Amanda Adkins stood before the Kansas Republican committee last weekend and peeled off stats that show how dominate the GOP is.
The Kansas party holds both U.S. Senate seats, all four congressional seats and six of six statewide offices. In the state Senate, the GOP controls 32 of 40 seats. In the House, it’s 92 of 125.
“They have no bench, folks,” Adkins said of the Democrats.
A fact sheet distributed to committee members drilled even deeper. In the state’s 105 counties, Republicans said they control 283 of 350 commission seats; 90 of 105 sheriff’s slots; 86 of 105 attorney positions, and 84 of 103 county clerk jobs.
A headline on the sheet: “Republicans have the largest margins of elected officials in modern Kansas political history.”
There’s more. Adkins boldly, even brashly, predicted that the GOP could pick up one more Senate seat and four more House seats this year, even though the redistricting process is incomplete.
Since November 2010, she said the Republican advantage in registered voters has grown by 6,000 over the Democrats.
And the party is now debt-free, she announced.
This weekend, Kansas Democrats are holding their annual meeting in Topeka and trying to pick themselves up. What’s the road ahead? That seemed like a fair question for party chair Joan Wagnon, who was in the House when Democrats, for a brief moment in the early 1990s, held a majority.
“I’ve never seen us sink to this level before,” Wagnon said.
The road ahead is long, she said. It’s uphill. Lots of curves. But a destination is in sight. “The road back is not one election,” she said. “We’ve outlined between now and 2020 a long-term strategy for rebuilding where we are.”
The immediate task, Wagnon said, is to restock the Legislature. From there, you can find talent for statewide races.
That’s how Kansas wound up with Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who first served as insurance commissioner.
Wagnon said she’s succeeding at organizing the party county by county. Some 70 of the state’s 105 counties are up and running.
Some intangibles might help the Democratic cause, she said. For one thing, Wagnon views GOP leaders as arrogant.
“They are trying to obliterate the Democratic Party,” Wagnon said. “It just made me mad as hell.”
Gov. Sam Brownback is too far to the right, Wagnon added. Many Kansans don’t like it. “The governor’s performance in office is causing a lot of people to have buyer’s remorse,” she said.
She hopes to have a credible candidate for that statewide office by 2014, when Brownback presumably would run for term two.
Government, she said, works best when there’s balance.
The party sold 650 tickets for this weekend’s banquet.
“The point is to energize people and get them out there,” Wagnon said.
That’s a start.