Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger is opposing fellow Republican Sam Brownback’s re-election as governor this year and has helped form a new, anti-Brownback group that includes his Democratic challenger’s lieutenant-governor running mate.
The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Praeger went public when the group announced its formation and posted a video online featuring its six sponsors, all women who are or have been prominent in Kansas politics. Three are Democrats and three, including Praeger, are GOP moderates.
The sponsors include Jill Docking, a Wichita businesswoman and former state Board of Regents member who’s running for lieutenant governor with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis, the Kansas House minority leader. Also among them is Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon, a former state revenue secretary and ex-Topeka mayor.
Davis has attempted to woo unaffiliated voters and GOP moderates unhappy with the conservative Republican governor by making public school funding a key issue. Davis and some moderate Republicans have been critical of massive personal income tax cuts enacted at Brownback’s urging to stimulate the economy, arguing that the reductions will starve school of funds.
In the video, Praeger says, “Many of us, many of my friends, would say, ‘Gosh how much worse can it get?’ And then it just kept getting worse.”
Praeger, who is not seeking re-election, already has broken with most Kansas Republicans over the federal health care overhaul championed by President Barack Obama. She’s described the Democratic president’s signature domestic policy as a good step toward providing universal health coverage, while Brownback and other GOP leaders are strong critics.
Clay Barker, the Kansas Republican Party’s executive director, described the six sponsors of the new group as “big fans of Obamacare.”
“And advocates of Obamacare know Paul Davis is their candidate. We’re confident a strong majority of Kansans believe differently,” Barker said.
The new anti-Brownback group is called Reroute the Roadmap, taking its name from the “Roadmap for Kansas” platform Brownback spelled out in his successful 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
The third Democrat among the group’s sponsors is state Sen. Laura Kelly, of Topeka, the ranking minority party member on the budget-writing Senate Ways and Means Committee.
The other two Republicans are former state Rep. and Kansas GOP Chairwoman Rochelle Chronister, of Neodesha, and former Lt. Gov. Sheila Frahm, of Colby, who served in the U.S. Senate in 1996 as an appointed replacement for Bob Dole, who ran for president that year. Frahm lost the 1996 GOP primary to Brownback, who held the seat until becoming governor.