Politics/Elections

Last week, Kathryn Gardner was the second judge confirmed under Kansas’s new method of selecting appellate court judges, and her confirmation gives the state a look at the system Gov. Sam Brownback wants to use for choosing state supreme court justices.

Confirmation by a process "comfortable" for Kansans

Washburn law professor Michael Kaye says he thinks Gardner was a good choice.

“When I think of her temperament, I think she would be an excellent judge,” he says. 

Retired U.S. Sen. John Danforth  is blaming Missouri’s nasty political climate – and an alleged anti-Semitic “whispering campaign” -- for  state Auditor Tom Schweich’s suicide, and he is calling on officials in both parties to “make Tom’s death a turning point in our state.”

File photo

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander announced Thursday his candidacy for U.S. Senator in 2016. Kander made the announcement in a press release and in a video posted to his website

"For years, even with our economy suffering at home and our national security threatened abroad, too many politicians in both political parties have been more concerned with scoring political points than doing what's right for our country and its hurt all of us," he says in the video.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

On the second day of his gubernatorial campaign, Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich continued swinging at well-financed Republican primary opponent Catherine Hanaway.

"I'm very concerned about one billionaire in St. Louis who seems to be intent on not only buying the governor's mansion, funding over 70 percent of the campaign of my primary opponent, but also trying to buy certain legislators," Schweich said during a stop in Kansas City Thursday.

Ashley Booker, KHI News Service

Gov. Sam Brownback opened the 2015 Kansas legislative session Monday with an inaugural speech that emphasized strengthening families as a solution to the state’s financial woes.

Addressing newly elected legislators and statewide office holders in the House chamber, the governor said a “lack of healthy families” plays a major role in poverty, both in Kansas and nationwide.

“While many of our problems are economic and we will be second to none in addressing them, the reality is the solutions are principally cultural and moral,” Brownback said.

U.S. Senate

Putting an end to the speculation, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill says she won't run for governor in 2016.

The Missouri Democrat told KCUR's Steve Kraske she made the decision over the holidays with her family.

"At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if the job you're thinking about going for is better than the one you have, and can you do more?" McCaskill says.

The Associated Press reports that a federal grand jury is investigating loans to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s re-election campaign.  

The loans in question were most likely from Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer. Colyer loaned the Brownback  campaign half a million dollars three separate times, always just before a campaign finance report was due.  On at least two occasions the campaign paid the money back days later.  

Wiley Rein LLP

Former Kansas congressman Jim Slattery believes that a nuclear deal with Iran is possible after speaking with officials during a visit to Tehran December.

He says he was told by Iranians that it was the first time a current or former United States elected official has been invited to speak in the country since 1979.

Slattery had the opportunity to speak with Iranian officials during the International Conference on World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) in December. It was his first trip to the country.

Dank Depot / Flickr-CC

Last month, Missouri marijuana legalization group Show-Me Cannabis filed a ballot initiative for 2016 that seeks to regulate marijuana consumption the same as alcohol. Now, another petition is trying to give Missourians a broader option.

The Missouri Cannabis Restoration and Protection Act of 2016 seeks to fully legalize marijuana use and cultivation for all residents of Missouri, with no age limit.

While Kansas had other high profile campaigns in 2014, the race for U.S. Senate in Kansas was so unusual that it attracted a lot of attention. Political staffers and experts weighed in Thursday on that and the governor’s race as part of a panel by the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.

A couple of weeks before the election, the Kansas Department for Children and Families issued a press release that poverty in the state fell almost two and a half percent under Gov. Sam Brownback.

Brownback wasted no time incorporating those figures into the narrative of his success as governor.

“And just yesterday, poverty rates going down in the state of Kansas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” said Brownback at the gubernatorial debate in Wichita. “We are moving in the right direction and getting things done."

But the poverty rate information was wrong.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Following the strong Republican wins in Kansas elections this week, some people are trying to determine what drove the wave of victories for Republicans. Sen. Pat Roberts and Gov. Sam Brownback both won their races, but many polls before the election showed them neck-and-neck with their challengers or losing.

About 35 percent of Missouri voters took part in Tuesday’s midterm elections, according to Secretary of State Jason Kander. That’s about 1.5 million of the state's 4 million registered voters.

Knox and Schuyler counties in northeast Missouri and Worth County in northwest Missouri had the largest turnout.

Missouri sent its two only Democratic house members, Lacy Clay in St. Louis and Emanuel Cleaver in Kansas City, back to Washington.

Voters also approved two of four ballot amendments last night:

In Johnson County, Republicans celebrated big wins Tuesday in Kansas and across the country.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder celebrated his victory just as news broke in Topeka about one of Kansas' big-ticket races.

“Today we have re-elected our United States Senator and statesmen in Washington D.C., Pat Roberts,” Yoder said. 

Yoder says Roberts’ win proves pundits were wrong about Independent Greg Orman. He says Kansas has done its part to ensure a Republican majority in both houses of Congress.

Kansans voted to retain two Kansas Supreme Court justices under fire for their decision to overturn the death sentences of two brothers in one of the most notorious murder cases in the state’s history.

The two, Justice Eric S. Rosen and Justice Lee A. Johnson, were appointed to the court by former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Kansas Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor but stand for retention by voters at the end of their six-year terms.

WATCH: Greg Orman Concedes Kansas U.S. Senate Race

Nov 4, 2014

File photo

                                                                           

Ken Selzer, a conservative Republican who supports repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Kansas’ participation in a multi-state compact designed to allow member states to take control of their Medicare programs, has been elected Kansas insurance commissioner.

Selzer, 61, defeated Dennis Anderson, a Democrat, in the general election Tuesday.

Wikimedia Commons, user: Rama

Two of the four constitutional amendments on Missouri's 2014 Election ballot passed Tuesday, and two did not.

What passed:

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Incumbent Pat Roberts held on to his U.S. Senate seat Tuesday after besting Independent Greg Orman.

It was a surprisingly easy win for Roberts after a bruising battle to keep a place in Washington he's had for three decades.

Roberts made his victory speech at the Republican watch party in Topeka.

"We said for months the road to a Republican majority in the United States Senate lead through Kansas and we did it," said Roberts.

With all precincts reporting, Roberts beat Orman 53 percent to 43 percent.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Gov. Sam Brownback was re-elected as Kansas governor by a narrow margin Tuesday night after a tough campaign against Democratic challenger Paul Davis.

Brownback took a majority in crucial Johnson and Sedgwick counties, giving the Republican the edge over Davis, who ended up with 47 percent of the vote. Brownback landed 49 percent of the vote, and 4 percent went to Libertarian candidate Keen Umbehr.

"What a night!" Brownback exclaimed as he thanked supporters for the win. "Paul Davis ran a great race ... that State Fair debate is not one I will soon forget."

bigstock.com

Voters in Kansas went to the polls Tuesday to decide some heated races for both national and state political offices. The Kansas U.S. Senate seat and Governor's office races have been particularly intense. 

Below are the results for a selection of the races. You can find full results at the Secretary of State website.

Unofficial election results will be updated below as precincts across the state report results.

Updated: 1:10 p.m., Wednesday.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Voters in Missouri went to the polls Tuesday to vote for various political offices and four constitutional amendments that seek to change teacher tenure rules, trial procedures in cases of sexual crimes against minors, early voting periods and gubernatorial budgeting powers.

Below are the results for a selection of races and measures. You can find full results at the Secretary of State website.

Unofficial election results will be updated below as precincts across the state report results.

It’s still early to have much except anecdotal turnout numbers, but we are hearing back from people about their voting experiences.

Pretty uniformly, early voters are saying they've experienced a robust voting electorate. Some said they waited up to 30 minutes in line.

Jeffrey Benes told us when he voted in Westwood, Kan., at 7:10 a.m., he waited 20 minutes.

"It was good to see so many people turning out to vote," Benes said, "but I don't believe it is emblematic of the whole."

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

KCUR and KCPT's Hale Center for Journalism partnered to bring you live digital coverage of the 2014 midterm elections in Kansas and Missouri through a live blog.

Below is our compete live blog from beginning to end, just in case you want to live election night 2014 all over again.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Turnout for midterm elections typically lags behind turnout in a presidential election year, and this year appears to be no exception.

On the Kansas side, Secretary of State Kris Kobach estimates somewhere around 50 percent of the Kansas registered electorate will vote. That's slightly more than the average low to mid 40 percent who typically turnout for mid-terms.

The U.S. attorney for Kansas, Barry Grissom, says his staff will be available Tuesday to respond to any reports of election fraud or voting rights violations. Grissom isn't expecting problems, but he says with close races on the ballot they need to be prepared for any issues. 

With just one day left before midterm elections, this conversation explores how our behavior at the polls -- and even the decision to either get out and vote or stay home -- is influenced by personality, emotion, group affilation. In short, plenty having little if anything to do with cold hard facts.

Guests:

Poverty is a political issue in Kansas.

Gov. Sam Brownback campaigned in 2010 on a platform that included as one of its main goals reducing childhood poverty.  And since taking office, he has aggressively pursued that goal. But he’s done it his way.

BigStock image

Update: Nov. 4, 2014   2:30PM

On Election Day, respondents to a new Tell KC query told us their polling places were not well-equipped to help them vote.

Mary-Corinne Corely has cerebral-palsy-like symptoms in her legs due to an illness when she was an infant. Some days, she says, the symptoms make it impossible for her to do steps at all.

Cody Newill / KCUR

As Election Day approaches fast, Democrats in Kansas are bringing politicians across the state line to inspire voter turnout.

At a "Get Out the Vote" rally in Kansas City, Kansas Saturday, Missouri U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver toed a delicate political line. At no point did he directly endorse any of the Democratic candidates for political offices in Kansas, instead focusing on inspiring Democratic voters.

Pages