A Change of Opinion

by

November 3, 2010

Kristi Smith Wyatt, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Policy Development

Well, it was quite an election day… particularly for Republicans, having taken over the U.S. House and increased their domination of both the Missouri and Kansas Legislatures. 

These elections will have serious repercussions for metro KC. 

FEDERAL ELECTIONS

Consider the metro region’s clout in the national picture.  Kansas’ senior congressional member is  Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) who was first elected to the 2nd District House seat in 2008.  The 1st, 3rd and 4th Kansas Congressional seats will all be held by freshman.  Missouri’s House delegation survived with the exception of Ike Skelton who was first elected in the mid-70’s.  Former state representative Vicky Hartzler defeated Skelton decisively.  

Next, let’s look at political makeup.  Skelton’s defeat makes Missouri’s congressional makeup 2/3rds Republican.  Russ Carnahan held on to keep his seat in Missouri’s 3rd Congressional district against a tough challenger, Ed Martin, former chief of staff to former Governor Matt Blunt.  And, Republicans now hold all four congressional seats in Kansas. 

The U.S. Senate make up in Missouri and Kansas appears to be virtually unchanged with Roy Blunt soundly defeating Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan to move into Kit Bond’s long-held seat and Congressman Jerry Moran leaving his Kansas 1st district seat for the Senate seat previously held by Kansas Governor-elect Sam Brownback.

The newly-elected members of Congress will bring new attitudes to Capitol Hill including a more discerning look at earmarks, which supporters say has provided valuable support and jobs in the greater Kansas City area while detractors point to as an drain on the nation’s resources.  The Chamber’s big work begins today as we strive to build relationships with our new congressional members and strengthen old ties with officials who are moving up in both states.  The Chamber will serve as a valuable resource to these leaders as they learn about the strengths and opportunities in our dynamic region and as they work to understand the key needs of our business community.

MISSOURI STATEWIDE ELECTIONS

Republicans cleaned up in the elections for House and Senate.  Republicans in the Senate will occupy all but 8 seats!  In the Missouri House, Republicans captured 17 seats from the Democrats.  This leaves the House majority to a near veto proof at 106 of 163, three votes short of the 109 needed to override Gov. Nixon’s vetoes. 

Some interesting races

SENATE 34: Rob Schaff (R) won over Martin Rucker (D) by a whopping 15 points.
HOUSE 32:  Incumbent Dem Jason Grill defeated by less than 1 percent to Republican Ron Schieber.
HOUSE 52: R  Noel Torpey defeated D Robbie Makinen
HOUSE 124: Incumbent Democrat Luke Scavuzzo squeezes out a win over Rick Brattin

KANSAS

State-wide:  As expected, Senator Sam Brownback will be the new Governor of Kansas, winning by 63%.  All Republicans were elected to the other state-wide jobs.

House:  Fourteen Democrat incumbents lost their seats, including five from Johnson County and two open seats formerly held by Democrats were won by the Republican candidates.  In addition to there being no more than 34 Democrat votes (two races are still undecided), moderate Republicans took a hit as well, casting doubt that there will be other Democrat/moderate Republican coalitions such as the one that helped advance so many of the progressive policies the chamber supported last year, including school funding, transportation funding, and the 1-cent state sales tax increase which prevented devastating cuts to education, social services, and public safety.

Senate:  Only one Senate special election this year – Terrie Huntington of Johnson County won easily.

KANSAS CITY ISSUES/BALLOTING

Results in Kansas City were interesting to say the least as Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved renewal of the public safety sales tax for additional 15 years, and voted for Prop A (south of the river voters voted against Proposition A, while north of the river voted in favor of it).  This is a highly intriguing dynamic, with northland residents often sharing their displeasure with police, fire and ambulance response times.  Money collected from the earnings tax essentially funds the KCPD’s operations and about ½ of the Kansas City fire department.  If the earnings tax were rejected by Kansas City voters in April, Kansas City would have to make draconian cuts in police, fire and ambulance services, or seek for substantial increases in both property tax and sales tax – which of course is not assured, due to Hancock amendment that requires a public vote on any new tax increase.

Now the real work will begin to retain the earnings tax, a campaign which will run concurrent with the battles for Mayor and City Council in Kansas City.

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One Response to “A Change of Opinion”

  1. Greg Patterson Says:

    The thing that struck me most was that 5% fewer people nationally voted than voted in 2006 and many more fewer than in 2008. Hispanic voting was low and where it was high such as Nevada, Colorado, and California outcomes tended more positive for Dems. Voting by people under 30 was down roughly 10 points nationally from 2008 and where it was higher (no pun intended) in places like CA. outcomes were more positive for Dems. I would be interested in such data for Missouri and Kansas. With the economy improving over 2008 and no Bush administration to run against lots of people didn’t vote and clearly the motivated Republication minority of the electorate got their voters out.

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