Politics/Elections

A cold arctic blast greeted lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters who filtered into the state Capitol Wednesday for the start of Missouri's 2017 legislative session.

But it didn't take long for things to heat up, at least on the House side of the building.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was passed over for cabinet level posts as head of the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, but reports  now suggest the Trump administration may be creating a special post just for him – that of “immigration czar.”

Greitens workout
Brian Ellison / KCUR 89.3

Laying out a central theme of his first-year agenda, Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens told a group of law enforcement officers, recruits and their families Tuesday that he would have their back when he takes office next week.

Capitol
Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio

The head of Eric Greitens’ transition team outlined the Missouri governor-elect’s legislative priorities for 2017 and new details on inaugural and transition activities during a conference call on Thursday.

Greitens will be sworn in at noon on Monday, January 9.

Austin Chambers, who will be a senior adviser in the new administration, says Greitens will focus his legislative efforts on laws related to jobs, ethics reform, public safety and education reform.

Once perceived as all-powerful, Missouri’s two major political parties have been relegated to the balcony ever since the state got rid of campaign-donation limits in 2008.  That change allowed the bulk of the state’s political cash to flow directly to the candidates. 

The state Republican and Democratic parties found most of their income eliminated, and ended up being beholden to their top politicians for payments just to keep their offices open and staffed. 

But now, unless the courts rule otherwise, Missouri once again has campaign donation limits for some elective offices, courtesy of Amendment 2, which almost 70 percent of the state's voters approved last month. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was in New York on Thursday for another meeting with President-elect Donald Trump.

After his highly-publicized first meeting with Trump in New Jersey on Nov. 20, Republican party officials in Kansas are speculating this second round is more than a suggestion that Kobach will land a job in the new administration.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway was in Kansas City Tuesday to announce her support for legislation that would increase penalties for government officials who steal public money.

Sen. Bob Dixon, a Springfield Republican, has pre-filed legislation that would make official misconduct in the first degree a felony carrying a possible four-year sentence. Currently, it's a misdemeanor. 

It would also give local prosecutors more time to recover damages in cases of fraud or corruption.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

There will be a political shift in the Kansas legislature with the new leaders lawmakers selected Monday. Conservatives will hold on to the very top jobs for 2017, but more moderate Republicans also picked up key positions. There is turnover among some of the Democratic leadership posts too.

All the change reflects gains made by moderate Republicans in the August primaries, and gains by Democrats in November, especially in the House. The move to the center on the Senate side is more subtle, but nonetheless notable.

“Elections have consequences and this election pretty much showed it’s going to be a fairly blended leadership team,” said Rep. Dan Hawkins, a conservative Republican from Wichita who lost a bid for leadership job.

Updated Dec. 8  from Dec. 1 article to reflect more donations and suit actually filed - Opponents filed suit Wednesday to block part of Missouri’s new campaign donation law slated to go into effect Thurday. The suit doesn't challenge the new campaign-finance limits, but does ask the court to block a ban on some donors.

Meanwhile, some politicians – notably Gov.-elect Eric Greitens – appear to be taking advantage of the guaranteed one-month window to stock up on cash before the new limits go into effect. On Wednesday, the final day of unlimited donations, Greitens collected $2,382,860.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

After certifying the Kansas election results, Secretary of State Kris Kobach told reporters in Topeka this week he agrees with President-elect Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claim that ballots cast by non-citizens cost him the popular vote.

It comes as no surprise. Trump's assertion sounds like something that could have come from the secretary himself. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he supports President-elect Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in the election.

Trump has argued that he would have beaten Democrat Hillary Clinton in the popular vote count if not for illegal votes cast. Clinton leads Trump by more than 2 million votes, but Trump won the presidency by winning the Electoral College.

Kansas Legislature, coloring by Kelly Tate

Next Monday, Dec. 5,  all the lawmakers elected to the Kansas Legislature will meet in Topeka to nominate new leadership for the 2017 session.

Without a doubt, there will be many more Democrats and moderate Republicans in the statehouse this time. Conservative Republicans lost roughly a third of their seats in the just-certified elections. 

But conservatives will still be the single biggest faction in both the House and the Senate, and so a lot depends on who they back for top posts. 

How many moderates?

Updated at 11:50 a.m. with additional comments and information on the replacement process.

A leading liberal voice in the Missouri legal community has died.

Judge Richard Teitelman was 69. The Missouri Supreme Court confirmed his death in a brief press release Tuesday morning.  Teitelman had been dealing with health problems for some time, including complications from diabetes.

Courtesy Vicki Hiatt

The Johnson County Election Office went ahead with a vote recount sought by Kansas Senate candidate Vicki Hiatt even though she withdrew her request, citing irregularities and what she described as the office’s lack of transparency.

The election office said on Wednesday that the recount had left the outcome of the District 10 race unchanged. It said Republican Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook defeated Hiatt, a Democrat, by the identical 952-vote margin reported earlier, with each candidate receiving one additional vote from paper ballots.

Stunned by the magnitude of their Election Day losses, Missouri’s Democratic leaders are taking stock as they seek to regroup.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she’s in the midst of “a listening tour’’ to gauge where she and other party activists went wrong, and what needs to be done. But McCaskill emphasized in an interview that she doesn’t buy into the narrative that Missouri Democrats were punished at the polls for ignoring rural voters and working-class whites.

Courtesy of Thomas Frank

Kansas was the birthplace of Prohibition and an epicenter of the anti-abortion movement.

Historian and political analyst Thomas Frank — a Mission Hills native — wrote a whole book, What's the Matter With Kansas, about how politics in the state has been fueled by conservative social ideals.

It's no secret that Donald Trump campaigned as a champion of gun rights, but a Trump administration poses both welcome relief and an immediate problem for the gun industry.

For Larry Cavener, who recently visited a new gun shop called Tactical Advantage in Overland Park, Kan., this election means he can breathe easier.

"This means that we're not gonna be under siege for a few years, and it seems like it has been," Cavener says.

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Jordan, a Kansas City psychology professor and mother of two, spent a euphoric Election Day believing the country was electing its first female president.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The latest Kansas revenue numbers could make it hard for freshman lawmakers from Johnson County to keep all their campaign promises.

On Thursday, state officials lowered the forecast for future tax collection once again. It’s expected Kansas will come up $350 million short this fiscal year, and $600 million next.

And instead of acting now to balance the budget, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is passing the buck to state lawmakers.

Republican Donald Trump won the electoral vote in both Kansas and Missouri. Rural counties showed the greatest support for Trump.

Here's a look at the vote percentages for the leading candidates for president in the 14 counties that make up the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). An MSA is a geographic region with an urban core and close economic ties throughout the area, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

 

Source: Politico

Laura Ziegler 89-3

An anti-establishment wave that rippled across the country Tuesday night didn't seem to put a damper on support for a host of tax increases in Kansas and Missouri. Voters in a number of counties supported sales and property taxes to fund public services in a number of municipalities.

Here's a look at them:

The Combat Tax

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10 a.m. Nov. 9 with results from Johnson County.

Democrats gained enough Kansas House seats in Tuesday’s election to form a coalition with moderate Republicans to pass or block right-wing legislation.

But any such coalition will be more tenuous in the Senate after Democrats gained just one seat there.

Gov. Sam Brownback and conservative Republican allies have controlled the legislative agenda since moderate GOP leaders were purged from the Senate in 2012.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Updated 3:47 p.m., Wednesday

A “huge influx” of advance mail ballots and voters newly registering or changing their registration before the election combined to delay the county’s election results until early Wednesday afternoon, Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker said.

“We were overwhelmed with the turnout of the voters in almost every step of the way in this election,” Metsker said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “It was almost as unique in Johnson County as it was in other parts of the country.”

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Former Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley, a Democrat, conceded the race for Missouri Attorney General to her Republican opponent Josh Hawley late Tuesday night.

"We have a future that we know is not how we intended it to come out," Hensley told about 40 people at the at the Pipefitters Union Hall in south Kansas City. "But we can't stop working for what we believe in."

Kansas Supreme Court

After roughly a million dollars in TV and radio ads plus a blizzard of postcards, the Kansas Supreme Court didn't change one bit with Tuesday's elections.

With a majority of precincts reporting, all four of the justices who had been targeted by the Republican Party, Kansans for Life and other conservative groups comfortably won retention.

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On a night when Democrats and moderate Republicans in Kansas had some significant wins, the case can be made that Missouri took several steps to the right of its neighboring state.

1. Republicans rule the top of the ticket.

Missouri General Election Results 2016

Nov 8, 2016
apalapala / Flickr-CC

Below are the results for a selection of contested races and measures in the Missouri general election. You can find full results at the secretary of state's website.

Updated 12:40 p.m., Wednesday

U.S. SENATE
All precincts reporting

Roy Blunt (R) - WINNER
Votes: 1,370,240
Percent: 49%

Jason Kander (D)
Votes: 1,283,222
Percent: 46%

GOVERNOR
All precincts reporting

Kansas General Election Results 2016

Nov 8, 2016
KCUR 89.3

Below are the results for a selection of contested races and measures in the Kansas general election. You can find full results at the secretary of state's website.

Updated 9:41 a.m., Wednesday

U.S. SENATE
Precincts reporting: 3,469 of 3,509

Jerry Moran (R)
Votes: 715,354
Percent: 62

Patrick Wiesner (D)
Votes: 367,586
Percent: 32

NPR LIVE BLOG: Election Night 2016

Nov 8, 2016
Gage Skidmore / BU Rob13 / Wikimedia Commons

Today, as results come in across the country, NPR reporters will be updating this breaking news blog in real time. The NPR Politics team, along with member station reporters, will be providing live updates in the form of photo, video, commentary and analysis for both national and local contested races.

KCUR reporters and anchors will also bring elections coverage on-air and through two election results posts for Missouri and Kansas. 

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

At the end of the balloting today, the complexion of both the Kansas Legislature and the state’s highest court could be radically different.

There’s less suspense about the top of the ticket, at least as far as Kansas goes. Unlike the razor thin margins in some presidential battleground states, polls show Republican Donald Trump well ahead of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the reliably-red Sunflower State.

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