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We deserve our own legislator

All the fuss leading up to Tuesday’s election has us wondering whether we’re still in Kansas anymore. The torrent of attacks and counterattacks — some of them all too personal — makes us wonder whether we are in the midst of a California mudslide.

The only breath of fresh air has come from Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker, the most famous part-time resident of our circulation area and a retired leader of such courage and dignity that she merits all her last names.

In making an endorsement last week in the 4th District congressional race south of us, she rejected endlessly annoying Pompeo-Hartman mudslinging to endorse a third candidate who seems more interested in working for the district than in tearing down opponents.

In an endorsement in our letters column this week, she recommends for secretary of state a candidate who actually is prepared for and would do good work in the job.

Why all these endorsements? She knows, as we are learning, that nothing short of the future of the Republican Party in Kansas is at stake in this election.

Our own race for 70th District state legislator is emblematic of the battle — so much so that we have decided to ignore our long-standing policy and make an endorsement in the race.

If the race really were Bob Brookens against Cheryl Green on their own merits, we might not weigh in. But that is not what the race is about. We have no doubt that Green is an intelligent, principled, and dedicated candidate. We simply believe she is being used as a pawn by a militant faction of the party to attack Brookens for being a legislator who considers his constituents’ views and well-being first, then votes his mind regardless of what would-be political bosses would have him do.

The race is not about who is more anti-abortion, more anti-taxes, more pro-gun, or more anti-immigration. It is not about who has taken more special-interest money or from whom. It is about whether the 70th District will have a legislator who votes for the interests of the people in the district, even if those interests are at odds with those of anonymous power brokers in smoke-filled rooms who insist on always toeing a dogmatic party line.

The fact that Bob Brookens may not always vote the way distant party leaders tell him to is not a negative. It is one of his best qualities.

Trust an Illinois resident on this. In Illinois, virtually every legislator is beholden to some statewide faction. The result has been a state teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, unable to fund needed public services, and typically having its governors retire not to jobs as lobbyists but to federal prison.

Don’t give away your representation in the state legislature. Don’t let distant and dogmatic political factions turn our representative into an unthinking ditto-head, voting exactly as they say. Return Bob Brookens to the legislature, where he has served our interests with great energy and thoughtfulness.

We may not agree with every vote he has cast, but we trust that he has cast every one of his votes after fully considering our district’s interests.

Now is not the time to come to the aid of our party. Now is the time for our party to come to our aid.

— Eric Meyer

Last modified July 28, 2010

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