Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Growing up in Shawnee, Tom Cox remembers looking up to “traditional Republicans.”

Politicians like Bill Graves, Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum – Kansans who were willing to reach across the aisle and set political ideology aside in the interest of public policy.

“My pitch at the door? ‘I’m running against a Brownback Republican, and I’m an anti-Brownback Republican,’” Cox says. “We need to save our state,” Cox says. “We need to focus on tax reform, education reform and protecting local governments as a start.”

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the Democratic nominee for governor, says he’s doing no more debates with Republican Eric Greitens unless Greitens releases his tax returns.

Koster made public his last four years of returns last week.

Greitens says he’s keeping his returns private, and he accuses Koster of backing out of any more debates because he’s “running scared’’ after their only joint appearance last week.

John Tully / NPR

Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence square off in the vice-presidential debate Tuesday night. Follow along below for live fact-checking and click here for a Kansas City-leaning bingo card. (Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine is from Kansas City, so listen up for a shout out.)

Jim McLean
KHI News Service

Kansas received more bad financial news on Monday when the state said tax collections in September missed projections by $45 million.

Since the new fiscal year started July 1, Kansas has collected $68 million less than expected.

But one state House leader is trying to put a good face on a bleak picture.

In an email to colleagues Sunday, Rep. Ron Ryckman, the conservative House budget chairman from Olathe, said lawmakers are facing "challenging times." But "we should not forget the groundwork that has been laid to begin improving the fiscal outlook," he wrote.

UPDATED: Democratic leaders in the Missouri House are suggesting that likely state representative-elect Steve Roberts Jr. reconsider taking the post in the wake of sexual assault allegations leveled against him by a fellow new legislator, Cora Faith Walker.

Roberts and Walker are both St. Louis-area Democrats who in August won their respective primaries in the 77th and 74th districts. They face no opponents in the November election.

Amid dueling news conferences held in the same building, Missouri’s two major candidates for governor are accusing each other of giving short-shrift to women, especially when it comes to sex trafficking and domestic violence.

Both candidates – Democrat Chris Koster and Republican Eric Greitens – were accused of displaying poor judgment on women’s issues and of accepting money from donors with questionable character when it comes to the treatment of women.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and his Democratic rival, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, stuck to their long-standing playbooks of pitches and attacks during their first – and possibly, only – joint appearance on the same stage.

They were among five U.S. Senate contenders on stage at Friday’s forum in Branson sponsored by the Missouri Press Association. 

Although Kander has accepted two other debate invitations, Blunt so far has not.

Kansans who register at motor vehicle offices will appear on the regular voter rolls and get standard ballots for the upcoming general elections. 

"If they call and ask if they're registered voters, they should be told that the answer is yes," says Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas. Online, those voters' status will be displayed the same as other registered voters. 

Lindsborg Police Department

A man involved in a racist incident at a rural Kansas college has been trying to gain a foothold in state politics.

The chalk outlines of bodies and messages including, “Make Lindsborg White Again," scrawled on Bethany College sidewalks earlier this month rattled the campus and surrounding community

A police report of the chalkings from Sept. 3 names Gabriel James Wilson as a suspect.

A huge majority of Kansans say they would support reducing non-violent drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor as a way to reduce the prison population in the state.

The poll from the ACLU of Kansas shows that 86 percent of those polled either strongly support or somewhat support what the organization calls the "defelonization of certain nonviolent drug convictions."


GOP incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri responded Tuesday to a much talked-about political ad by Secretary of State Jason Kander, fighting back as his Democratic challenger grows closer in the polls.

Bryan Thompson / KHI News Service

Kansas lawmakers — at least the majority of incumbents — think college campuses will be safer starting next July. That’s when a law they approved will allow people to carry concealed handguns on Kansas Board of Regents campuses.

But Joey Paz, a student at Kansas State University, said he’ll feel less safe.

“If this law would have been passed three years ago … I would have seriously considered not going to school in Kansas,” he said.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Kansas general election ballot is now set.

Officials in the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office late last week cleared the last hurdle to certifying the roster of candidates for the Nov. 8 election by granting presidential candidate Jill Stein’s request to change the person listed on the ballot as her vice presidential running mate.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts says the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is crucial for farmers wanting access to new and growing markets. But in the midst of the presidential campaign the deal faces an uphill battle.

Speaking on a panel at the Kansas State Fair Saturday, Roberts, who is the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman, distinguished the TPP from other trade deals. He says the agriculture industry stands to benefit too much for it to be allowed to fail.

Susie Fagan / KHI News Service

Former Democratic Gov. John Carlin and former Republican House Speaker Mike O’Neal have starkly different views on the condition of Kansas government. That divergence was plain as the two met in Topeka Thursday for a discussion about the size of government recorded for KCUR’s Statehouse Blend Kansas podcast.


O’Neal and Carlin agree on one thing -- that they don’t know exactly what the “right size” of state government is.


Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Hillary Clinton brought her campaign for president to the National Baptist Convention USA in Kansas City, Missouri, on Thursday. The Democratic nominee used gospel verses and personal stories to distinguish herself from Donald Trump.

People attending the convention are almost entirely African-American, conservative, middle-aged and dressed to the nines. In her address, Clinton, a life-long Methodist, quoted scripture to knowing smiles and nods. Some audience members even recited lines along with her. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Ministers and union leaders rallied Wednesday at Barney Allis Plaza in downtown Kansas City in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would require Missourians to show a photo ID before voting.

“This gathering is about the holding hands again of labor and faith as they did more than 50 years ago on the Washington Mall,” says Rev. Bob Hill, former pastor of Community Christian Church in Kansas City, Missouri.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

As the race for the U.S. Senate seat from Missouri is tightening, the candidates are taking on the bread-and-butter issues they hope will resonate with voters.

Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is challenging GOP incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt, on Wednesday met with a group of college students and university administrators about the high cost of college.

Kander told the group that he believes those costs – and resulting high student loan debt – is a middle-class issue that affects generations of families.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A bipartisan group of four former Kansas governors is predicting dire consequences if conservatives successfully oust four state Supreme Court justices.

Former Democratic Gov. John Carlin has the harshest assessment. If the justices are kicked off the bench in November's retention election "then the hole this (Brownback) administration has dug for us may be too deep to get out of," said Carlin, at a stop in Kansas City Tuesday. Carlin, who was in office from 1978-1986, also called this retention fight “chaos” and said it has “an indirect effect on economic growth” in the state.

Jim McLean / KHI News Service

A large section of what used to be Mercy Hospital in Independence, Kansas, has been torn down in the year since it closed.

On a hot August day, a bulldozer is prepping the lot where it once stood for construction of a new city garage.

Andy Taylor, the editor of the weekly Montgomery County Chronicle, says many residents of the community of about 10,000 still aren’t sure exactly what happened. But he says they believe city and state officials could and should have done more to save the hospital.

The redoubtable conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, who led a movement that for decades successfully thwarted liberal and feminist causes, including the Equal Rights Amendment, and helped uber-conservative candidates win elections, has died. She was 92.

Mrs. Schlafly died Monday afternoon at her Ladue home, surrounded by her family. She had been battling cancer, said daughter Anne Cori.

Mrs. Schlafly was a self-described “lifetime fulltime volunteer in public policymaking.” Although she held three degrees, including a law degree, and worked her entire life, albeit most of it without pay, she championed the role of full-time homemaker as a woman’s highest calling.

Eric Greitens, the victor of Missouri’s four-way Republican battle for governor, spent just over $10 million to win his party’s nomination.

The final campaign-finance reports for the Aug. 2 primary, due Thursday, show the four spent a combined total of $27.1 million — a record in Missouri for a statewide primary contest. The final spending almost mirrored the candidates’ election finish.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Speaking at a campaign stop in Lee’s Summit Friday, Missouri Republican gubernatorial hopeful Eric Greitens tried to position himself as more qualified than his Democratic opponent to lead on race relations.

“If you’re happy with Ferguson, you can vote for Chris Koster,” Greitens told the packed room. “If you’re happy with what you’re seeing at the University of Missouri, you can vote for Chris Koster.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon won’t be defending anyone.

Michael Barrett, the state’s public defender, earlier this month tried to assign the governor a case, citing an overburdened system and budget cuts from the state. Though Barrett argued he had the authority to do so under Missouri law, a Cole County judge on Thursday disagreed.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Talk of Missouri being in play as a presidential swing state this year is also being taken seriously with down-ticket state races.

FiveThirtyEight, the popular site of statistical stories, says polling showing Hillary Clinton within just two points of Donald Trump may make Missouri one of the states swinging from red to blue this year.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The postmortem on the primary election in Kansas is still going on. How did moderates oust so many incumbent conservatives?

One big reason is the unexpected emergence of a couple of grassroots education groups in Johnson County, especially one that sprang up just a few months ago.

On primary election night, Johnson County Republicans were gathered at the Marriott, their traditional place.

One by one, moderates picked off conservative seats in the Kansas House and Senate.

And in one corner, a group of moms was a little giddy.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has tapped two veteran GOP operatives to head up his state operation.

Aaron Willard, who has held several key posts in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, is Trump’s new state director. Todd Abrajano, a consultant with similar GOP ties, is to serve as Trump’s communications director.

Kansas Legislature

Primary election night was brutal for conservative Republicans in the Kansas Legislature. 

Six Republican members of the Senate lost their primaries. The more moderate candidates won two additional seats left open by conservatives who decided not to run for reelection.

Eight Republican House members were ousted in the primaries. The Kansas Chamber, which has been known to back lawmakers who align with Gov. Brownback on tax policy, had endorsed all of those defeated incumbents. Eight others the Chamber endorsed in 13 open House races also lost.

Abigail Wilson / KMUW

Primary losses by a Senate Republican leader and a slew of Johnson County conservatives Tuesday night will swing the Kansas Legislature back toward the center. Moderate Republicans won eight state Senate races against more conservative opponents, ousting six incumbents.

Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, a conservative Republican from Hutchinson, had aspirations of being the next Senate president. But former community college president Ed Berger defeated him handily in what was perhaps the most surprising result of the night.

Eric Greitens has emerged victorious from a bruising, four-way contest to be the Republican nominee for governor. He will face Attorney General Chris Koster, 51, who coasted to win the Democratic primary.