Kris Kobach’s fingerprints are all over House Bill 2271, which I wrote about last week.
I thought so at the time I penned the column, but I couldn’t prove it, so I let it go. But now we all know better. Our secretary of state came out of the shadows.
The bill would do three major things.
It would require that all local elections, from the county commission to school boards to mayors and city councils to community college trustees to water board members, run in partisan elections. All of those are nonpartisan.
It would also move the date of local elections from the spring to August primary elections and November general elections in even-numbered years.
And buried deep within the bill, which I did not enumerate last week, is the requirement that all school board members be elected at-large.
As it is now, all but one school district in Johnson County, large and small, elect six school board members by districts and one at-large. Shawnee Mission elects five by district and has two at-large positions.
The first hearing in Topeka on this bill in the Committee on Elections was last Wednesday, when there were so many opponents who wanted to speak, including our county commission chairman Ed Eilert, each was allotted only two minutes.
There were but two proponents who spoke.
And one of those was none other than Kris Kobach, whose office worked on this bill.
He said in his testimony that he could not support moving election dates (which may be a popular proposition) without making all elections partisan.
“If we really care about local participation,” Kobach said, “the bill achieves that result.”
He reportedly also said it is confusing to voters to have some elections partisan and some nonpartisan.
What Kobach did not say is what I said last week.
By going to partisan elections with August primary elections, the door is opened to right-wing voters and special interests to dominate the outcomes.
It is difficult to grasp the reasoning behind making all school board members elected at-large. One astute Johnson County superintendent believes it would make it far easier for far-right candidates to be recruited for at-large positions, rather than by narrow districts. But mostly this intrusion into the way we elect school board members has school officials scratching their heads.
But back to Kobach.
Here he is again, stirring up controversy.
Everything he touches has ulterior motives behind it. In this case, although he would never admit it, Kobach is trying to manipulate the system to elect right-wing Republicans to every office in the state. He wants absolute control over who gets elected.
Of course, Kobach is one of the most clever and brilliant Kansas politicians in recent times, so he tries to make you think he is looking out for Kansans. And he says so eloquently.
Meanwhile, Kobach is really trying to build a fiefdom.
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