By John Celock
The day after the Kansas primary showed the Republican Governors Association targeting Democratic gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis for his past support of President Barack Obama.
The RGA posted a commercial Wednesday singling out Davis’ support for Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections and painting Davis, who is highlighting a moderate image, as a liberal. The ad comes the day after Gov. Sam Brownback (R) secured the GOP nomination over little known Jennifer Winn with 63 percent of the vote.
“When few supported Barack Obama there was a liberal Lawrence legislator who believed,” the ad says. “Paul Davis helped organize Kansas for Barack Obama.”
The ad notes that Davis, the state House minority leader from Lawrence, was an Obama delegate in both 2008 and 2012. The ad includes a photo of Davis standing in front of an Obama sign in what appears to be an Obama campaign office. It says that Davis continued his backing for Obama in 2012 after what the RGA says is a failed stimulus package, problems with Obamacare, government bailouts and economic problems.
The ad concludes by asking voters not to “delegate Kansas to an Obama liberal.”
Davis’ campaign could not be reached for immediate comment. In recent days, Davis has taken to stressing a bipartisan approach, saying he wanted Republicans and independents to join him.
Davis has been endorsed by 100 moderate Republicans, largely former elected officials, including several who had been defeated by conservatives backed by Brownback in the 2012 primary. The endorsement news didn’t go off without a hitch, with former U.S. Rep. Jan Meyers (R-Kan.), who Davis said endorsed him, saying she never endorsed Davis. Meyers would go on to endorse Brownback.
The ad continues what has become a successful theme in Kansas politics of connecting politicians with Obama. During the 2012 state legislative races, outside groups tied moderate Republican and Democratic lawmakers to the president, with several Democrats taking steps to say they have not been in the same room as Obama.
While Obama is the son and grandson of Kansas natives, he is deeply unpopular in the state.
During this year’s primary campaign, Republicans in the state criticized the involvement of the Kansas Values Institute, a 501(c)(4) organization on behalf of moderate GOP candidates. KVI is chaired by Dan Watkins, a former senior campaign advisor to Obama and the other board members are former state Senate Vice President John Vratil (R-Leawood) and former state Rep. Jill Quigley (R-Overland Park), moderate Republicans who have endorsed Davis.
Last week, Republican political consultant Jared Suhn circulated a picture on social media calling moderate Republicans backed by KVI the “Obama Values Supporting Team.” Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills), one of the moderates, told The Celock Report that the only thing she has in common with Obama is liking Oklahoma Joes barbecue. Several conservative Republican legislators in the state also found themselves targeted by KVI mailers saying they were close to Obama Democrats and the president, charges they denied.
“It’s about as far from the truth as you can get. They obviously stretched themselves,” Rep. Amanda Grosserode (R-Leawood), a conservative Republican, told The Celock Report earlier this week. “I don’t even know what to say. How can you compare a conservative Republican to Obama? There is nothing in common. We’re elected officials, it ends there.”