For the most part, the Lynn Jenkins vs. Jim Ryun Republican primary race has been low-key and without the significant explosions we would have expected. Sure, there have been spats and cat fights, but most of that has happened in small venues and received next to no coverage (save on this little blog). Last night's debate on KSNT Channel 27 in Topeka, however, blow the doors off the barn in terms of shear viciousness and negativity from both sides- with Ryun actually managing to come away as the more respectful of the two (hard to believe, right?).
After the contenders voiced agreement on the need to drill for more Alaskan
oil and the necessity of limiting federal spending, former U.S. Rep. Ryun dug
his spurs into Jenkins for voting a dozen times for tax increases while a member
of the Kansas Legislature. Three votes were to raise gasoline taxes, he
"That's not standing up for Kansans," Ryun said.
Jenkins, the Kansas state treasurer and former member of the Kansas
House and Senate, said the core responsibility for those tax hikes often rested
with federal politicians such as Ryun who foisted billions of dollars of
unfunded mandates on states. It is that kind of leadership, she said, that
should be shunned in Washington.
"God love you Jim, I think you had your chance," Jenkins said.
"I voted the right way," Ryun replied.
"We were at your mercy, babe!" Jenkins said. "I think we did the
responsible thing. We balanced the budget."
It really is hard to do a blow-by-blow for this debate- there were just so many blows. So, instead, we're going to do a winners & losers analysis.
Oh, one last thing- the moderators made a significant mistake letting Ryun get away with and out-and-out lie when he was talking about BRAC funding. He said, while he always worked to secure monies for Kansas BRAC project, Congresswoman Nancy Bodya actually cut funds after she took office. Look, we know we've said it before, but, please people, this old lie needs to die, because it really is nothing other than a lie. It was Ryun & his cronies that cut the funding, funding that Boyda & the new Democratic Congress managed to put back in- plus more. Please, read (again)
1a. Lynn Jenkins: For many people, last night was their first
experience seeing Jenkins speak, and, we just have to say, it was jarring.
Her body language was strange, her speaking style was strange, her general
demeanor was strange. Most of the time, she came off as condescending and
down right rude and disrespectful. She got in her hits, and they were good
hits for sure- particularly making sure to point out Ryun accomplished nearly
nothing when he was in Congress- but she misjudged when she accused Ryun of
supporting amnesty because he voted to help Haitian and Cuban refugees normalize
their status (what, Lynn, you want to send them back to Communist Cuba?) and her
strange "casting yes and no votes isn't leadership" song and dance makes
all of us think she might actually believe she's running to be President and not
just a freshmen member of the minority party in the House of
Oh, also- Ryun's broadside on Jenkins tax increases is dooming- however
responsible Jenkins knows she was being, she raised taxes 12 times while in the
state legislature, and Ryun was masterful in speaking directly into the camera
and pointing that out again and again and again.
Probably, though, Lynn's most significant problem, outside of the whole tax
increase thing, was that fact she came across as nothing short of weird,
rude, and condescending.
1b. Jim Ryun: Jenkins hit Ryun exactly, perfectly, where he
needs hit- right on the fact that, when he was in Congress he failed the people
of Kansas. When Ryun said he tried to stave off the mortgage crisis
Jenkins said, "Some results there! We can do better." Ryun's
performance was far superior to Jenkins' without any doubt- he seemed more
poised, far less strange, and just more congressional. He dinged Jenkins
for being clueless, ("You really don't understand...") and he called her out for
spewing her ridiculous "voting isn't leadership" rhetoric.
Regardless, though, Ryun came away damaged.
So, finally, our night's winner:
1. Nancy Boyda: Boyda comes away the winner if for no other reason both of her potential Republican challengers showed last night their significant vulnerabilities & that neither of them will be able to provide the voters with any reason at all to switch horses in midstream. Jenkins was right, Ryun had his shot and blew it, and Ryun was right regarding Jenkins penchant to jacking up taxes. On top of that, Jenkins clownish performance in the debate certainly didn't make her seem to be "congressional material" and while that isn't nearly as important as her total lack of a clue, it can't not come into play. Jenkins was particularly hesitant to come after Boyda directly, and while Ryun had no problem with it, he chose to hit her with a lie- so that shows you something about what we're going to see for the next several months.
All in all, last night was entertaining as all get-out...this writer is just blessing his lucky stars that he isn't a Republican.