New Polls Shows Gains For Brownback

By John Celock

A new poll released Monday afternoon shows Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) with a lead over his opponent Democrat Paul Davis.

The poll from Rasmussen Reports shows Brownback leading Davis 47 percent to 40 percent. The results are a turn from earlier polls that showed Davis, the minority leader of the state House of Representatives, narrowly leading Brownback by two points.

The poll comes as the race for Kansas governor kicks into high gear with the closing days of the annual legislative session coming. Davis and Democrats have been hoping to use Brownback’s record, including tax cuts and a controversial new law that abolishes teacher tenure against him. The race has drawn attention from national Democratic groups, who hope to use Brownback’s mixed approval ratings to grab a governorship in a red state.

Any national Democratic support for Davis would blunt a likely avalanche of support from Brownback from conservative groups.

Brownback and his allies are positioning the governor as a job creator who has created a positive economic environment with the tax cuts. Democrats are arguing that Brownback has hurt the state’s revenue stream with the cuts.

Republicans are also centering in on the school financing part of the education bill, noting that Brownback and the GOP-controlled Legislature were able to pass a new bill to meet a state Supreme Court ruling for a more equitable school-funding plan in the state. Democrats and moderate Republicans had called for a bill only focusing on school finance issues and not on policy issues like tenure.

The gubernatorial poll comes days after Rasmussen confirmed the unpopularity of the last Democrat to win the Kansas governorship, outgoing U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. A poll released Friday shows U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) easily defeating Sebelius 54 percent to 37 percent if she were to oppose Roberts this year.

Sebelius has said she does not plan to oppose Roberts following a report last week that she could potentially challenge the three-term senator. Politicians on both sides of the aisle in Kansas told The Celock Report last week it was unlikely Sebelius, who has won statewide office four times, would seek public office in the state again, citing her role in the botched rollout of Obamacare last year. President Barack Obama and the health care law are deeply unpopular in Kansas.