In the Republican primary battle to replace Dennis Moore in the Kansas 3rd District, conservative Charlotte O'Hara has decided against running for Congress. I'll argue to you that this leaves three viable candidates: Former Rep. Patricia Lightner, former Sen. Nick Jordan, and current Rep. Kevin Yoder. It's time for both libertarian/fiscal conservatives and for pro-life/social conservatives to support Patricia Lightner.
Before I go on, I want to be clear that I personally like all three of these candidates. My arguments to you are policy-based and strategy-based:
- Patricia Lightner:
- A fiscal and social conservative. Was in the Kansas House from 1998-2004, during far more trying times for a conservative politician: In 1991, there were literally only 11 House conservatives out of 125, and today there are 50-55 (63 making a majority).
- It's important to note that many voters who once opposed Lightner in a congressional primary are now enthusiastically supporting Lightner. This includes me. In the 2004 3rd District primary, there were three candidates: the well-known moderate Adam Taff, the well-known conservative Kris Kobach, and the lesser-known pro-life Rep. Patricia Lightner. Kobach ended up narrowly winning the primary. I was a Kobach supporter, and man did we want Lightner to drop out of the race, because we were concerned that the pro-life vote would be unnecessarily divided. Humorously, only after the primary, and after being able to look at the precinct breakdowns, did it become known that Lightner's strength with female moderate voters may have actually helped Kobach by taking votes away from Taff. What we can learn from the 2004 race: Lightner is a determined person who is not easily pressured, and, frankly, we need more men and women like this in Congress.
- The well-respected Kellyanne Conway is working with her from the national end of things.
- Nick Jordan: Very much like George W. Bush. Many of us should be more like him, with regard to character and personality. Pro-life. But importantly and unfortunately: he is not conservative. As far as I can tell, he does think he is conservative, which makes for awkward politics.
- His voting record indicates that he believes that government should be intimately involved in the economy.
- A talking point for him is "economic development," which to the rest of us screams "taking from the less influential, to give to the more influential." After the US Supreme Court Kelo decision on property rights, and when most conservatives wanted to protect property rights, Jordan actually authored his own anti-property-rights legislation. Fortunately, Kansas ended up passing one of the toughest laws in the nation, requiring the full support of the Legislature and Governor in order for a local government to use eminent domain for "economic development.
- During the early-2008 legislation session, and while Jordan knew he would be the 2008 nominee for US Congress, he voted for a massive, unnecessary tax increases for "education" that exists solely in the largest county in the 3rd District.
- SCHIP: Voted for socialized medicine for Kansans whose income is up to 250% of the federal poverty guidelines. That's the middle class, it's unsustainable, it's bad policy, and it's bad politics.
- Strategy-related: I cannot imagine a situation in which a Congressman Jordan would then risk political capital in order to frequently campaign for local and state conservatives.
- Kevin Yoder:
- Frankly, I trust Yoder a little more on economic issues than Jordan.
- Main concern: For better and worse, Yoder is an excellent politician. He was student body president at KU, where he was a Democrat. He was drafted by far-far-left "Republicans" at age 26 to run as a Republican for an open state house seat. That was 2002. Since then, his voting record has been a gradual, very significant shift to the right. To Yoder's credit, one of his original "drafters" -- a guy named Dick Bond who surely thought that Bob Dole was too conservative -- told Yoder that "I won't put your sign in my yard anymore" because Yoder voted against in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, during a time when Bond was on the Board of Regents (overseeing all universities).
- Few dispute that Yoder's record has been quite good in recent years. But nobody knows whether the shift is due to a personal shift in thinking, or whether it's due to his (proper) understanding of most Republican voters.
- Traditional marriage: OK by me, to be honest. While he voted against the state marriage amendment (which I supported), and while he would vote against a complete federal marriage amendment, he has assured me that in Congress, he would vote for a Fred Thompson-DOMA-type constitutional amendment that would protect state rights.
- Mixed record on pro-life: I expect that he would vote for federal funding of cloning and embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). He won't commit to voting against it. He did vote the pro-life way, when it came to late-term abortions in Kansas. In 2008, he received the Kansans for Life endorsement in the general election, against his Democratic opponent; though, oddly, he didn't request the endorsement, so I'll add that to the list of, well, less-expected things done by KFL in recent years.
- Not reassuring: most of his campaign fundraising so far has been from area liberals. Again, nobody knows what to make of it: is Yoder merely "the most moderate they can get," or do they know something we don't?
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).