Elizabeth Bishop, a member of Sedgwick County Democratic Women and a former Kansas state representative, wrote an article that was featured as a Guest Commentary in the July 28, 2022 issue of the Wichita Eagle.
Bishop points out that there were four Republican legislators who voted against the “Value Them Both” amendment being placed on the August ballot instead of in the November general election because they felt the measure deserved a vote by a larger percentage of the population. Those legislators were subsequently replaced by politicians who follow the GOP party line and who then allowed party leaders to put the amendment in a primary election in which Democrats and unaffiliated voters rarely vote.
How political manipulation put Value Them Both in a primary election
Commentary by Elizabeth Bishop
Ever wonder why you and most people you know favor public policies that nonetheless get short shrift in Topeka?
The answer is a well-crafted deliberate process that ensures those holding minority viewpoints prevail.
The current vote on a constitutional amendment shows how this works. In 2019. the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that our state constitution Bill of Rights “allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life—decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.”
A constitutional amendment was immediately drafted to remove that right.
It was put before the Kansas Legislature in February of 2020. And it failed by four votes! Four brave Republican legislators joined all Democrats to vote against this constitutional amendment stripping women of their right to bodily autonomy: Don Hineman, Jan Kessinger, Tom Phillips, and Bill Pannbacker. Despite Republican leadership holding the vote in the House open for almost five hours — while the four had their arms twisted — they held fast and voted no, defeating the amendment.
Their objection to the amendment proposed for a statewide vote was not the amendment itself. It was the date specified in the bill placing it on the primary ballot in August rather than the upcoming general election in November of 2020. They pointed to the magnitude of a constitutional change that called for “maximum citizen input,” as Hineman said in remarks in the House Journal.
So where are these principled legislators today? Gone from the political scene entirely. They were threatened with primary opposition by right-wing leadership and chose to leave quietly at the end of the 2020 session. They were replaced with yes-reps who obediently passed the proposed amendment in 2021. Again, it specified the primary as the election date even though that meant delaying the vote for 18 months. This undemocratic maneuver thus ensured a low-turnout election, the opposite of “maximum citizen input.”
So that’s how it’s done. That is the alchemy that ensures those with the minority viewpoint prevail. And that is how our state ratchets evermore to the extreme right.
-Read the published article at: https://www.kansas.com/opinion/guest-commentary/article263900497.html#storylink=cpy (paywall if not a subscriber)
Another SCDW member, Carol Collins, pointed out that this shameful tactic (throwing overboard any GOP politician that is not toeing the hard-right line) is being used to target our state judges.
Collins said, “Six Kansas Supreme Courts Judges will be on the ballot for retention in November. All but Caleb Stegall, a Brownback appointee, are being targeted by the far right. We need to keep these judges in November.”
mj-Sounds like they’re trying to pack our state supreme court, the court of last resort in Kansas, just like they did the SCOTUS.