ON OUR RADAR

ON OUR RADAR
Races we're keeping an eye on.
  • Willie Dove
  • J.R. Claeys
  • Dan Hawkins
  • Brenda Landwehr
  • Les Osterman
  • John Barker
  • Jesse Burris
  • Blake Carpenter
  • Ron Highland
  • Susan Humphries
  • Chuck Weber
JOHN BARKER
Blocking hearings on campus carry was not cool.
Here come the judge, here come the judge...

Last year at this time, John Barker was one of four former judges serving in the Kansas Legislature. But John Rubin decided he'd had enough of Topeka, and South Hutchinson decided they'd had enough of Jan Pauls.


This one isn't John's fault. This one.

But blocking debate on an amendment that would have repealed the current, poorly thought out, poorly written "campus carry" bill, that's all on you, Jack.

As for Barker's excuse that "There are negotiations going on privately. I've been assured of that"? In the immortal words of Wayne Campbell... 
WILLIE DOVE
Kim Kardashian took a picture of her ass and blew up the internet.
"Ricochet Willie" pulls stuff out of his and blows up the truth.

Sometimes, like a lot of solons from small towns, John turns into Captain Obvious.

Like when State Representative Jarrod Ousley of Merriam requested a Legislative Post Audit report on whether same-sex couples were being discriminated against in adoption proceedings.

Hey, Sam Brownback is governor.

Phyllis Gilmore is Secretary of the Department for Children and Families.

And water is wet.


And we have neither the time--nor the crayons--to explain.
JESSE BURRIS
Like father, like son... in law
When Jesse Burris took over the 82nd District seat from Pete DeGraaf, it was in the time-honored tradition of handing off the family business from the father...in law.

You know, just like burning witches at the stake, placing people in stocks, and public dunkings.

Before filling his father in-law's shoes, Jesse worked for Kris Kobach as an attorney in the Secretary of State's office.

Father-in-law Pete DeGraaf was best known for his infamous remark during a debate on insurance for rape victims, when he said, "I carry a spare tire".

DeGraaf also shot down an amendment to a child support bill that would require state-owned casinos--like the Kansas Star Casino in his district--to check an internet database of deadbeat dads before paying winnings of over $1200. He said it was "too complicated".

He also supported a bill that threatened to pull the accreditation from KU Medical Center over abortion--even though that is always taught off-campus, with non-faculty facilitators.

So, if Jesse Burris is now the incumbent, why are we talking so much about Pete DeGraaf?


In a speech passing the torch, DeGraaf asked that Republicans support Burris “in the cultural battle he’s going to be waging on your behalf.”
BLAKE CARPENTER
All hat and no cowboy.
There are gentlemen's gentlemen.

There are asshole's assholes.

Then, there's Blake Carpenter, who's a wannabe's wannabe.

He wanted to be seen as an insider on the hospital carry bill. Sooo, he tweets like he knows what's going on and claims that if the bill fails, the sale of Topeka's St. Francis Hospital could be in jeopardy:

If he were a little further west, you might say he's all hat and no cowboy.

Like when Blake said he polled his constituents--but hadn't bothered to look at the results prior to the start of the 2017 Legislature.

And not only did he ignore many of his constituents, he was so eloquent about it

"It's just, it's not good,” said Rep. Blake Carpenter, a Derby Republican who voted against the bill. “It’s just not good for Kansas.”

Way to toe that party line, Blake. Just don't stub your toe doing it.
J.R. CLAEYS
Where in the world is he now?
Where in the world is... J.R. Claeys?

When we last left our intrepid world traveler, he was leadfooting (if that's possible in a jet airliner) back from Italy to try and make it back to Topeka in time for last year's special session.

He didn't make it in time for the start of the special session and had to be replaced on the Appropriations Committee

During the overtime of the 2015 session--the longest in Kansas history--J.R. was in Fiji.

For years, he argued that he lived in his sister's basement, while maintaining a condo in Lawrence, which he claimed was a "vacation home". Where does he live now that he's married?

Really? What self-respecting K-Stater would want to vacay in LFK, except for the weekend of our biennial intimate gathering at Bill Snyder Family Stadium East?

J.R. tried to keep his EMAW cred by tweeting in defense of the K-State marching band after the Star Trek formation incident..



J.R. Claeys knows which side his bread is buttered on--and it's probably not yours.
What's the difference between Kim Kardashian and Willie Dove?

Kim Kardashian took a picture of her ass and blew up the Internet.


Dove says his proudest accomplishment in Topeka has been sponsoring a bill to repeal Common Core standards -- even though he admits he never read them.


And Dove was the early leader in the clubhouse for the 2016 "Golden Fork" award, although he later slipped to second and won the "Silver Spoon". He's still in the Top Ten this year, in eighth place in records released so far in 2017

But what Dove is best known for today is the January incident in which he left his loaded pistol in a Capitol committee hearing room

Outside the Legislature, Dove is President of Medicare Advantage Plus Services. Medicare Advantage, as in the HMO that would benefit from the Healthcare Compact but GOP candidates in 2014 used the phrase to mislead the public by telling them that the Affordable Care Act took millions of dollars away from Medicare.

Wrong! It took money away from Medicare Advantage, the private insurance companies who are only out to make a profit. Unfortunately, the sheeple believed them!

Not sure what it says about his level of work at the Statehouse, but the only post on his blog under District 38 Reports is the one he posted in May 2013 that states that he periodically posts something.

<crickets/>
RANDY GARBER
Some people pray for peace. Some people pray for rain.
He prays for submissive women.
Different people pray for different things.
 
Some people pray for rain.
 
Some people pray for peace.
 
 
Now, granted, most guys for pray for the same thing, but we have enough sense to keep our mouths shut about it.
 
As Saturday Night Live's Michael Che said of Donald Trump, they ought to do a record scratch and party song every time this guy opens his mouth.
 
Like his vote against a bill that would create safe sleep training for day care centers... because it might lead to government control of sleeping?
 
"Scraaatch! I feel good.."
 
Or his reaction to efforts to repeal Campus Carry: "We have free rights to carry guns... no matter where we're at"?
 
"Scraaatch! I feel good..."
 
Who you elect to public office is a direct reflection of who you are.
 
Annnd, Brown County, this is what you look like:
DAN HAWKINS
The Dikembe Mutombo of the Kansas Legislature.
Whatever it is, he'll block it.
 Yeah, he's the legislative equivalent of this:
Medicaid expansion? "Not in my house!"


Dan was also the winner of the 2016 Golden Fork, awarded to the state legislator who has the most money spent on him/her by registered lobbyists.

Someone needs to posterize Dan like this:
RON HIGHLAND
This retired veterinarian is one grumpy cat.
Hubert Humphrey once said, "...The hardest job for a politician today is to have the courage to be a moderate. It's easy to take an extreme position."

In that case, Ron Highland is a slacker.


"The results are as I expected. The mega-tax bill passed and became law by overriding the Governor’s veto. The K-12 education bill passed with increased spending. The final budget bill passed last Saturday evening.

"The liberal Republicans joined forces with the Democrats to defeat any bills or amendments to soften the bills.

"The tax bill, or as I have renamed it, the “Missouri Jobs Act,” is now law."
Separated at birth?
Highland is also a member of the oxymoronic "Kansas Truth Caucus"... and has his very own boilerplate video to prove it.

And with all the pressing issues facing the Legislature this year, he still found time to comment on the Electoral College.

Ron Highland may not be the Grumpy Cat, but he sure is one grumpy cat.
SUSAN HUMPHRIES
Nobody wants to play with the new kid.

Like new people often are, when it came time for the Legislature's "Women's Caucus" to put the final touches on their tax proposal, Susan Humphries was among four female solons left out of the process,reportedly because she wasn't playing well with others. 

From the moment she announced (with her husband's "counsel"), she allied herself with Governor Sam Brownback's tax policies.

Well, sort of.

"Humphries, asked her opinion of Brownback, said, 'I think he's a really nice guy. I think he needs to do the hard work. I support him because he's a Republican governor. Does that mean I love everything he's done? No.'"

In other news, she was a backer of Senate Bill 28, the so-called "font bill" that requires abortion providers to give out their bios on white paper in 12-point Times New Roman type. 


So, if she voted for everything Brownback wanted, what was it she didn't love?
BRENDA LANDWEHR
She's returned... just like Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back.
For years, she was one of the evilest presences in Topeka, a legislative Alexis Carrington--if the iconic Dynasty diva had not been played by the late Joan Collins, but instead by Honey Boo-Boo's mother.

Brenda is a big defender of Governor Sam Brownback's tax cuts. And, she admits, she's benefited from them... and she even hired a new employee who had previously been on welfare.

As Tommy Flanagan would say...
Brenda was one of the most senior members of the Kansas Legislature when reapportionment came along in 2012, and a three-judge panel threw her into the same district as incumbent Democrat Nile Dillmore... where she was finally defeated after accusing her opponent of having a "liberal love affair"--with his wife, Wichita City Council member Janet Miller.

Since returning to the Legislature last year after winning Mark Hutton's former House seat, Brenda's been a little quieter than she used to be.

As they used to say in the old westerns, "Hmmm. Maybe too quiet".

And while she may not be as boisterous as she used to be (Do you think she might have learned something in her time off?... Nah.), one thing hasn't changed: when it comes to spending money or having fun, whatever it is, she's against it.

Is there anything she likes? For most of the millennium's first decade, she tried to push Colorado's "Taxpayer Bill Of Rights", which requires a vote of the people before increasing taxes. She chartered a bus, toured the state, and just went all out--until the Columbine State voted to cut back on some of its more onerous provisions.

In defending a 2004 law she helped write on child abuse disclosures, she said, "Midwest people, we are just different."

Well, some of us, anyways.
LES OSTERMAN
He can't handle the truth.
Les used to be a Democrat.

Les used to have shorter hair.

Les used to think for himself... but now--according to his Wikipedia page--he wants to be just like Rick Perry.

Yup. That guy:
Les also wants to be like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men...

Les also gained notoriety last year, when he posted a "Mexican word of the day" meme on his Facebook page:
Outside of that, he really hasn't done much.

And that hasn't changed.
JENE VICKREY
His spelling's improved. His record hasn't.
Jene Vickrey burst on the scene in 1992 by upsetting then-Speaker of the House Marvin Barkis.

He also gained attention for his spelling in his campaign literature, such as "familys". These days, such things are considered IOKIYAAR.

Over the years, Vickrey worked to increase his education as he rose through the ranks to become House Majority Leader under Ray Merrick.

His spelling has improved. His record hasn't:
CHUCK WEBER
He has a note from home. Does that count?
Chuck Weber was selected by precinct leaders to fill the unexpired term of Steve Brunk, who resigned to take a job he said wasn't a lobbying job... until he registered as a lobbyist

Even though he won election to a full term, he's still new at this.

Take the time he tried to amend a tax bill to create a sales tax holiday, when he ran straight into a buzzsaw by the name of J.R. Claeys.

"Do you have a fiscal note for this?" Claeys asked.


That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.

And as a YouTube video-carrying member of the Kansas "Truth Caucus", he was full-throated in his defense of Sam Brownback's policies--and like a good extremist, carried them to term.

Speaking of women's issues, Weber may have opposed Medicaid expansion, but that didn't stop him from sponsoring an amendment to prohibit funding for Planned Parenthood.

Chuck Weber--a silver-tongued speaker with a forked tongue.
JOHN WHITMER
If you can read this, he's probably blocked you on Twitter.
There are some things you do, no matter what you do, always stay with you.

William Hung is known today as a top criminal forensic scientist--but when you hear his name... come on, admit it... 
And so it goes for John Whitmer. His now-infamous "crying speech" in the closing hours of the 2015 session has become the most viral image of the Kansas Legislature in this millenium.

He's been iconed:
Instagrammed:
And there are probably memes of him as well, but Google sucks, and we couldn't find them.

He says he was thinking of his recently-deceased mother during a debate on taxes when the fateful photo was taken.

I know, right? Doesn't heated debate on taxation always make you think of your mother?

The problem with doing a page like this is that with John, it's like playing Cranky Crab--you think you've got him covered, and then he comes up with something else:
Interesting how he can blow off guns... but throw himself into a tizzy over tampons.


And to make sure he could continue hanging with the cool kids, he dropped a bill into the hopper that defines the term "Sanctuary City"--a term not legally definable, but all the cool radical right kids are doing it anyway.

That's not while blocking people on his Twitter account (including ours)--something some states are finding illegal.

Maybe Whitmer could come up with a legal definition for "covfefe". That would at least be moderately useful.
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