My Political Hiatus and Our Party Problems (Part 5)

February 13, 2013

Before I launch into Part 5, I want to say I truly appreciate the supportive calls, emails, and messages I have received. It is clear that many individuals share some of my concerns but do not feel they can speak out publicly. Additionally, I appreciate those who have spoken out to add alternative views as vigorous debate is important for working through any issue. I also want to give a special thank you to those who have publicly shared their own thoughts and examples that echo my concerns. This is not easy and I appreciate your courageous candor.

Once again, as with all of my posts, Part 5 represents an honest account of my own experiences, my opinions and reactions to these events, and an inquiry into questions I feel are important for us going forward.

“Quiet Rooms” Attitude

Many of you may remember that Mitt Romney said income inequality should be discussed in “quiet rooms”. Ironically, there are some within our party who feel our issues should be discussed in these same quiet rooms. The problem with discussions in quiet rooms is that often nothing comes of them and those who need to know about the issues continue to be left in the dark. As I said in Part 1, sunshine is the best disinfectant. Moreover, information is power. Members of our party cannot lobby for change unless they have a complete understanding of our problems. Those who continue to believe in the quiet rooms approach need to ask themselves why they are unwilling to discuss what goes on behind the scenes. Often those who are uncomfortable with open discussion resist because they do not want questionable practices to be revealed.

Misleading Messages

I have heard from candidates who felt they were misled by party leaders. Unfortunately, I had my own experience with this during my most recent campaign. Before the August primary, I spoke with State Party Chair, Joan Wagnon. During our conversation, she told me, “we can filter a lot of money into your race if Tim Owens (moderate Republican) loses the Republican primary”. This gave me the impression that my race would become a significant priority, if Jim Denning (the conservative candidate) was the Republican nominee. Shortly after the primary election, I contacted Joan to follow up as Former Senator Tim Owens was unsuccessful. I reminded her that she indicated money could be filtered to my race. However, she suddenly had no discernible plan to direct contributions to my campaign.

Technically, I cannot claim her statement was dishonest as she used the word “can” which conveys an ability to do something. I would have to say her statement was 100% accurate – the KDP and party leaders do have the ability to ensure that contributions are directed to particular candidates. However, making the statement in this context certainly creates a misleading impression, which I find to be completely unacceptable.

For the record, I was not expecting Joan to offer to filter money into my race. However, statements like this clearly create expectations for those hearing them. As a party leader, if you don’t mean it, don’t say it. Candidates do not need to hear insincere, misleading statements. This achieves nothing but anger and resentment.

3rd District Failure

If the Johnson County Democrats (and other county parties) can scramble over the weekend after the redistricting maps were released to find candidates for many empty slots in Senate and House races, the KDP could have ensured that we would have a 3rd District candidate. I understand that Joan Wagnon had recruited someone who committed to run but later backed out. KDP leadership should have been closely monitoring the SOS filings and, when this individual had not filed the week before the filing deadline, we should have been moving to plan B or C in order to secure a candidate. Not having a Democratic candidate on the ballot in a district that we recently held for 12 years is outrageous and disgraceful.

The “Coordinated Campaign”

Some candidates are invited to buy into a coordinated campaign. These individuals write sizable “donation” checks (e.g., $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000) to the KDP from their campaign accounts. Most have direct mail sent out on their behalf. Selected individuals may receive other services such as GOTV calls, persuasion calls, and field operations. Candidates in the coordinated are at the mercy of the decision makers for their race and have no control over what they are given. Candidates are asked to make large donations from their campaign treasury and simply take what the party decides to give them. At any point, you can be dropped like a hot potato with no recourse.

As we learned last time in Part 4, there are some significant disparities from candidate to candidate in terms of who is given how much support from the coordinated campaign. Some candidates are given 200–300% of what they contribute. This means that the difference must come from somewhere else (e.g., other candidate’s contributions to the coordinated campaign, individual donations to the party or caucus, etc.). Democrats around the state need to be aware that resources are being devoted to a select group of candidates and may not be helping anyone in your area.

Moreover, in looking at the costs of some services, I wonder if we are getting the best value within the coordinated campaign. Print vendors typically offer discounts when a number of print jobs are ordered together. Compared to the cost of my own mailers, the mailers sent out for other candidates appear to be more costly than I would expect. Since our resources are limited, it is critically important to ensure we are getting the most for our money as this can help to support more candidates.

Unfortunately, we also had some execution problems during the most recent election cycle. We need to be sure the coordinated campaign is first rate and well-managed. I heard a range of complaints from those who participated about the quality of the photos, the quality of the mailers/design, and the timeliness of the mailings. For example, some candidate’s initial mailers did not start hitting mailboxes until late October and, in at least one case, two mailers were delivered on the same day. This is not an effective approach. I will discuss the coordinated campaign in greater detail next week in my post discussing a better way forward.

My Non-Coordinated Campaign

I was never asked to join the coordinated campaign. I was asked to spend $5,000 on a poll but was told that nothing would be promised. I was told that the polling results would be used in determining support but, when I asked about the benchmarks for receiving support, I was not given a direct answer (i.e., “we’re not sure”, “we’ll have to see”). So, I was being asked to turn over $5,000 of my campaign contributions with absolutely no information about how support would be given during the campaign. From my perspective, this is like being invited to invest in a mystery fund offered by an investment firm who cannot provide any information about the level of risk, the composition of the fund, or the historical rate of return. I would not hand over my money under such ridiculous circumstances as it sounds like an excellent way to lose it all.

To complicate things further, party officials were saying vastly different things. The day after I was invited to spend $5,000 on polling by Senate leaders, I spoke to Joan Wagnon who said it was too early for polling and $5,000 was unwarranted given that a local pollster had agreed to do polling for $500. So, Senate leadership was recommending one approach and the KDP was encouraging another. It doesn’t seem very “coordinated” for different leaders in the party to be giving candidates contradictory messages.

I have recently been informed that this polling opportunity was my chance to buy in to the coordinated campaign. However, this was never stated during the campaign. When I asked why this was not stated directly, I was told that I could not be informed I would be buying into the coordinated because of concerns about campaign ethics violations. What? So, candidates are supposed to buy into the coordinated without being told they are buying into the coordinated? It seems rather unbelievable that candidates are expected to guess or assume that a large chunk of money they are turning over will make them part of the coordinated campaign. Moreover, other candidates seemed to be informed about the buy in and my experience in 2010 was vastly different as the buy in amounts for specific races were explicitly and clearly communicated. Put simply, it is ludicrous to ask candidates to make mystery investments.

Unclear Benchmarks for Support

Most candidates are aware that the party identifies priority races and that support is given to these races. However, it is less clear exactly what factors are considered and what the benchmarks are for prioritization and receiving support.

After reviewing the July reports for both the Senate Democrats Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, I attempted to obtain some information about benchmarks for support. I noticed a handful of candidates had been issued $1,000 checks from these accounts. I inquired about the benchmarks for disbursing these funds. At first, I was told that fundraising was the basis for the decisions. When I pointed out that some candidates received these contributions shortly after the filing deadline (which was not enough time to raise much money), I was then told that discussions about fundraising commitments drove the contributions. Following this remark, I pointed out that when you stripped away some of the artificial inflation in the numbers (such as the aforementioned $2,000 that some received from these committees in addition to one large loan made by an individual to the campaign), my totals for the period were not much different from at least two individuals who received these checks.

In the end, I was given no definitive answers and no information that I could use going forward in either this discussion or the aforementioned exchange about polling. This is ridiculous. All candidates should be told about the benchmarks for support. But, I am not convinced that definitive benchmarks always exist. These decisions sometimes seem to be personal in nature and may relate to some of the issues discussed in my previous posts.

However, I recently learned from a comment on Part 4 that some candidates (and their staff) were very well informed about benchmarks. According to the comment, they were told what they needed to do and by what date they should meet various goals. How nice. Why would one Senate candidate be informed about benchmarks and another would not? The only explanation that seems plausible to me is that the second candidate is kept in the dark because no one wants them to expect support if they meet the benchmark. If they don’t know what the benchmark is, they have no grounds upon which to request the support that others are receiving. This is a very effective strategy if your goal is to block candidates who you believe have the potential to meet your benchmarks but who are not part of your group of “chosen” candidates that you are trying to get elected.

The “Secret” Alternative to the Coordinated Campaign

Some people believe that the coordinated campaign is the only avenue for mailers to be sent out by the party. This is not true. The KDP can serve as the vendor for a candidate’s mail program as part of a larger package of campaign services. The KDP works with and pays the print vendor directly for the printing/mailing costs and bills the candidate for campaign services which include mailers as one of the many services provided. I used this method during the 2012 cycle and I heard that one House candidate did as well. This approach can create the inaccurate impression that the KDP is footing the bill for a candidate’s mailers but, in fact, candidates are covering the costs when they make payments to the KDP for the campaign services provided.

Most candidates do not know about this option. I found out about it by asking KDP Executive Director, Jason Perkey, after a print vendor I was speaking with mentioned the approach. (Jason was extremely helpful in explaining the approach and assisting us in using this process which I appreciated very much.) I was lucky to have stumbled upon this very helpful information. However, there is no reason for this option to be a secret. All candidates should be allowed to take advantage of this possibility. It does require a chunk of resources from the candidate and many candidates would only be able to afford one or two mailers but that is better than none. Why would we not give our candidates every possible advantage to strengthen their campaign?

The Myth of “Personal Responsibility”

It is obvious that if you want to win as a candidate you need to work hard. Surely no one is foolish enough to believe that you can sit around with your feet up and just wait to be elected. So, yes, substantial effort is required to have a chance to win a race and, in this sense, personal responsibility, investment, and dedication are important.

However, it is very aggravating to hear those who received tens of thousands of dollars in party support or those who acted as gatekeepers to receiving support tell others who didn’t win that the loss comes down to “personal responsibility”. This reminds me of rich Republicans (who were often born into family money) trying to convince people that they could be just as rich if they had only worked hard enough. Yeah, right. Gatekeepers use this approach to deflect criticism and avoid taking responsibility for any questionable decisions. This is also a psychological game used to try to make candidates who were not invited into the inner circle feel that they just weren’t good enough and didn’t work hard enough. Nothing is more ridiculous than those who received all the advantages acting as if they were on a level playing field with those who had none.

Those who truly believe this load of crap (i.e., that those who did not receive $40,000–60,000 in party support could simply work harder to make up the difference) should switch parties and go work for a wealthy Republican. You’ll feel much more at home. To everyone else, remember that we are supposed to be the party who believes in equal opportunity and fights for the best interests of the people. Let’s start acting like it.

Next Time: I will be offering my recommendations for a better way forward.

  • JBG

    “Most candidates do not know about this option. I found out about it by asking KDP Executive Director, Jason Perkey, after a print vendor I was speaking with mentioned the approach. (Jason was extremely helpful in explaining the approach and assisting us in using this process which I appreciated very much.) I was lucky to have stumbled upon this very helpful information. However, there is no reason for this option to be a secret. All candidates should be allowed to take advantage of this possibility. It does require a chunk of resources from the candidate and many candidates would only be able to afford one or two mailers but that is better than none. Why would we not give our candidates every possible advantage to strengthen their campaign?”


    • That is not true. I don’t believe the party would be offering the option if that were the case. Furthermore, I talked with another JoCo candidate who also happens to be a lawyer after the election and he was angry that more candidates weren’t informed about this option and said that it was perfectly legal.

      • JBG

        In your assessment, you simultaneously conclude that Party leaders are incompetent, misguided, corrupt, and foolish, but somehow, that they could never lead you wrong. Got it.

        Here, you’re suggesting the party affix a “Paid for by the Kansas Democratic Party – Not authorized by a candidate of candidate commitee” disclaimer on mail you’ve designed, authorized, provided to them, and then paid them for. You needn’t be a lawyer to understand why that’s 1.) dishonest, 2.) not transparent, and 3.) a violation of campaign finance rules.

        Foremost to strategy, campaigns have to be waged within a structured body of law. If you don’t understand the existing regulations then you have no business offering advice and criticism.

        • thomaswitt

          OMG. We have now entered that alternative universe where only attorneys are allowed to have an opinion. I was always afraid this would happen.

        • JBG – I think you need to go back and re-read this section of the post as this is not what I said. I would like to think that despite the shortcomings I have outlined that no one is intentionally offering illegal options. However, if by some chance you are correct, then I suppose you have added to the list of things that must be fixed.

          • JBG

            When can we have a discussion about candidates who feel entitled to things the law prohibits?

            As a former candidate, please tell us how candidates can be disabused of such silly notions. And, as you do, remember that candidates often hear “that cannot be done” as “that won’t be done for you”.

          • I’m not sure who you are talking about. All I have ever said is that I wished that more candidates could have been given the support that some were given. Clear and accurate communication is always the key to ensuring any kind of understanding – that is no mystery. Candidates cannot force any party group to do anything. Many have ideas about what they would like in the way of support but ultimately the party gatekeepers decide what type of support is offered.

        • levihenry

          I’m actually unsure that it’s a campaign finance violation, but instead a violation of using a NFP USPS permit indicia.

          • Levi – Thanks for weighing in with this information/clarification. I think that is a very important distinction regarding the laws as they relate to State parties versus PACs.

  • levihenry

    Lisa —

    Nice to seeing you spilling beans again. I’ll just assume the “personal responsibility” bit is about me, since I’m the one who said it on your last post.

    I don’t see “personal responsibility” as a Democrat or Republican value; I see it was a Kansas value.

    A little context as to why I’m a Democrat and not, as you urge, a Republican:

    I am: a boy who grew up in a single parent family with a mom struggling to make ends meet as a high school teacher in a rural district, spending around half of my time on my grandparents’ dairy farm / implement business in Nemaha County and the other half of my time in my mom’s 1100 square foot household in Holton, KS. On the farm, I learned nothing was free; and the only clear path to success was to work your tail off. In sum, personal responsibility. My grandfather was my father figure; neither of my parental figures (Mother / Grandfather) were active in the Democratic Party. My entry into the party was not based on continuing a dynasty.

    I first volunteered for the Democratic Party when I was 18 in 1998 on the gubernatorial campaign of Tom Sawyer. I didn’t have my first paid position until 2004 with the House Democrats under Marti Crow. I was loyal, I didn’t write posts spilling beans and criticizing party leaders, and I worked hard for Democratic candidates in Jackson, Brown, Nemaha,, Atchison, Pott, Bourbon, Crawford, Cherokee, Neosho, Allen, Anderson, Riley, Geary, Lyon, Wyandotte, Leavenworth, Saline, Sedgwick, Sumner, and Finney Counties. I built relationships. I was loyal. I evidenced myself as someone who could be trusted.

    I’ve put in my time — specifically, eight cycles — for Kansas Democrats. I’ve never asked for anything without also offering a plan and a bargain, e.g., “I’d like you to fund this program that will contact X number of voters with Y message and it will turn Z number of voters; and I’ll give you A, B, and C to get it done.”

    Knowing the ins-and-outs and how the process works; having the right relationships; and building trust are all things that come with time. That’s why it’s important that, if you are new to the field, you make friends with / hire somebody that you can trust to help you build these qualities. That’s what Keith Humphrey, who had never ran for office, did. He had a good district, but he also went out and found the right people — not just me, but lots of people — who had experience and knew the process. That was certainly a positive in his viability column for the KDP and Senate Democrats. Other positives: district registration numbers; history of the district; Union make-up of the district; personal story and background; and evidenced desire to win.

    Politics is a secretive business. Nobody will nor should write a manual on how to do it. Only experience can teach you how to get it done — and even then there are no guarantees.

    I’m sorry you had a bad experience, but I don’t think you are handling this appropriately. Offering detailed insights on how Democrats in Kansas operate is like revealing the playbook. Sure, Republicans can assume based on CFA filings all day, but you are filling in the blanks and confirming their suspicions, which, in my opinion, is far more egregious than encouraging a little personal responsibility.

    • thomaswitt

      Howdy Levi –

      If self-proclaimed geniuses such as yourself are the salvation of Democrats in general and the KDP in particular, why aren’t you helping with more campaigns, sharing that wealth of knowledge you’ve been greedily withholding from the rest of us? I’m sure other candidates could have made use of your expertise this last cycle.

      Judy Loganbill and Geraldine Flaharty come to mind.

      Oh wait. You ran their campaigns, didn’t you? In fact, weren’t you in the Ozarks on vacation the day Judy lost her primary? And weren’t you deeply involved in Kelly Kultula’s failed re-election bid?

      Also, dear readers, I doubt that anything Lisa has posted in the past few weeks is any surprise to the Republicans. I have had a couple of Republicans tell me what they know about the internal workings of the KDP and Democratic campaigns in this state, and the level of their knowledge was, in a word, stunning. I know there’s been much angst and consternation among Democratic leaders as Lisa has, as Levi put it, “spilled the beans,” but the people who need to know this are Democrats. The Republicans already know everything they need to know about us. If you don’t believe me, I suggest a quick review of the 2010 and 2012 elections results.

      • levihenry

        Tom —

        I worked on a volunteer basis exclusively in the 2012 election cycle. Your facts, as usual, are dead wrong. I did not receive compensation or remuneration for anything I did. I just tried as hard as I could and as well as I knew how to help Democrats get elected in an incredibly difficult political environment. Things didn’t go my way. But I don’t need to burn the house down to effect change, mostly because I choose to preserve my relationships and trust and say “I think we could have things differently by X, Y, Z.” And because I chose to preserve my relationships, I have the ability to sit down with right folks and make those suggestions. You do not value relationships, so you have little-to-no capacity to make those suggestions.

        On your point, however, where was the Kansas Equality Coalition for Judy and Geraldine? We really could have used your help in both Judy and Geraldine’s races. A few more folks to help knock doors and make phone calls would have been swell, but no Tom Witt and no KEC to help out their legislative allies. I suppose you were too busy trying, might I note without success, at knocking off a legislative target who happened to be a Democrat.

        • thomaswitt

          First, KEC is non-partisan and not part of the Democratic Party. Second, there were indeed KEC members who volunteered on both of those campaigns. Third, yep, during the primary season, we were certainly focused on getting rid of Jan Pauls, the most virulently anti-LGBT legislator, of *either* party, in the state of Kansas. If she had said the things she said about the gay community, for example, about African-Americans, the party would have (rightfully) come unglued. But apparently gay-bashing is still okay for certain Kansas Democrats.

          But that’s all beside the point, because this thread isn’t about Kansas Equality Coalition. Lisa’s essays are about the Kansas Democratic Party, and what she believes needs fixing. Instead of lecturing her on her failures/bean-spilling/whatever, perhaps you and others should hear what she has to say.

          • levihenry

            Tom —

            There were zero KEC members who volunteered for either Judy Loganbill or Geraldine Flaharty. I watched Judy Loganbill walk her district in the dead of summer four times over. I think she would be insulted to know you’re taking credit for her hard work in that district.

            If you are implying that “KEC is non-partisan” and “not part of the Democratic Party” means that you / KEC don’t stick with your legislative allies, I’ll make sure that’s known…again. It won’t be any breaking newsflash for legislative Democrats to know that KEC is all bark, no bite. Most legislative Democrats don’t take a stand on behalf of the LGBT community for you; they do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s my belief you do more to set back the LGBT cause when you are under the Green Dome by making it politically impossible to execute any sort of reasonable legislative strategy.

            Lisa is free to write as she pleases, but you used this as the opportunity to impugn me personally. You opened that door; not me. I merely responded. While reputation and character are fleeting for you, I take both very seriously.

          • thomaswitt

            Oh good grief. There’s no way to even respond to this tangle of BS. When you’re ready to have an honest conversation, let me know. You know how to get in touch with me.

      • Tom – While I disagree with a lot of things said in your posts, I’m only going to touch on one of them and that’s regarding Kelly Kultala’s failed re-election bid. That was all me, I don’t blame anyone for Kelly losing and really don’t want anyone else getting blamed for it. Kelly and I worked our asses off and it just didn’t work out, while Levi and I are good friends and talk politics often that by no means he is to blame for Kelly losing. Just wanted to make that clear.

        • thomaswitt

          Colin –

          I appreciate your candor. My understanding is that you and Levi are consulting partners; if my understanding is incorrect, I apologize.

          You say there are “a lot of things” in my posts you disagree with. Do you have anything specific? If I’m factually incorrect, I’d certainly be willing to listen.

    • Levi – I know you are a very dedicated Democrat and I was not suggesting that you become a Republican. If you’ll read the key sentence at the end, you’ll find that you probably don’t pass this litmus test. (“Those who truly believe this load of crap (i.e., that those who did not receive $40,000–60,000 in party support could simply work harder to make up the difference) should switch parties and go work for a wealthy Republican.”) I doubt that you believe that simply working hard can make up for tens of thousands of support.

      If this is our “playbook”, that is pretty sad as I’m outlining things which I feel are huge stumbling blocks. Let the Republicans steal all the problematic strategies they like as this can only work to our advantage.

      I appreciate the fact that you have worked on many campaigns over many cycles. However, this is not quite the same as being the candidate yourself. For the record, I never had a problem with Keith receiving support as he had so many positive variables working for him as you outline in your comment. However, I do have a problem with being misled and not getting any support when I had evidence that it could make all the difference.

      Your earlier comments seemed to imply that I didn’t work hard which I found offensive. I am guessing that someone gave you that impression but I’m here to tell you it’s a load of BS. I may not have covered as much ground as you and Keith did with your team as you hit the ground sprinting but by the time voting began there were only a handful a precincts that we had not been able to hit thanks to the tremendous efforts of about 10 dutiful volunteers who partnered with me to reach out to voters.

      In any event, your differing viewpoint is noted. However, I don’t believe I am burning down the house – I’m just trying to exterminate pests. I want a party that works for as many people as possible not just a select few.

    • Levi – one more clarification… I was not saying that personal responsibility is a Republican value. I was drawing a parallel between trying to blame working and middle class families for “not working hard enough to be rich”, as some Republicans imply, and telling Democratic candidates who didn’t win and who didn’t have the support you did that they just should have worked harder. The synonymous theme is the “privileged” accusing others of not working hard enough.

      • levihenry

        Lisa —

        The point is you have doused the Democratic Party and the Senate Democrats with a hefty amount of criticism, but you haven’t devoted a blog post to what you could have done better or differently. Perhaps personal responsibility has too much baggage; I’d be happy with just a little objectivity.

        “Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan.” – JFK, 1961

        • Levi – I have never claimed to be the perfect candidate. This series is supposed to be about those things that I feel are holding us back as a party. Self-reflection is a useful exercise but hardly addresses larger issues that affect all candidates.

          However, regardless of what you, I, or anyone else thinks about how I ran my campaign, I did enough things right that I was up 3 points by mid-October. My point, which no one has yet been able to refute or deny, is that in a year in which every seat was critical, this information should have prompted more party support in an effort to secure another seat.

          Opinion writing by it’s very nature is subjective. I’ve said all along that this relates to my personal experiences, my opinions, and the questions it raised for me. I can understand you being miffed if I had tried to pass this off as an objective news piece. However, I never implied this.

          • levihenry

            1) I know very little about your campaign, how it was ran and what could’ve been done differently. Perhaps the biggest difference you could make for the future of the party is laying out an assessment of what you could have done differently. What you could have done differently, after all, is all you can really control. Not just realistically, but legally.

            2) You were up 3 points by mid-October according to a discredited Republican pollster. There’s a reason why his polls are cheap. You pay for what you’re getting. If you’re contracting for a poll to persuade potential Democratic supporters and allies to support you, then you’re always best off paying for a pollster those potential Democratic allies can trust or don’t pay for one at all.

          • I understand that some share your negative assessments but I don’t know that using the term discredited is warranted regarding the pollster. These are quick horserace style polls and do not have the same depth and methodology as the more expensive polling. Because Joan was recommending this pollster, it was not clear that his polling would be rejected by the party (more mixed message issues). As an aside, KNEA used this pollster. So, apparently there are a variety of different views.

            Overall, I feel very good about the approach I used. I am not so ridiculous that I would say it was a perfect campaign – I don’t think such a thing exists. But, I don’t think we should tell our candidates that we shouldn’t ever expect the party to improve or we shouldn’t raise concerns to promote positive change. Naturally, as you say, the individual candidate cannot control the party. But, the party is made up of individuals who can raise their voices to discuss how things can be improved and how we might elect more candidates. If we were to adopt the attitude you recommend, everyone would just shrug their shoulders and take a defeatist attitude that problems may exist but we can’t do anything about it. I think too many folks have held this attitude for far too long.

  • BlameGame

    “I have recently been informed that this polling opportunity was my chance to buy in to the coordinated campaign. However, this was never stated during the campaign. When I asked why this was not stated directly, I was told that I could not be informed I would be buying into the coordinated because of concerns about campaign ethics violations.”

    It seems that in order to be able to bring to light “problems” of the party and of how campaigns are run, you must first have knowledge of the issues and it is clear that Lisa does not have a working knowledge of any of this. Basic campaign finance law holds that independent expenditures cannot be coordinated with a candidate. To coordinate the independent expenditures with the candidate would be a campaign finance law violation. So Lisa’s issues with the party are really issues she holds with campaign finance laws. Fortunately for her, there were staffers who knew campaign finance laws and kept her from violating them. Otherwise, instead of writing these posts complaining about losing, she would be before the Ethics Commission trying to explain why she violated the law.

    Maybe the first step of her “hiatus” shouldn’t have been blogging about something she seems to still not understand after two failed bids for elected office.

    • It is ridiculous to claim that I was trying to violate the law. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am simply asking questions about why differing amounts of information were given to different candidates at different times. This obviously bothers some individuals who are trying to deflect the criticism by launching into personal attacks that have no merit.

      It is legitimate to question a statement when different leaders in the party do not take the same approach. According to your view, some leaders are potentially violating campaign finance law. As I said in an earlier post, if that is accurate, that is another problem that needs to be addressed.

      I have never claimed to be an election law expert – which is why I always asked various leaders what could be done. If election law expertise is a new benchmark for the Democratic party (that all candidates be an election lawyer), that will certainly further limit our pool of candidates.

      Everyone has a right to express their opinion. I have never claimed to be the perfect candidate but you seem to be missing the point that more people may be able to win elections if we can address some of our party problems. “Failed bids for office” can provide a body of knowledge needed to turn a critical eye to party practices that those who had the red carpet rolled out for them will not have.

      • Guest

        First, I am not deflecting any criticism nor making any personal attacks on you. In fact, I am not even mentioned in your blog. However, you have personally attacked, either directly or indirectly, a number of people including, but not limited to: Kyle Russel, Emily Perry, Larry Gates, Dan Watkins, Tim Graham, Anthony Hensley, Bill & Juanita Roy, Pat Pettey, Joan Wagnon, Jason Perkey and Paul Davis.

        Your blog is a long ways from helping any Kansas Democrat get elected. What it does is point fingers at everyone else while taking no accountability for yourself. For someone who likes to dish it out, you sure can’t take any criticism in return. Which is why you respond to every single comment on your blog no matter how big or small the criticism.

        • Whoa! I have not criticized many of the people on that list. I mentioned Kyle Russell because I felt like he got the short end of the stick compared to some others – that’s hardly criticism. Regarding all the candidates, I have always said my remarks had nothing to do with them personally. I wasn’t criticizing them but rather what I felt were problematic party moves that involved their races. I never mentioned several of these folks and have had nothing but positive interactions with Jason Perkey.

          I respond because I’m trying to be an active participant on my own site. I don’t think that is out of the ordinary. And, when I have a different view, I will certainly express that. Again, I don’t think that is particularly unusual either.

  • thomaswitt

    It’s sad that just about all of the opposing responses to Lisa’s series of essays have consisted of little more than “sit down and shut up.” They’ve ranged from barely civil to outright personal attacks, mostly from anonymous posters who don’t have the stones (Levi and Colin being the exceptions) to say who they are. From where I sit, I see Lisa trying to start a dialog, and insiders trying to discredit and shut her up. I think we can be better than this.

    • JBG

      I’ll remind the former ‘missanonymous’ that reasoning does not require a name to be sound.

      A name, as you’ve proven adeptly, allows respondents to shot the messenger instead of responding to the argument.

      I agree, improvements can be made. But I don’t trust a candidate who advocates systematic violation of disclosure requirements and would jeopardize bulk-mail permits, or someone who ran this guy ( ) for the legislature to lead us to the promised land.

      • All I have advocated is for approaches that have been standard practice for years to be available to all candidates not just a select group. I did not create any of these approaches. If you have an issue with an approach and feel that it is problematic, take it up with those who offer it. I am not advocating for violating any requirement as I have been told by several individuals within the party that it is not a violation. You think the approach is a violation, but apparently others in the party have a drastically different view. Also, someone who is such a proponent of “reasoning” should recognize that disagreement on one isolated point does not mean that the numerous other points that have been made have no merit.

        • JBG

          “All I have advocated is for approaches that have been standard practice for years to be available to all candidates not just a select group.”

          No. You haven’t. You’re missing the point regarding non-profit mail permits and disclaimers if you think it’s 1.) standard practice, or 2.) should be available at all.

          • You are missing the point that apparently leaders at the KDP have a different view from yours about appropriate methods. Hash it out with them. As I said before, I didn’t create any of these approaches. I am but one of many candidates who were offered a particular approach. The KDP reviewed my mailers (and I’m sure other candidate’s as well) for “legalities” before they told the printer to go forward. I was told during my campaign that this was a legal and appropriate method. (We still have emails to this effect.) I will be enraged if I was lied to about this but, at this time, I have no proof just two differing opinions.

  • Vickie Thornton

    JBG: Perhaps a call to Carol Williams at the state ethics commission will help you understand the law regarding using the non profit indicia for candidate mailings. It is perfectly legal for a party to use the indicia for mailings put together by the candidate or the party. Furthermore, there is no postal law being violated here either. Call the post master and find out for yourself as I have done. I’m sorry sir but you are wrong. This practice has been in place for years at all levels of party politics. Perhaps this is part of the problem. Lack of knowledge among key people, candidates and party members is leading to us not using all of the tools available to us to win races. Just think for a minute what it would have meant to the candidates if they were able to use the non profit indicia for their mailings. It would have had the effect of almost doubling their mailing funds. We may not be able to out raise Republicans but we can sure use all the tools available to us to spend more wisely. We can argue all we want about distribution of funds but there should be no argument on the ability to use this precious resource to help all of our candidates.