Democratic challenger for governor Paul Davis made a sweep through south central Kansas over the weekend, with stops in Wellington, Arkansas City and Winfield. He hopes to unseat incumbent Sam Brownback, who he says is steering Kansas in the wrong direction.
He said that while the governor touts his historic and revolutionary tax cuts, the state has seen big increases in property tax, sales tax, college tuition and utility rates.
The governor kept in place a sales tax that was set to expire, which Democrats are calling a tax increase.
“The cost of being a Kansan is getting out of control. We are paying more than we should for everything, including food,” Davis said. “Kansans are earning less and paying more, and we are not getting our money’s worth from state government.”
Davis touted the ideals of hard work and treating people with dignity and respect, which he said are Kansas values. He said policies under the current administration are taking away from those qualities.
“Costs have gone up dramatically since he became governor. These increases are a direct result of his actions and agenda. It does not have to be this way,” Davis said. He added that these were the things that prompted him to run for the office of Governor.
Davis is a member of the state House of Representatives from Lawrence and is House Minority Leader. While he is a Democrat, he said a lot of moderate republicans and independents would support his campaign because they don’t like the direction of conservatives.
He pledged strong support for education and said the Governor has made historic cuts to education during his time in office.
“Part of our history is to educate, it is in our constitution. In his first budget he had the largest cut in funding to public schools in state history,” Davis said.
“Four months later when he signed that into law, he called it a victory. Historic cuts to education were a victory, he actually said that,” Davis told the crowd.
“Schools have been weakened under Brownback. We have larger class sizes, teachers being laid off and parents having to pay fee after fee just to send their children to school. That is not winning, it’s foolishness,” he said.
Davis wants to make schools stronger again, and said stronger schools are the foundation of a stronger economy.
Davis also criticized conservative’s lack of cooperation in the workings of government, and pledged to build bridges and work with the other side when they disagree.
He said that the governor worked against people in his own party. Even moderate republicans, he said, could help his campaign.
He said the historic tax cuts in state income tax benefit the wealthy, while increases in sales and property taxes hurt the poor.
“It is middle class families that are hurt. The wealthy and well-connected get all the breaks. The economy feels broken and Topeka gets bogged down in the partisan agenda. All we want them to do is just get things done,” he said.
Davis said he decided to run because he does not like the direction the state is headed in. According to him, it is not “who we are as a people, and not true to the values of our state. It is time for us to set things right.”
Davis said he wants to focus on rebuilding education and creating jobs.
“When it comes to this party, labels should not matter. The only label I want is problem-solver,” he said.
His running mate is Jill Docking, who is related to the Dockings of Arkansas City.
She said she has worked with both democrat and republican governors.
“They were all good at steering the ship. Sometimes it shifted left or right, but it was going in the same direction, which was to bring progress to Kansas. In 2010, the ship got detoured. It is upside down. I became very concerned about Kansas and that is why I decided to run for public office again,” she said.