownback said in the ad, noting that Obama believes that he knows best.
Last month, Kansas joined a lawsuit to block the lesser prairie chicken decision. The bird is found primarily in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado and has dropped in numbers in recent years.
Brownback, a former U.S. senator, also used the ad to focus on drought issues, saying that he is focused on bringing more water to farmers and that state government should be the level that solves the drought crisis. The drought has been of concern to Kansas farmers for years and is a main topic among those in rural areas of the state.
“The big problem we have now is drought and Washington can’t solve it. I am glad they can’t solve drought,” Brownback said in the ad. “If they could mess with weather they probably would and it wouldn’t be right and people wouldn’t be happy.”
Brownback has made Obama a theme of his campaign, noting Davis’ past support for Obama. Brownback allies notes that Davis is backed by the Kansas Values Institute, which is chaired by a former senior campaign advisor to Obama. The Republicans Governors Association has run an ad noting that Davis was an Obama delegate in 2008 and 2012. The anti-Obama theme was used successfully by conservative Republicans in 2012 in campaigns to defeat moderate Republicans and Democrats for state legislative seats.
KVI also got into the anti-Obama campaign, attempting to tie several of the most conservative Republicans in the state Legislature to the president during this year’s GOP primaries, a move called “outlandish” by conservatives. KVI was backing moderate Republicans in those races. A Republican consultant over the summer circulated an online ad saying calling Republicans backed by KVI the “Obama Values Supporting Team.” While Obama is the son and grandson of Kansas natives he is deeply unpopular in the state.
Davis has taken steps to distance himself from Obama and has not appeared with the president. Former state Senate President Steve Morris (R-Hugoton), a moderate Republican backing Davis, told The Celock Report last month that backing Obama at the Democratic National Conventions in 2008 and 2012 was part of Davis’ duties as state House minority leader.
In 2013, Davis used his Facebook page to criticize the four-member all GOP Kansas U.S. House delegation for voting against federal disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy, saying that Kansas would need similar aid due to the drought and tornadoes.
Former state Senate President Dick Bond (R-Overland Park), a moderate Republican, used his July endorsement of Davis alongside 100 other moderate Republicans to criticize Brownback on drought policy.
“He wants to blame the mess in Kansas on Barack Obama,” Bond said in a statement posted online. “From our stalled economy to his ill-advised tax policy to our struggling schools to the Kansas drought. But the only person to blame for this mess is Sam Brownback.”