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My Fellow Kansans: How Did We Get Here?

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Thirty years after its hard turn to the right — driven largely by abortion politics and the anti-abortion Summer of Mercy protests — Kansas is on the cusp of what could be another course-changing event: the 2018 race for governor.

Kansans will have a choice to make in November when deciding between the three major candidates: moderate Democrat Laura Kelly, conservative Republican Kris Kobach and independent Greg Orman.

But beyond choosing a new governor, voters will also have to decide which direction to send Kansas: Will they return the state to its practical progressive roots? Lead it down a new independent path, free of divisive party politics, or keep traveling down the road it's been on for the last decade, toward an even redder red state?

Kansas politics have become more conservative. There’s no argument over that. But there’s plenty of disagreement about how, and why.

In this inaugural episode of My Fellow Kansans, host Jim McLean sets up a look at the history of the state and the forces that have shaped Kansas politics.

Among those heard in this episode:

Burdett Loomis, political scientist, @burdett_loomis

Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?@thomasfrank_

My Fellow Kansans is a production of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR in Kansas City, KMUW in Wichita, Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence, and High Plains Public Radio in Garden City.

The podcast is written and reported by Jim McLean, edited by Amy Jeffries, and mixed by Matthew Long-Middleton.

The production team includes Beth Golay, Nadya Faulx, Scott Canon, and Grace Lotz. Primary Color Music composed our theme.

Reporters Madeline Fox and Stephan Bisaha contributed audio to this episode.

Jim McLean is an editor and reporter for KCUR 89.3. He is the managing director of KCUR's Kansas News Service, a collaboration between KCUR and other public media stations across Kansas.