Saturday, August 19, 2006


Paying the Price

Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University, has told Scott Rothschild of the Lawrence Journal World that moderates will have a tough time toppling Willard and Bacon in the general election because much of the attention on the Board of Education races has subsided.

“The national attention is certainly off, so that will not be as big of a campaign factor,” Beatty said.

During the primaries, the challengers framed the debate as a board in crisis that needed to be “retaken,” he said.

Red State Rabble isn't so sure Beatty is right.

While many right-wing incumbents in the state school board election downplayed the evolution issue in the run up to the primary, the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and the Intelligent Design Network tried to turn the election into a referendum on evolution.

They succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of moderates across the state.

We don't yet know whether those two organizations will again make the science standards a key issue in the general election. If they do, it will play into the hands of moderates.

In addition, a high-profile speakers series that includes intelligent design activist Michael Behe and biologist Ken Miller, an eloquent defender of evolution, sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas and similar events at K-State and Washburn University will focus media attention on the issue in the coming months.

Then there's Bob Corkins.

Our sense is that the anger over the appointment of Corkins, a man with no experience or training in education, still rankles many Kansans. Under his leadership, the Kansas Department of Education is imploding as experienced professionals flee the department.

From what we hear, the exodus can be expected to continue over the coming months and it's hard to believe the media won't report the ongoing disintegration.

Both Bacon and Willard prevailed in the primary election, at least partly, because they were in three-way races where moderate strength may, to one degree or another, have been diluted. In November, Bacon and Willard will face strong challenges from Don Weiss and Jack Wempe in two-way races where moderate Republicans and Democrats can pool their strength to overcome conservative voters.

A second factor that right-wingers won't be able to count on in the general election is the exceptionally low turnout that played into conservative hands in the primary. Not only will the turnout be higher, but the election appears to be shaping up as repudiation of the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans.

There are two schools of thought on whether Kansas Republican, having voted for a Democratic Governor and Attorney General, will vote for a Democrat for school board, as well. RSR doesn't pretend to know the answer to that, but we suspect that the right-wing majority, having placed itself in the moderate's cross hairs, may well end up paying a price for pursuing the far-right social agenda they have over the past two years.


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