THE PLANK AUGUST 6, 2008
What do a nationally recognized anti-abortion zealot, one of the greatest runners of all time, and Michael Bolton have in common? Answer: They all lost primary elections in Kansas yesterday. (Presumably it was a different Michael Bolton.)
The defeats of Phill Kline, the anti-abortion crusader who was running for district attorney in Johnson County, and Jim Ryun, the former runner who was hoping to recapture his seat in Congress, might indicate that the Kansas Republican Party is turning away from the hard-edged conservatism that has prompted moderates to defect to the Democratic Party in large numbers and jeopardized the GOP's stranglehold on power in the state, as our own John Judis documented last summer. Ryun and his supporters tried to label his opponent, state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, as a moderate out of step with Republican primary voters, but apparently that line of attack didn't resontate. And it's nice to see that Kline, a prosecutor whose dogged personal campaign to harass providers of legal abortions was slapped down by more serious lawyers, has been unequivocally repudiated even by his own party (losing yesterday's primary by twenty points), after being booted from the attorney general's office by voters in 2006.