The following are The Eagle editorial board's recommendations for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and Kansas governor. We offer these recommendations as information to consider as you make up your own minds about the candidates. Your vote in the Aug. 3 primary is the endorsement that counts.
It was difficult to pick the best candidate in this primary, in part because both of the major candidates have strengths and weaknesses, but also because of all the negative campaigning. Both candidates are better than their campaign commercials, and they didn't help restore public faith in government with their mudslinging and attempts to out-conservative each other. Shame on them both.
But Rep. Jerry Moran , R-Hays, is our pick because he has a better statewide perspective on issues and should provide a more reasoned, balanced approach to lawmaking.
Moran was first elected to the U.S. House in 1996. Because he has represented the 1st Congressional District, which covers about three-quarters of the state, Moran has an excellent understanding of the issues facing the state, particularly related to agriculture and rural health care. He is smart and personable. One knock on Moran over the years has been that he has seemed passive and indecisive at times and, as a result, hasn't stood out as a member of Congress. However, he also has shown some independence in his voting — though he still votes overwhelmingly with his party. If elected to the Senate, Moran needs to show more independence and assertiveness.
Rep. Todd Tiahrt , R-Goddard, has been an effective House member representing the 4th Congressional District. His assertiveness and, at times, combativeness have helped him obtain needed funding for Wichita-area projects and programs. He's a fighter who knows how to get things done in Washington, D.C. But Tiahrt can be too ideological, relying on GOP talking points and marching orders. His campaigning and claims this election also have crossed the line. We considered endorsing Tiahrt for parochial reasons, knowing he will fight for Wichita's interests. But Moran's more deliberative style is a better fit for the Senate and the state.
Our pick is state Sen. David Haley , D-Kansas City, Kan., an attorney and 16-year veteran of the Legislature who is the only Democrat in the race to have held elective office and run a statewide campaign (secretary of state in 2002 and 2006). Haley's reputation for being less than organized persists, but he's an affable, effective lawmaker who thinks for himself, speaks his mind and works well with Republicans. His legislative successes include laws targeting animal cruelty and racial profiling.
Two other candidates make good impressions but lack the requisite qualifications for such a high office: Charles Schollenberger of Prairie Village, a journalist and communications executive who supports health care reform and financial reform and would address the deficit in part by ending the "unnecessary wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan; and Lisa Johnston of Overland Park, an assistant dean at Baker University whose top priority is education.
Also on the ballot are attorney Patrick Wiesner of Lawrence and retiree Robert Conroy of Shawnee.
In November, the winning Republican and Democrat will share the ballot with Libertarian candidate Michael Dann and Reform candidate Joseph K. Bellis.
The reason candidates resort to negative campaigning is because it usually works. Despite how much people complain about mudslinging, they rarely hold candidates accountable for it in the voting booth.
Well, we're saying "enough" and are endorsing a candidate who has focused on issues and not on dirt: Jean Kurtis Schodorf .
Schodorf is the only candidate who has held an elected office, which in most years would be considered a minimum requirement to run for Congress. She has served in the state Senate for the past 10 years, where she has been a steady, reasoned voice. She also served 12 years on the Wichita school board, including three terms as president, and has served on city and civic boards.
Also unlike the other candidates, Schodorf is not overly ideological or partisan. She understands that being an effective lawmaker requires working with others, and that inflexible ideologies lead to gridlock. That's why she was endorsed by former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker.
Schodorf's top priority is jobs, but she also wants to work for senior citizens, the disabled and children. Congress would be a big challenge for Schodorf, as it would be for the other candidates. But she could be the kind of lawmaker we need more of in Washington, D.C.: a pragmatist who cares about finding real solutions, not scoring political points.
Mike Pompeo has an impressive educational background, which includes a degree from Harvard Law School. And he understands the needs of business, as he helped found and run Thayer Aerospace and currently is president of Sentry International. Though he has never held political office, Pompeo has been very active in the Republican Party, including serving as a national committeeman. Pompeo is concerned about the expansion of the federal government and is a strong advocate for free-market principles. It's too bad he ran such an ugly campaign.
Wink Hartman is a successful businessman with a can-do attitude. He wants to get government off the backs of small businesses, reduce taxes and regulations, and force the federal government to live within a budget. It's disappointing that, after signing and promoting a pledge to conduct a clean campaign, he waded so deeply into the mud.
Also running are Jim Anderson , a local businessman who backs the Fair Tax, term limits and returning the federal government to its constitutional mandates; and Paij Rutschman , who is concerned about political polarization and gridlock.
Attorney and two-term state Rep. Raj Goyle , D-Wichita, deserves to take on the Republican victor in November. Goyle's vote against the governor's emergency sales-tax increase looked politically motivated. But his education (including Harvard Law School) and resume are impressive, and he has demonstrated leadership in Topeka on legislation ranging from unemployment benefits to funeral picketing. Goyle, who worked as an intern at The Eagle in the early 1990s, knows the issues and has sound ideas, including some that can be described as conservative.
The other Democrat in the primary is Robert Tillman , a retired court services officer who has been active on boards in Wichita. He supports health care reform, comprehensive immigration reform and, in general, President Obama.
The winning Republican and Democrat will share the Nov. 2 ballot with Libertarian David Moffett and Reform candidate Susan G. Ducey.
Of the six Republicans in the "Big First" primary, physician and three-term state Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, earns our nod more for his brains and balanced legislative record than his campaign, which has done its share of anti-Pelosi and anti-Obama pandering to the conservative base. It was particularly disappointing to see Barnett, a pioneer and consensus builder in Topeka on improving the health and health care of Kansans, reject the entire federal health care reform law. But he has the skills and experience to be a worthy successor to Rep. Jerry Moran — a "commonsense conservative" who would thoroughly explore issues, advocate for Kansas, and cast votes that reflect his conservative district.
Tracey Mann, a Salina commercial real estate agent, makes a strong impression with his knowledge of the issues and his specific ideas, but his suggestions that we should let God handle global warming and that President Obama needs to prove his citizenship raise doubts about Mann's judgment. At least voters know what they'd get with farmer and four-term state Sen. Tim Huelskamp , R-Fowler, a hard-right conservative with a hard edge and a legislative record of fighting abortion, gay marriage, gun limits and environmental regulation.
The other Republicans are Rob Wasinger of Cottonwood Falls, a former chief of staff to Sen. Sam Brownback who wants to jump-start the district's growth with economic incentives; educator and real-estate agent Sue Boldra of Hays, who views earmarks as theft and the health care law as unconstitutional; and former diplomat Marck Cobb of Galva, who thinks the United States is misusing its military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The winner will take on Democrat Alan Jilka of Salina and Libertarian candidate Jack Warner in the general election.
Sam Brownback's 14 years in the U.S. Senate, one term as a congressman and six years as Kansas agriculture secretary make him the obvious choice for Republicans on Aug. 3, especially because his opponent, Joan Heffington of Derby, is a one-issue candidate (legal reform) prone to conspiracy theories and extreme views.