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Noonletter, Oct. 17, 2018

Crysta Henthorne
Kansas News Service

Money, money, money

People, apparently, still give money to the campaigns of congressional candidates. But the real action these days comes from different directions.

Consider, for instance, Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District. Sure, Democrat Paul Davis pulled in about $1.3 million over the last three months. And that’s more than four times Republican Steve Watkins collected from donors.

But Jim McLean notes that U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC has already spent more than $3 million, mostly on commercials attacking Davis. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has retaliated by flooding some $2.5 million primarily to tear apart Watkins.

Coming in one of those attacks ads soon ...

The Kansas City Star, which already reported that Watkins inflated his curriculum vitae, now has landed with a story suggesting that Watkins’ social media past feels a little anti-police.

The newspaper found that he clicked “like” on Facebook posts describing cops as “thug criminals” and racists — years before running for office, likening himself to President Donald Trump and eagerly supporting law enforcement.

Watkins is a West Point graduate and combat veteran. He shared a stage in Topeka with the president earlier this month.

Watkins “liked” a 2012 post where another man in a long-running dispute with police called two officers “thug criminals” and “liked” another missive that called an officer a coward.

Rolling polling

The New York Times self-described “live poll” continues to show incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder trailing Democratic newcomer Sharice Davids. University of Kansas political scientist Patrick Miller says that’s another troubling sign for the GOP in the Kansas City-area district.

One-stop voting. But only the one place.

Dodge City has just one, largish, voting location. The American Civil Liberties Union says that’s not enough for a city of 27,000-plus people. And the ACLU complains that putting the polling place on the outskirts of town makes voting all the more inconvenient.

Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox told Stephan Bisaha the city’s managed with a single voting location since at least the late 1990s. She said the place has about two dozen voting machines.

The Kansas Secretary of State’s office said there have not been complaints of long lines in the past, and that that’s what matters.

Sam I aren’t

The candidates for governor met in another debate on Tuesday, grumbling about the guy who used to be the state’s chief executive (and left for a federal job after as his popularity circled the drain).

Democrat Laura Kelly said Republican Kris Kobach would return the state to a Sam Brownback-like era of tax cuts that could throw Kansas government finances into ruin and rot out support for critical services.

Likewise, Kobach accused Kelly of being like Brownback by being soft on illegal immigration and raising sales taxes.

Things that go boom

Fort Riley will be the new home of Explosive Ordinance Detection battalion headquarters. EOD troops are the folks who handle explosives, often defusing or detonating roadside bombs in combat zones (improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in Army parlance).

The move brings more than 54 soldiers to the base near Junction City.


It was never in the Great Plains — the region ends hundreds of miles to the west — and it’s no longer a mall.

Now Salt Lake City-based Woodbury Corporation says in a news release it plans to convert the former the Great Mall of the Great Plains in Olathe into a mix of bars, shops and restaurants, two hotels, 300 apartments and a 4,000-seat multi-purpose arena, Kansas.

The company has named the project — way to go, corporate branding types — Mentum.

Scott Canon is digital editor of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @ScottCanon.

 Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

As the editor of a statewide news outlet, I aspire to work with our reporters to give Kansans a clear-eyed view of the place they call home. That means delivering hard-hitting stories that expose those things that keep Kansas from being the most vibrant, healthy place it can be. You can reach me at scott@kcur.org or 816-235-8023.
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